[IAEP] Into the classroom.

Bill Kerr billkerr at gmail.com
Fri Aug 8 20:39:35 EDT 2008

On Sat, Aug 9, 2008 at 8:09 AM, David Farning <dfarning at sugarlabs.org>wrote:

> Product.                Check.
> Delivery Mechanism.     Check.
> Customers               hmmm.
> Last week I sent out a community outreach update in which I stated that
> engaging the education community was blocked until we could put livecds
> into educators hands.  Happily, I can now say that I was wrong.
> The challenge is how to get Sugar onto the computers that are in fornt
> of children.
> My background is technology, so I was looking at problem as a matter of
> pushing the technology downstream.  Instead, we can look at the problem
> as matter of having teachers pull the technology into the classroom.
> At this point we have a reasonable piece of software.  The Sugar desktop
> is functional and there are a couple of demonstration activities.  Our
> developers are doing a good job getting organized.  It won't be long
> until we get a into a innovate-stabilize cadence which will allow us to
> develop an excellent piece of software at good pace.
> We have a delivery mechanism, the Linux distributions.  Redhat, Fedora,
> Debian, and Ubuntu all do one thing very well.  They deliver software.
> The olpc-team at Fedora is gaining ground at an amazing rate.  The
> sugar-team in the .deb side of the fence is also doing well.
> The education spins have not been doing so well.  Skolelinux is
> establishing a pretty good foothold in Northern Europe.  But other spins
> are less far along.
> Rather then use the education spins to push, we can use the education
> communities to pull.  Some of the education communities that seem
> promising are:
> 1.  Constructionist.
> 2.  Collaboration oriented.  There are many communities springing up
> around collaboration oriented technologies such as Moodle.
> 3.  Open Source.  There is a small, but growing number of organization
> based around spreading FLOSS in the school systems.
> 4.  On-line.  There are numerous organizations involved in online
> development of lesson plans and books.
> I would say our next step is to start engaging these organizations in
> figuring out how they can best use Sugar in their own classrooms.
> I am not naive enough to believe that we will get widespread adoption
> overnight using this method.  But, the listen, learn, improve, release
> model of open source development is a natural fit.
> dfarning

good post david

Personally I see the need for some more theory-practice work around the
theme of constructionism, the need to clarify what it means exactly and its
relationship to other learning theories and practices - we have some notable
educational and mind theorists such as alan kay and marvin minsky who don't
use the C___ word in part because it has become so diffuse, fuzzy and

There is a new group of educational practitioners (some of them also
theorists) who have grown up around the web2.0 (aka as school2.0) practices
but in some respects this has the appearance of a ground zero movement that
is either not aware or does not mention the earlier ideas of the use of
computers in education eg. the use of logo in schools. This focuses on the
use of web2.0 apps such as blogs, wikis for enhancing learning. This latter
group often does not consider the use of programming languages which
separates them from the Papert approach.

also the Siemens - Downes group has put forward a new educational theory of
networked learning under the banner of connectivism (sic, not connectionism)

One possibility or line of approach for sugar would be to integrate these
two approaches - could be crudely described as computer mediated
constructionism + collaboration (using slogans here while advocating caution
in their use)

Some online educational communities do not focus on on line lesson plans and
books but more take the approach that immersion in media, eg. mediated
writing through shared blogs (and use of other web apps) will liberate
humanity from Schools and Teachers, which are sometimes seen as the problem

School are also having to face the issue of what to do about the cheaper
more ubiquitous presence of computers - and they really don't know what to
do because in general the uptake from teachers has been slow

I'm probably oversimplifying a lot but in general I think it's fair to say
that the use of computers in education is very much problematic and in a
state of flux - so new ideas built around the affordances of Sugar software
could achieve some traction fairly quickly, possibly :-)
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