Raspberry Pi: some useful links for doing more than playing around.

Miranda Sawyer at the Guardian: Everyone wants a slice of Raspberry Pi The £25 programmable computer invented by British scientists has turned into a global sensation. Will it encourage kids to teach themselves code, or just end up in the hands of nerds? Kit Buchan at the Guardian: 12 things to do with a Raspberry … Continue reading “Raspberry Pi: some useful links for doing more than playing around.”

Miranda Sawyer at the Guardian:

Everyone wants a slice of Raspberry Pi
The £25 programmable computer invented by British scientists has turned into a global sensation. Will it encourage kids to teach themselves code, or just end up in the hands of nerds?

Kit Buchan at the Guardian:

12 things to do with a Raspberry Pi
From keeping tabs on your baby to brewing your own beer, here’s a dozen DIY jobs for a Raspberry computer

  1. Nixie Clock
  2. Robot Slave
  3. Weather Station
  4. Rocket Launcher
  5. Portable/In-Car PC
  6. Jukebox
  7. Radio
  8. Arcade Game
  9. Baby Monitor
  10. Home Brew Beer
  11. Bird Box
  12. Near-space craft

Liam Fraser from LinuxUser.co.uk

Use Python to make your first game on Raspberry Pi in our easy to follow step by step tutorial
In this tutorial we’re going to be remaking the classic game, Pong. To do this, we’ll be using a Python module called Pygame. Pygame is great, because it allows the programmer to create 2D games without having to worry about things such as rendering the graphics in too much detail. The main portion of the code will be the code that makes up the game’s structure and logic.

Rob Zwetsloot from LinuxUser.co.uk

Build your very own media centre out of a Raspberry Pi to save on space and money using XBMC
One of the great things about the Raspberry Pi is that it not only has plenty of power to play back high definition video, but it also has the HDMI output to allow you to do so. This would naturally lead the media enthusiasts among you to think of the possibilities for using the RasPi as a media centre, but the list of advantages don’t stop there. It has network support to stream video, has a ridiculously small form factor so you can tuck it out the way, and of course the low price doesn’t hurt.

The Medium is the Message: Pedagogy, Paper and Politics

Wikipedia entry on Marshall McLuhan …content had little effect on society—in other words, it did not matter if television broadcasts children’s shows or violent programming, to illustrate one example—the effect of television on society would be identical. The point I would take away from this is that ‘television’ has had a much greater impact on … Continue reading “The Medium is the Message: Pedagogy, Paper and Politics”

Wikipedia entry on Marshall McLuhan

…content had little effect on society—in other words, it did not matter if television broadcasts children’s shows or violent programming, to illustrate one example—the effect of television on society would be identical.

The point I would take away from this is that ‘television’ has had a much greater impact on society than any content created upon it. Of course, as an enabling technology it can rely on the full gamut of visual programming over decades to enforce the effect.

As an Internet denizen for over 20 years now, I wonder how much we consider this when attempting to communicate with other sections of society.

PEDAGOGY

Education lags behind society because it must. The role of the teacher is to prepare the student for the world brut it is a very rare individual who can prepare another for a future that does not yet exist. We tie teachers up in a curriculum they must address, we check on their progress by subjecting students to exams which only serve to reinforce an ageing curriculum and we punish those who do not meet the arbitrary standards set by individuals who did not grow up in this world. Education prepares students to understand the past.

My son was diagnosed with ADHD and the response from the school was that his choices were medication or expulsion. His inability to focus on a task was disruptive to the class yet this same child can display razor-sharp focus to a task when it is presented in a different format.

The content (message) is much the same (the presentation of concepts, numbers, formulae) but the medium is entirely different. And the medium is more powerful and becomes an enabler, maybe even an amplifier) for the delivery of the message.

If our children are living in the most stimulating and distracting era in history, it is because they are being distracted by the medium, not the message.

