[IAEP] [Sugar-devel] sugar digest 2012-09-06

Alan Jhonn Aguiar Schwyn alanjas at hotmail.com
Fri Sep 7 04:58:09 EDT 2012

Thank's for share!

Date: Fri, 7 Sep 2012 12:51:06 +0530
From: salil.konkar at gmail.com
To: walter.bender at gmail.com
CC: iaep at lists.sugarlabs.org; sugar-devel at lists.sugarlabs.org; community-news at lists.sugarlabs.org
Subject: Re: [IAEP] [Sugar-devel] sugar digest 2012-09-06

The video of Walter's talk at the Goa Instutute of Management are available in three parts, at the links given below:

Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jj6awWWLoN0

Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=juaN4El1mC8

Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fjcDTuqeBvk


On 6 September 2012 23:28, Walter Bender <walter.bender at gmail.com> wrote:

== Sugar Digest ==

1. Just back from two exhilarating weeks in India. Along with Harriet

Vidyasagar, I visited with Sugar and OLPC aficionados in Delhi, Goa,

Mumbai, and Guwahati. It was quite eye-opening.

The first stop was Delhi. Harriet had arranged meetings with Sesame

Street India, which is using Sugar in an after-school program. They

were blown away when I told them the history of the Simple Graph

program, one of their favorites. Then we went to JNU where I met with

Dr. Ajith Kumar. Kumar works at the inter-university particle

accelerator center, but is also the inventor of ExpEyes [1], a

peripheral device similar to Arduino (or Lego WeDo) but for more

serious EE work (it has a signal generator and a buffer for doing

precise sampling of signals). Of course, I could not resist writing a

Turtle Art plugin for his device [2].

I also attended a seminar on Digital Literacy sponsored by the

Hindustan Times, Intel, and Microsoft. The seminar itself was pretty

depressing: a very paternalistic approach to providing government

services to the masses. But I met a number of good people there whom I

will be following up with.

Also in Delhi, I got a chance to see Manusheel Gupta, who had interned

for me in the very early days of OLPC. It was very nice to catch up.

The next stop was Goa, where there is a small OLPC deployment. One of

the highlights of the trip was finally meeting Salil Konkar, who has

been maintaining the deployment on a volunteer basis. There are not

enough laptops for each child to get their own, so before each class,

a selected group of students retrieve then (XO 1.0s) from a charging

station (designed at the Homi Bhabha Centre) for use in the class. The

students, perhaps seven to eight years old,  were using the Numbers

activity that day, and although it was somewhat of a traditional class

in format--desks in rows facing forward--they were actively engaged

and helping each other. I had a prototype of XO Touch with me, so I

did a small study with some of the kids to see how they took to it.

(Although it is unfair to compare with the erratic touchpad of the

first-generation XO 1.0s, it was nonetheless obvious that touch will

make a big difference: they interface, which had been getting in the

way was suddenly in background; all focus was on the math.)

Another highlight in Goa was the opportunity to meet Rita Paes, who

directs the Nirmala Institute, a teacher-training college [3]. I got a

chance to talk to the students about Sugar (who welcomed me with a

lovely ceremony) and with Rita about the potential for establishing a

center of excellence for teacher training to support our efforts in

India. I saw great potential. Rita also introduced Harriet and me to

some locals who have interest in helping with the localization of

Sugar into Konkani. It was interesting to me that some people write

Konkani using Latin script, while others use Devanagari script. It is

somewhat of a political issue, so Chris Leonard has enable both

communities to work in pootle ([4], [5]).

>From there, I went to the University of Goa [6], where I gave a

lecture to the engineering students. The next evening, I gave a

seminar on how to write a Sugar activity to about seventy students.

Clearly there is some latent interest in the project. I also have a

lecture at the local meeting of the ACM, which happened to coincide

with my visit. Finally, I travelled an hour out of town to the Goa

Institute of Management [7], a beautiful campus on a hill top, to talk

to the students on the theme of "learning to change the world." We

discussed strategies for making Sugar (and OLPC) take hold on the


>From Goa I travelled to Mumbai, where I was hosted by the Homi Bhabha

Centre for Science Education Tata Institute of Fundamental Research,

specifically G Nagarjuna and his students at the Gnowledge Lab [8].

G's students are well versed in Sugar, having been active in

supporting the OLPC deployment in Khairat [9]. Their principal project

is metastudio.org [10], a peer-to-peer collaborative workspace that

utilizes many semantic features. We discussed the possibility of

folding some of their work into future School Server designs.

Hopefully they will be able to participate (mostly likely on line) in

the discussions at the SF summit [11].

