[IAEP] Sugar Digest 2009-08-27

Walter Bender walter.bender at gmail.com
Thu Aug 27 17:50:19 EDT 2009

=== Sugar Digest ===

You are very right that if a person doesn't have firmly in mind just
what science is really about, they can confuse a representation of
ideas gotten by scientific means with science itself. – Alan Kay

1. The discussion about the merits and pitfalls of the use of
simulation in science education continued this week (See

2. María del Pilar Sáenz led a deployment meeting this week (See
We reviewed the status of Sugar deployments, discussed the most
pressing needs from deployments, and alternative communication
channels that might result in more feedback from the field. Another
discussion on the IAEP list
[http://lists.sugarlabs.org/archive/iaep/2009-August/007842.html] is
an indication of just how passionate the community is about being
responsive to the needs of deployments.

3. Bernie Innocenti and I spent a day in Barre VT with Paul Flint,
Kevin Cole, Nicco Eneidi, Colin Applegate, et al. to discuss the role
Sugar might play in various education initiatives in the region.
Despite too much driving in pouring rain, it was a fun, productive
session. (Bernie helped Colin get up to speed on packaging for Ubuntu
(Colin has subsequently build Sugar 0.86 for Jaunty) and did some
debugging of Turtle Art while engaging in discussion with some
teachers. One provocative question that was raised: What is the
advantage of a "platform" as opposed to a bunch of cool applications?
There are many cool applications out there and commercial (e.g.,
kidzui, which caters to parents who want someone else to worry about
what Internet content is appropriate for their children) and
non-commercial (e.g., Curriki, a place where teachers can pick and
chose applications and content that meet specific curricula demands)
collections. What is the advantage of the Sugar approach? We can sing
the praises of many aspects of the Sugar platform—the Journal, the
collaboration model, integrated view source, etc.—but I think it
ultimately comes down the way in which these features enhance the
ability to bring multiple learners together around a collection of
activities to engage in authentic investigations. This is a potential
that is not yet fully realized, but having spent time this summer
watching children move fluidly across multiple activities to, for
example, build a memory game, is seeing Sugar at its best.

4. The recent FSF campaign condemning the use of Windows 7 in
education (See http://windows7sins.org/) imputes OLPC in complicity
with Microsoft. It is disappointing that the FSF is not making any
constructive arguments in favor of free software alternatives to
Windows such as Sugar on GNU/Linux, which is currently shipped on
every machine distributed by OLPC.

===Help wanted/help received===

5. Google Summer of Code 2009 has official come to a close. We were
fortunate to have five intern/mentor pairs, each of whom had a
productive two months. Congratulations to Lucian Branescu, Felipe
López Toledo, Sacha Silbe, Ben Schwartz, Vamsi Krishna Davuluri, Bryan
Berry, Andres Ambrois, and Assim Deodia. Special thanks to Jameson
Quinn for organizing the program for Sugar Labs and to Google for
their generosity.

===In the community===

6. One result of Pilar's revitalization of the Deployment Team is that
we are being more explicit in our targeting of feedback from

Joshua Pritikin reports:
:Our school [http://wiki.laptop.org/go/OLPC_India/Nashik] has some 200
students. Counter to OLPC best practices, we have 33 XO laptops using
the "computer lab" model. We would like to move to child ownership,
but we haven't found enough funding to do that.

:This year we issued USB keys to the students. USB keys are not as
easy to use as the integrated journal, but at least some kids are
successful saving their work.

:The teachers are mainly impressed by Moodle. To teachers who had
never used a computer, being able to create an online quiz is
something of a revelation. I would like to place more emphasis on
Turtle Art and Etoys, but teachers don't see the point yet. Children
are mostly left to explore the laptops on their own when they have
free time.

:I have no idea how much the students are learning with the laptops.
At this point, everything is about appearances. For example, we
convinced parents to pay double what they paid last year by
withholding access to the laptops until they paid up. In many cases,
the kids begged the parents to use the laptops. We managed to raise
our fee to $100 per year.

:Indian electrical wiring is notorious. I am particularly proud of our
power distribution solution (see attached photos). Early on, there was
talk of an http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Peripherals/XOctoPlug. We made
something similar.

:The lack of child ownership has an upside. It is fairly easy to test
new SoaS builds without worrying about backups or deleting a child's
work. We are working closely with Martin Dengler to test the latest
builds. NANDblaster is a dream come true.

Christoph Derndorfer has been further organizing a framework in the
wiki [[Deployment_Team/Places]] for maintaining an overview of where
and how Sugar is used. Please help us maintain it.

===Tech Talk===

7. Sebastian Dziallas and the Sugar on a Stick team are making
progress towards a new release that incorporates Fedora 12 and a
number of features that are the result of feedback from "Strawberry".
They are producing new builds for testing (not ready for deployment).
Please test http://download.sugarlabs.org/soas/snapshots/3/SoaS3-200908182110.iso.

8. Bert Freudenberg and the Etoys team released
http://etoys.laptop.org/rpms/Etoys-103.xo this week. Try it, you'll
like it.

9. Simon Schampijer and the Release Team have been busy preparing for
0.86. We had feature freeze last week; the next step is to chase down
outstanding bugs. You can help by testing the new Glucose bits that
have been released by Simon and Tomeu Vizoso.

===Sugar Labs===

10. 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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