PAPER

I love books. My library at home is brimming with them. And despite what many may think, I am yet to read a single book on an electronic device. But the Gutenberg press is nearly 600 years old and despite our advancements in technology, the printed book remains the standard in education media. I would imagine that the data created in audio, video and interactive forms far outweighs the data created in printed books – yet printed books are what we demand our children use.

Sir Ken Robinson:

Our children are living in the most intensely stimulating period in history, besieged by stimuli that distract them but we penalise them for being distracted – we want them to conform instead, to keep them bored, so we anesthetise them rather than release and harness their energy.

When a child has access to a device like an iPad which provides stimulation of multiple senses, of multiple regions of the brain, to entertain, to educate, to answer queries and foster curiosity, is it any wonder that teachers may have difficulties engaging with them using paper and a HB pencil? They’re used to exploring 3D interactive worlds, touching screens of light that make music, rearing dragons in fantasy lands and defeating goblin and skeleton hordes. Giving them a piece of blank paper and expecting them to tell a story is almost cruel.

It becomes equally nonsensical that our schools still use slips of printed paper to communicate with parents. And if you want further proof, why is it that so many ‘education’ technology tools model themselves after outdated technology (see ‘Blackboard’ – how many school children today have even seen a blackboard?).

POLITICS

I am faced with attempting to communicate the future to government. There is a cruel dichotomy in the way the digital industry works and the way government works. I was asked to describe the development of the marketplace up to the year 2030. Similarly, we have to respond to an industry that considers next year to be the far future.

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Dealing with students who are forced to comply with paper is easy as they grasp new concepts easily and even as I stand in a class, charged with delivering a guest lecture on digital, trying to inspire a response from the sullen faces, I know they are texting and messaging and dreaming of being somewhere else. It’s why I often ask the students to turn their mobiles on and take them off silent.

But if education is lagging behind society, then politics remains in the Stone Age. This is an environment that lives on paper, whose establishment thrives on tradition, whose operations are restricted from embracing digital. How else can we explain the resistance of local government to open data? How else can we explain the continued investment in construction, agriculture and other dying industries (compared to under-investment in knowledge economy sectors). Dealing with government remains a paper-bound process and their selection of medium is their message.

A heap of interesting links from the last couple of weeks

Information on the Collaboration Enabling Fund in Northern Ireland (6 MB PDF) And what do they do about it? “CIOs: do you know what your employees are saying about you and your agency on social media?” asks Laurence Miller at #futuregov — Andrew Stott (@DirDigEng) October 17, 2012 Edge Presents: Tadhg Kelly and Mark Sorrell … Continue reading “A heap of interesting links from the last couple of weeks”

Pi: it’s the software, stupid…

Yesterday, Donald Clark (who describes himself as a man with enough time) gave the Raspberry Pi a bit of a kicking behind the bike sheds. He detailed 7 reasons why it won’t work. His main question, though not bolded was: How do you actually learn with this thing? That’s the first problem. The Pi isn’t … Continue reading “Pi: it’s the software, stupid…”

Yesterday, Donald Clark (who describes himself as a man with enough time) gave the Raspberry Pi a bit of a kicking behind the bike sheds. He detailed 7 reasons why it won’t work.

His main question, though not bolded was: How do you actually learn with this thing?

That’s the first problem. The Pi isn’t a learning device. It’s a cheap introduction to computers. I believe the purpose of the device is to see whether the spark that turned a generation of young geeks into modern day programmers could be replicated with a device in 2012 that was a fifth of the price of the ancestors from the early 80s.

His main beefs and my point of view.

1. Amateurishness.

It’s not for everyone. I wonder if it is even for me. My interest in the Pi is in a score of cheap devices in tiny custom cases that can provide little services around the house. An AirPlay device for all of the TVs in the house? Sure. But having to fight with Linux? *sigh*

2. Nostalgia.

The device is definitely aimed at 40 year old men who remember the Spectrum, the Commodore and the BBC from their youth. They’re buying them for their kids. I know a couple of dads with no programming knowledge who think the Pi is a cheap computer for kids. It’s obviously not that.

