[IAEP] Teaching with computers / Enseniando con Computadoras

Alan Kay alan.nemo at yahoo.com
Sat Nov 19 10:08:29 EST 2011

Hi David

I think you make a valid point about open source software. The problem is that the end-users in this case have not bought into this dynamic -- and, given the real goals and the small windows of opportunity available, the open source dynamic is not just moot here, but is a real problem.

I think what we all have quite a bit of difficulty with is doing *packaging* that is up to the level needed by the end users. This is a separate skill set (and set of talents). 

Just speaking for Viewpoints (but I think this applies to most of us) we are just much better at thinking of "potentially good features" and in implementing these up to some level of usability -- but *we* certainly fall short of what I would call real packaging. I was a champion of Hypercard at Apple and helped get it to be approved as a product ... and then was quite sobered, even shocked, by the amount of work -- hundreds of additional person-years -- that Apple put into turning something I thought was great for users, into something that *was* actually great for users. And it wasn't just the person-hours, but "the check-list" and vetting that was the key.

Very best wishes,


> From: David Van Assche <dvanassche at gmail.com>
>To: Walter Bender <walter.bender at gmail.com> 
>Cc: voluntarios y administradores OLPC para usuarios docentes <olpc-sur at lists.laptop.org>; Carlos Rabassa <carnen at mac.com>; argentina at lists.laptop.org; olpc bolivia <olpc-bolivia at lists.laptop.org>; Lista de correo del equipo Somos-Azúcar <somosazucar at lists.sugarlabs.org>; IAEP SugarLabs <iaep at lists.sugarlabs.org>; OLPC Puno <olpcpuno at gmail.com> 
>Sent: Saturday, November 19, 2011 6:20 AM
>Subject: Re: [IAEP] Teaching with computers / Enseniando con Computadoras
>Also, what makes apple great to most people is their hardware not their software, their latest OS both on touchpads and laptops is horribly buggy, and feels more like beta software than even windows 7...
>Sugar isn't perfect, but its far far less bloated than any other option available, and that makes it comfortable to code for, fun to use, and hopefully easier to teach with. If only there were more marketing, more money, more coders, etc,etc...
>That's the deal with all open source software though... eventually it seems, if one holds on long enough, all those things do come... look at mozilla, apache, mysql, or suse... either individuals or very big companies come in and help out... why should it be any different with Sugar?
>David Van Assche
>2011/11/19 Walter Bender <walter.bender at gmail.com>
>2011/11/19 Carlos Rabassa <carnen at mac.com>:
>>> Traducción al Español sigue al texto en Inglés
>>> Warning: This link promotes Apple:
>>> http://www.apple.com/education/profiles/punahou/#video-punahou?sr=hotnews.rss
>>> I am sending it to Sugar devotees,  not to plant heretic ideas among them,
>>>  but proposing that we read it as a practice of critical thinking in an
>>> attempt to mine any good ideas from it.
>>> Just think for a moment that Apple is frequently considered the birthplace
>>> of the concept of using computers in education;  maybe they know something
>>> on the subject.
>>> May I suggest we read the text in this link replacing "any working computer"
>>> for Apple.  Many of the statements will still be true.
>>> Please notice many of the applications they use are not exclusive of Apple,
>>>  they are also the basic and easier to use applications in the Sugar XOs
>>> like Navigate, Write, Record.
>>> Let´s try to imagine ourselves for a moment in front of a classroom about to
>>> decide how to use our computers.
>>> Most of the text refers to the way they teach rather than to specific
>>> applications.
>>> I quote a paragraph that summarizes my point of the last few days about the
>>> urgent need to perfect Sugar:
>>> "Because the Mac and its applications are so easy to use and so closely
>>> integrated into the curriculum, teachers and students can focus on the
>>> quality and creative expression of learning, rather than on how to use the