>From Mumbai, I visited two schools: a school for children with

disabilities and the village school in Khairat. At the former, I

discussed with the computer teacher the possibility of using Sugar

instead of Microsoft Windows XP as a way to engage the children more

directly. While Sugar is attractive from the learning perspective, one

concern is that a good deal of the computer training is geared towards

an exam that is based on master of Microsoft products that is a hurtle

the children must jump over in order to enter the job market. Of

course, for most populations of learners, master one word processor

means that one can quickly master any other, but it is still to be

demonstrated that such a transfer would occur with this population.

At the school in Khairat, I got a chance to see what has sprouted from

the seed that Carla Gomez Monroy planted four years ago. Khairat was

one of the early OLPC deployments and, although the program has as yet

to take off in India as a whole, this program is still going strong.

Harriet and I were welcomed to the village with a traditional ceremony

that included beautiful garlands of flowers. We sat with some of the

mothers and preschool children, whom I immediately presented the XO

Touch. The children took to it immediately. One child, using paint,

kept looking at his finger for the ink. But the real fun was visiting

the classroom. The children took turns standing in front of the class

to talk about their work: often drawing, custom-made memory games,

writing (in both English and Marathi--they are completely fluid in

switching between scripts on the XO keyboard), and Turtle Art. I got

to watch as a child figured out how to scale his drawings in Turtle

Art. I got a chance to present to the class, so I thought I would

engage them in something a bit different. Daniel Drake has written a

yet-to-be-released activity that features some animated dance and

exercise moves. I showed them some dances and they did not need

prompting to follow along. But then I asked them to some me some of

the local dance steps. I challenged them to make their own dance

videos and coached them through the process using Turtle Art (See

[12]). They quickly grasped the concept behind the various media

blocks (they had previously been using an old version of Turtle Art

that did not yet have these features). Together we engaged in some

"hard fun."

My next stop was IIT Guwahati. I gave the keynote at Techniche [13],

the annual techno-management festival. Interestingly, as I was staying

at the university guest house, I had a chance to interact with much of

the staff, particularly in the kitchen (did I mention I love Indian

food?). They were really taken with the XO and we discussed how we

might get some for their children. As it turns out, the students at

the IIT run a school for the children of the workers, so perhaps it is

not out of the question.

I spent another 24 hours in Delhi. Harriet and I spent much of the day

with Satyaakam Goswami and his students at JNU and members of the

local FOSS community.  In addition to being very active in helping to

translate Sugar into Hindi, Satyaakam has been working in an urban

school in Nithari, using Raspberry PI [14]. I visited the school and

only have admiration for the teachers and students who seem to be

thriving despite very difficult circumstances.  As with the school for

the disabled, much of the emphasis in the school is for the children

to pass their exams, so in discussion with the teachers, we talked

about trying to establish some extra-curricular activities for the

children using Sugar.

India opened my eyes both to the possibilities and the challenges of

Sugar and OLPC. Many thanks to Harriet for her support. And to the

numerous volunteers I met who are trying to give the opportunity of

learning to so many children.

2. In response to feedback from FZT [15], I released a new version of

the Nutrition activity [16]. Also, in the spirit of eating my own dog

food, as usual I gave my talks in India using Turtle Art. In the

process, I uncovered some corner cases in some of the new features I

had introduced in Version 154. Version 156 has some bug fixes [17].

3. I just got the galley back from the publisher of a book I am

writing (with Chuck Kane) about OLPC [18]. I hope to do justice to the


=== In the community ===

4. There are plans to hold the next OLPC SF summit [11] in San

Francisco the weekend of October 19-21. We are looking into organizing

a Sugar Camp ''following'' the summit.

=== Tech Talk ===


* The last of Hippo is removed from the shell!!

* Work on 13.1 is under way.

=== Sugar Labs ===

Visit our planet [19] for more updates about Sugar and Sugar deployments.



[1] http://expeyes.in

[2] http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Activities/Turtle_Art/Plugins#Expeyes

[3] http://www.nirmala-institute.com/

[4] http://translate.sugarlabs.org/gom/

[5] http://translate.sugarlabs.org/gom@latin/

[6] http://www.unigoa.ac.in/department.php?adepid=10&mdepid=3

[7] http://www.gim.ac.in

[8] http://lab.gnowledge.org/

[9] http://wiki.laptop.org/go/OLPC_India/DBF/Khairat_Chronicle

[10] http://metastudio.org

[11] http://olpcsf.org/

[12] http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/images/7/71/Dancedance.png

[13] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Techniche

[14] http://vinaychaddha.blogspot.in/2012/08/presentation-at-electronics-rocks-2012.html

[15] http://www.fundacionzt.org/

[16] http://activities.sugarlabs.org/en-US/sugar/addon/4555

[17] http://activities.sugarlabs.org/en-US/sugar/addon/4027

[18] http://www.amazon.com/Learning-Change-World-Social-Impact/dp/0230337317

[19] http://planet.sugarlabs.org


Walter Bender

Sugar Labs



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