3. Lack of realism.

I don’t think the goals are unrealistic. I think that others have greater expectations than the developers might have given themselves. The thing is: when you’re shooting for the stars and you hit the moon, you have to still congratulate yourself. Just ask Elon Musk.

4. Hardware fixation.

I’m most encouraged that it’s a low power ARM design that will do stuff. You do have to wonder why Arduino wasn’t good enough. And we’re seeing a raft of Android circuit board clones appearing. The hardware is important but, as Donald days, it’s not as important as the software.

5. Learning ignored.

I know of two projects which are dedicated to building software stacks for the Pi for schools. There will be more. Others have already ported Scratch to the Pi. That’s a great start. Learning happens. The problem is there is little support for Teaching.

6. Wrong target audience.

I’m interested in what could be done to make this appeal to 11 year olds. Release the code to some basic games? Make sure there’s a GameMaker software stack available? The thing that is missing here is the raft of support materials we had in the 80s; the magazines.

7. Not cool.

It’s differently cool. It’s not “Not cool”, it’s just different.

So, will it fail?

I agree with Donald that “it’s the software, stupid” and giving people Python as a development environment is not the same as the plethora of magazines such as Crash, C&VG, Your Spectrum, Your Sinclair, Sinclair User, Sinclair Programs, ZX Computing, MicroHobby and more.

I’m not interested in sitting back and waiting for it fail. I’m keen on doing something to help.

BBC Creative Collisions – Future of Media Technology #CC2012NI

Friday 8th June 2012 10am to 2pm includes lunch and refreshments BBC Blackstaff Studio 62-66 Great Victoria Street – Belfast – BT2 7BB Creative Collisions 2012 is an opportunity for you to engage in the cutting edge of media technology and innovation. Whether you want to harness technology for practical media solutions, diversify your innovative … Continue reading “BBC Creative Collisions – Future of Media Technology #CC2012NI”

Friday 8th June 2012
10am to 2pm includes lunch and refreshments
BBC Blackstaff Studio 62-66 Great Victoria Street – Belfast – BT2 7BB

Creative Collisions 2012 is an opportunity for you to engage in the cutting edge of media technology and innovation. Whether you want to harness technology for practical media solutions, diversify your innovative ambitions or simply enhance your knowledge, Creative Collisions 2012 is the place to be.

BE INSPIRED

BBC’s Stephen Nolan will host a ‘Live’ studio debate exploring the future of media
technology – Suggest hot debate topics NOW using Twitter #CC2012NI

Key Speakers:

  • Peter Johnston (Director) BBC Northern Ireland
  • Mervyn Middleby (Head of Technology Operations) BBC Northern Ireland
  • Alistair Hamilton (CEO) Invest NI

SHAPE THE FUTURE

An exciting opportunity to develop the broadcast technologies of the future with support from Invest NI, DCAL and BBC Northern Ireland – details revealed on the day!

Demonstrations from a top team of experts, including:

MY-SCHOOL from #c2k

This is the brochure for the new C2K: C2k My School Network 30 March 2012 I have a few reservations. And that’s just based on a quick glance through the brochure. MY-SCHOOL is ground breaking and unique, as it can be accessed from a range of devices, with any operating system using any supported browser. … Continue reading “MY-SCHOOL from #c2k”

This is the brochure for the new C2K: C2k My School Network 30 March 2012

I have a few reservations. And that’s just based on a quick glance through the brochure.

MY-SCHOOL is ground breaking and unique, as it can be accessed from a range of devices, with any operating system using any supported browser.

It’s unclear what is a “supported browser”. Does this mean Internet Explorer 9? Firefox? Safari? Opera? Skyfire? What about Internet Explorer 6? Safari Mobile? iCab? Dolphin? Camino?