>>> tools."
>>> One of the videos, linked from near the bottom of the page,  about Central
>>> Elementary School in Escondido, California,  called my attention among other
>>> reasons because they do not use fancy computers,  they use an IPod Touch.
>>> List prices for individual purchases of IPods Touch start at $199.
>>> Traducción al Español
>>> Advertencia: Este enlace es una promoción de Apple:
>>> http://www.apple.com/education/profiles/punahou/#video-punahou?sr=hotnews.rss
>>> No lo estoy enviando a los devotos de Sugar para sembrar ideas heréticas
>>> entre ellos,  sino proponiendo lo leamos como práctica de pensamiento
>>> crítico tratando de encontrar algunas buenas ideas en él.
>>> Pensemos por un momento que frecuentemente se considera a Apple como el
>>> lugar de nacimiento del concepto de usar computadoras en educación; tal vez
>>> ellos saben algo sobre el tema.
>>> Me permito sugerir que leamos el texto en este enlace remplazando Apple por
>>> "cualquier computadora que funcione".  Muchas de las afirmaciones seguirán
>>> siendo ciertas.
>>> Favor de notar que muchas de las aplicaciones que usan no son exclusivas de
>>> Apple;  también son las básicas y más fáciles de usar entre las aplicaciones
>>> de Sugar en las XO,  tales como Navegar, Escribir y Grabar.
>>> Imaginemos por un momento que estamos parados frente a una clase decidiendo
>>> cómo usar nuestras computadoras.
>>> La mayor parte del texto habla de cómo enseñan más que de aplicaciones
>>> específicas.
>>> Repito un párrafo que resume el punto que discutíamos en los últimos días
>>> sobre la necesidad urgente de perfeccionar Sugar:
>>> "Siendo las [computadoras] Mac y sus aplicaciones tan fáciles de usar y tan
>>> integradas a la currícula,  los maestros y los estudiantes pueden concentrar
>>> su atención en la calidad y expresión creativa de aprender, en vez de en
>>> cómo usar las herramientas."
>>> Me llamó la atención uno de los videos al final de la página,  sobre Central
>>> Elementary School en Escondido, California,  entre otras cosas,  porque no
>>> usan computadoras lujosas sino un IPod Touch.  El precio de lista para
>>> compra individual de los IPod Touch,  comienza en 199 dólares.
>>> Carlos Rabassa
>>> Volunteer
>>> Plan Ceibal Support Network
>>> Montevideo, Uruguay
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> IAEP -- It's An Education Project (not a laptop project!)
>>> IAEP at lists.sugarlabs.org
>>> http://lists.sugarlabs.org/listinfo/iaep
>>OK Carlos, we've heard your opinion.
>>(1) You think Sugar is terrible (your stated reasons -- not enough
>>professional developers and the community doesn't want feedback from
>>(2) You think Apple products are great.
>>You are welcome to your opinion.
>>Now some facts.
>>(1) We on this list are Sugar Labs, not Apple.
>>(2) There are approximately two-million teachers and children using Sugar.
>>I hope you don't feel the need to argue with me about these facts.
>>Now my opinions:
>>(1) As a community, we have an opportunity to make Sugar better as a
>>learning platform.
>>(2) As a community, we can (and do) work with teachers, seeking and
>>getting feedback and should do more.
>>(3) As a community, we can (and do) work with teachers on integrating
>>Sugar into the classroom and should do more.
>>(4) As a community, we can (and do) share best practices so the good
>>ideas spread and should do more.
>>These are the things I work towards and I think that the people on
>>this list generally share these goals. Since Sugar is a Free Software
>>project, everyone is free to contribute, bottom up, in any way they
>>choose. No one needs permission or management approval. This includes
>>the teachers and the children. We should be encouraging them to
>>appropriate their own destiny.
>>My conclusion:
>>Let's put our energy into trying to make things better. And let's
>>discuss things that are actionable.
>>Walter Bender
>>Sugar Labs
>>IAEP -- It's An Education Project (not a laptop project!)
>>IAEP at lists.sugarlabs.org
>IAEP -- It's An Education Project (not a laptop project!)
>IAEP at lists.sugarlabs.org
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