[IAEP] Report from the field (graz,Austria#1)

Wade Brainerd wadetb at gmail.com
Tue Jan 27 18:49:50 EST 2009

Hey David,
Thanks for the excellent report - it's always great to hear feedback from
real teachers.

On Tue, Jan 27, 2009 at 6:13 PM, David Van Assche <dvanassche at gmail.com>wrote:

>        Flipsticks activtiy
> The first activity that was questioned was flipsticks, which was seen as a
> great tool for younger kids, but lacking collaborative abilities. An
> idea which was brought up was splitting the flipsticks work into user
> groups, and have the groups then combine their animations to create a
> bigger final animation. The reasoning behind this was that often there
> is not much time in a class, and to have every student to their little
> bit, and then combine it all is much more efficient, and a lesson in
> collaboration at the same time.

 The MaMaMedia activities are quite solid, but have not changed in quite
some time.  We should see if we can get their developers to come back and
add collaboration support.  I'd like to see some simple IK in Flipsticks, to
make moving the joints around faster.

       Geoquiz and other visual quiz activities
> Another suggestion that came after showing Geoquiz was the
> development of some sort of authoring tool for this kind of activity,
> which generally involves showing images and asking questions. This
> could then be applied for many localised activities. In the case of
> Austria, for example, children of a younger age learn about Austria
> itself, in a geographical sense, but not too much about the rest of
> the planet until they are older. The Geoquiz activity as it stands was
> criticised for not telling a user when an answer is correct or wrong,
> for not having good controls, and for having unchangable content. The
> other option that would be a requirement for these kind of activities
> is a score card or report that the teacher could somehow store and
> print, based on children collaborating on quiz type activities.

One of the most common activity requests is a general purpose collaborative
Quiz activity.  The ActivityTeam will try to meet this need in the near
future, for now I'm adding it to our TODO list.

       Main subject matter requested as simple activities with lesson plans
> The main subjects that were requested were German (first language) and
> Mathematics, which seems to coincide with the requirements of other
> deployments like the Nepali deployment. In terms of mathematics, these
> activites should be as simple as possible, for example, the
> multiplication/division/adding/subtraction tables done in such a way
> that the teacher could choose which numbers were to be selected and
> practiced on any given day and by any given student. It should also,
> then, be possible to pair up students collaboratively to answer these,
> and once again, at the end of the session, collect the answers in a
> score card or report, that could be saved or printed by the teacher.

Math and Language teaching activities are another high priority need.  There
are some projects out there that address them, but I'm not sure what state
they are all in.  Do you have a sense of what exactly the teachers were
hoping for?

>        Typing tutor or spelling activities
> In a similar vein, some kind of activity for practicing spelling
> should be implemented and monitored in the same way as a maths apps...
> A general request for all activities was the ability to have an admin
> view/session that the teacher could use to follow scores, assignment
> of individual objects of a particular activity and their layout, and
> the users themselves. This would be something like a monitoring tool.

I've been working on a Typing Tutor for the past few months, it's called
Typing Turtle.  I hope to have a first general release in the next month or

http://dev.laptop.org/~wadeb/TypingTurtle-6.xo (check the folder for updates
in the future)

       Simple UI and Simple app rules
> It was emphasised that the simplicity of applications is extremely
> important for younger children, and that many ported apps are just too
> cluttered to be useful in any way. They were very happy with the
> simplicty and usability of sugar itself, but were disappointed with
> many of the apps, which either ignored design conventions or were
> simply ports of already complex and badly layed out activities.

Agreed generally, but specific comments that can be forwarded to individual
activity developers are very helpful.

>        Collaborative typing tool with speed recognition
> Another example of an application they wanted to see was a simple
> typing activity which would involve the teacher typing an example
> text, and then the kids trying to type the same phrase as quickly as
> possible with the times to completion and error/rate being calculated
> for each child, and then reported to a score card or report followed
> by saving of this or printing out.

This kind of Typing Race will hopefully become an aspect of Typing Turtle in
the future.  In the meantime, we should check with Daniel Drake about the
status of his KeyDemon activity.

>        Gcompris is a hit, but needs the admin tool
> While we focused on presenting gcompris as a great tool for younger
> children with hundreds of mini apps, it was asked if one could
> seperate these mini apps into layouts for particular groups of
> students, or individual students, and again have a central admin part
> to keep track of what children are working on and even suggest a
> progression plan (activities to be worked through and scores for those
> activities to be achieved.) G compris already has an admin part and
> this should be included within sugar, as it seems to be a vital
> component to get it to be anything more than a fun experimental game.

Does anyone know why the Admin component is not part of Sugar?  I haven't
been involved with the Gcompris activity development to date.

>        The simplest app wins (speak)
> The app they found most to their liking due to its simplicity and the
> fun surrounding it was the speak application. The criticism was that
> speak should really be having the letters sound like they do in words.
> For example, 'M' should be pronounced mmmm and not emmm. This would
> require the fixing of only the sound bytes of single characters.

Nice to hear!  Guess we need more creative, simple activities like that one.

>        Meshed collaboration extremely shaky, especially with more than 6
> users.
> There was some skepticism as to how well collaboration would work as
> we seemed unable to get it to work well due to multiple wireless
> signals. A server was suggested by us to overcome this and other
> issues (storing of lesson plans for the activities in moodle, backups
> to prevent local storage problems, ejabberd for collaboration between
> xos and non-xos.)

What build / hardware were you testing on out of curiousity?  The only thing
I can say is hopefully the new firmware in 8.2.1 will have some effect.

>        Sugar on a stick, sugar on Ubuntu not Ready
> Finally, it was concluded by us after presenting sugar on a stick with
> the very latest binaries and packages, that, at least on ubuntu, sugar
> is not ready for even experimental use, as more than 50% of the apps
> do not work, and networking seems to be broken too.

SoaS is still in very early days it seems.   Information about which
activites break and how should be posted to
http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/ActivityTeam/ActivityStatus if you have time to
do so.

Thanks again for the data.  Keep sending feedback!

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