LearningNI will be replaced by Fronter, an e-learning platform which is being used by schools globally.

The new service will provide a fully searchable content repository called Equella

They’re offering a centralised VLE and searchable content system. Which will be accessed by any computers running supported browsers and…running SECURUS. What’s SECURUS?

An application called Securus will be introduced which logs key strokes on managed and users own devices (with Windows and OSX operating systems) connected to the managed network. On detection of inappropriate words or phrases, an alert is sent to nominated individuals to allow immediate intervention and action.

I would be extremely sceptical and critical of any keystroke-logging software that a third party IT company would install on a computer that my sons or daughter brought to school. This is designed to limit access to inappropriate material, it won’t work on an iPad and it’s going to be installed on my computers, running my software; computers that may be shared with other members of the family to check banks, Facebook accounts? Absolutely preposterous.

And if I don’t install it? I’m not allowed to access the internet? That seems to be the implication.

Under the new solution, schools will benefit from substantial increases in bandwidth by moving away from the traditional contended broadband provision. This new service has been designed to give all schools a direct connection to the network giving better performance across the whole service.

You mean the contended broadband networks which schools installed to get around the frankly daft restrictions imposed by C2K? Or the contended broadband networks installed by C2K the first time round?

SIMS Discover is a powerful tool that enables the teacher to analyse and present SIMS data in a variety of ways, including Venn diagrams, bar charts, pie charts and line graphs.

Oh! Pictures! That’s all right then!

In short, this short brochure document leaves me a little cold. There are elements I welcome, such as faster broadband (though claiming to offer an un-contended broadband service seems to me to be a marketing lie) and better access to learning resources outside the school network but I am left chilled by some of the developments which are intended to increase security.

Schools are for education and an important point about educating students is to arm them with the knowledge of what is appropriate and what is not. If a child wants to look up inappropriate content then they will find a way – whether that’s by turning off the School WiFi and relying on their own home-bought 3G chip or by connecting their device to any third party wireless network. You can’t stop this using technology, you have to solve it using relationships, education and communication.

I was told this new contract was great but I see it very much like the original C2K vision. It says some of the right things but the detail is missing, there is an onerous undercurrent of IT administration gone mad and, if past behaviour is to be judged, the delivery of this will be loathed by student and teacher alike.

Use of the application SECURUS on computers that are not owned by the school is not only a ridiculous concept but also extremely dangerous. Do you trust the IT delivery company who won the tender? Enough to install a key logger? I’m certain I do not. The question is whether or not SECURUS is a condition of access. If it is, this is a preposterous concept. If not, why are they bothering?

Technology in… Education: Unwiring Teachers

Technology in Education is the start a small series of blog posts which I’m grouping together as “Technology in…” The idea is to highlight some novel examples of technology (especially mass market consumer technology) being used in vertical markets – such as Education, Business, Healthcare… Larry Reiff writes about Untethered Teachers I have an AppleTV … Continue reading “Technology in… Education: Unwiring Teachers”

Technology in Education is the start a small series of blog posts which I’m grouping together as “Technology in…” The idea is to highlight some novel examples of technology (especially mass market consumer technology) being used in vertical markets – such as Education, Business, Healthcare…

Larry Reiff writes about Untethered Teachers

I have an AppleTV in my classroom hooked up to a projector. Using my iPad and AirPlay, I can wirelessly mirror any content on my iPad to the screen at the front of the room. The real advantage is evident during collaborative activities. Students can use their own iOS devices to connect to the AppleTV to share their work with the rest of the class. I can be anywhere in the room and still run my lesson. I can pull up sound and video clips on my iPad and instantly share them with my class without being attached to any particular location in the room.

The cost savings are incredible. Most interactive white boards cost between $2500-$3500 per unit. That cost doesn’t include the man hours for installation. You can purchase an iPad, a projector, and an AppleTV for under $1000.

I’d like to see more examples of this sort of thing if you have any.