[Sugar-news] Sugar Digest 2009-06-15

Walter Bender walter.bender at gmail.com
Mon Jun 15 11:10:23 EDT 2009

===Sugar Digest===

1. It seems that once per month the computer vs. phone debate
reemerges. This time, http://edutechdebate.org/ has taken up the
theme. Wayan Vota posed the question: Mobile Phones: Better Learning
Tools than Computers? Michael Trucano takes the affirmative position
in his essay, http://edutechdebate.org/mobile-phones-and-computers/phones-are-a-real-alternative-to-computers/
while Robert B. Kozma argues that
The usual arguments of pervasiveness (phones) and capacity (computers)
were made.

We touched on a different set of themes when we discussed this topic
"versus, not" [http://lists.sugarlabs.org/archive/iaep/2009-May/005484.html]
back in May. We were responding in part to Mark Guzdial's blog: Does
"There's an App for That" Hurt or Help Computing Education?
[http://www.amazon.com/gp/blog/post/PLNK3F4TMBURELZZK]. At the time I
said that I was optimistic about the role of phones in learning—a
u-turn from my long-standing position. The arguments about the
differences in affordances between phones and computer remain
relevant: e.g., you wouldn't write an essay on your phone if you have
a computer at hand; and as Kozma points out, the large installed base
of phones is not composed primarily of the latest iPhone on a 3G
network. The current installed base has much less capacity. But that
will change over time.

My disregard of phones for learning had been based on my fear that
"phone culture" was turning us into a society of consumers of those
services that "Ma Bell" chose for us. But the iPhone and the Android
are changing that. The meme that is rapidly becoming part of our
culture is that phones are programmable, i.e., computers. This is a
huge step forward. There is merit in Guzdial's argument that the Apple
marketing pitch discourages end-users from becoming active
participants in the creative process—we must be vigilant in combating
this trend. But now that the phone company's model of "phone as a
service" is eroding, there is reason for optimism that the
corresponding model of "learning as a service" will also wane. The end
of restrictions on who can develop what for whom is an important
cultural development that will have an overall positive impact on
learning, regardless of the platform. Sugar, which is designed for a
relatively lightweight environments, will become more significant to

2. [http://nexcopy.com Nexcopy] has generously donated a USB
replicator to Sugar Labs. It will be a great help in our various
Sugar-on-a-Stick pilot programs this summer.

===Help Wanted===

3. Hamilton Chua has written some patches to enable SoaS images to
register with School Servers, thus enabling backup and restore. The
patch is described in http://dev.sugarlabs.org/ticket/916. Please try
to test it.

4. Lionel Laske reports that OLPC France has launch a French FLOSS
Manual Sprint and a large part of the work has been completed. They
are now looking for help with "Help." Lionel asks, is there a way to
do quickly a “one shot” build of the Help Activity in French (and
other languages)?

5. Samy Boutayeb is seeking input on digital media
[http://lists.laptop.org/pipermail/olpc-mg/2009-June/000169.html] for
the OLPC/Sugar pilot in Madagascar.

6. David Van Assche published
[http://www.nubae.com/collaboration-session-sugar-june10 a report]
from the collaboration-testing session that took place last week (10
June 10). Please leave your comments, especially those who took part.
We plan to continue testing again on Wednesday, 17 June, at 20:00 UTC,
irc.freenode.org, channel #sugar-collaboration.

===In the community===

7. Coming up next week: Sugar at http://linuxtag.org (24–27 June in Berlin).

8. Also, Sugar at http://www.fossed.com/ in Bethel, Maine, 24–26 June.

9. And Sugar at[http://center.uoregon.edu/ISTE/NECC2009/ in Washington
DC, 28 June–1 July.

10. The OLPC Learning CLub, DC, is hosting a Family XO Mesh Meetup
Saturday, 20 June from 10 AM to 1 PM.

===Tech Talk===

11. I modified Mitchel Charity's Ruler activity
[http://activities.sugarlabs.org/en-US/sugar/addon/4192] to look up
the screen resolution so that it would render properly on non-OLPC-XO
displays. I'm parsing xdpyinfo, which may not be the most reliable way
to get the display resolution; feedback from testers would be

===Sugar Labs===

12. Gary Martin has generated a SOM from the past week of discussion
on the IAEP mailing list (Please see

Walter Bender
Sugar Labs

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