[Sugar-news] Sugar Digest 2009-05-11

Walter Bender walter.bender at gmail.com
Mon May 11 11:39:32 EDT 2009

===Sugar Digest ===

The discussion about pedagogy on the IAEP list intensified this week.
My takeaway from the discussion is that while we won't (and don't need
to) reach consensus about "one right way" to teach, we must have
consensus around our goals as a community or our efforts will become
too diffuse to be of any practical use; we are not engaged in an
academic exercise—we are touching the lives of real children on a
global scale. Indeed, the primary reason we spun One Laptop per Child
from MIT (and Sugar Labs from One Laptop per Child) is because we
intend to deliver "things to think with" to learners everywhere.

As a community, we have consensus that Sugar and Sugar activities
should be freely and readily available to learners everywhere. This
would suggest that the developer community continues to strive to make
it “simple” to create and share Sugar activities and its efforts to
create versions of Sugar that run on multiple operating systems and on
multiple hardware platforms.

But what is Sugar? At one level, Sugar is an API that provides a
unified framework for activity developers to support collaboration,
reflection, and sharing in their programs. But those features were
chosen with a purpose: to encourage learners to engage in authentic
problem-solving and a critical dialogue about whatever problem in
which they are engaged. This engaged, learners will develop skills
that help them in all aspects of life.

Sometimes that dialog is with your peers, sometimes it is with a
teacher or mentor. Sometimes it is open-ended and sometimes it is
within the context of structured instruction. In every case, it
involves expressing, debugging, critiquing, and reflecting. In every
case, it is enhanced by "the hard things to learn", Alan Kay's
"non-universals", e.g., reading and writing; deductive abstract
mathematics; model-based science; etc.

The culture of FLOSS, with its emphasis on ''en plein air'' debugging
and critique, is part of our pedagogy. Sugar embodies the message that
everyone has an opportunity and responsibility to contribute to our
knowledge commons. That contribution need not be Python code. Members
of the Sugar community must:

* explore, share, evaluate, and debate best practices;
* provide technical and pedagogical support; and
* create new learning activities and pedagogical practice.


Roland Gesthuizen has a concrete set of suggestions for teacher
participation in our community:

* report back issues that make using the Sugar interface difficult
when used it in the classroom (collaborate)
* develop and share lessons built around applications that work on
Sugar (curriculum)
* share by word of mouth, blog and twitter with colleagues that we are
using Sugar (communication)
* ask deep and hard questions about the learning that goes on when
students use Sugar (pedagogy)
* work to answer these questions (research)
* and more...

===Help Wanted===

In the run up to the June Beta release of Sugar on a Stick, Sebastian
Dziallas has asked for help with testing all of the activities being
considered for inclusion. We'd like to be more thorough in finding any
problems so that we can be sure to address them in time for the final
release in September/October.

===In the community===

The OLPC France Sugar Camp meeting will be held in Paris on May 16
(See http://sugarcamp.eventbrite.com/).

There will also be a Sugar meeting on the 17th (See

A team of Babson College management students will be working with
Sugar Labs beginning this fall as part of a Management Consulting
Field Experience (MCFE) Program.

===Tech Talk===

Christian Schmidt led a Design Team meeting this weekend that covered
topics such as improvements to the Home View, a clock extension on the
Frame; support for printing within Sugar; a global strategy for
keyboard shortcuts; and a global dictionary (See

The Food Force team has a new release and is looking for feedback
(Download the .xo bundle from

===Sugar Labs ===

Gary Martin has generated a SOM from the past week of discussion on
the IAEP mailing list (Please see [[Image:2009-May-2-8-som.jpg]]). It
is worth a close look this week.


Walter Bender
Sugar Labs

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