[IAEP] Sugar Digest 2013-04-16

Walter Bender walter.bender at gmail.com
Tue Apr 16 22:12:07 EDT 2013

== Sugar Digest ==

1. I have been on the road the past two weeks and consequently a bit behind
in my communication. I don't recall if I announced beyond the sugar-devel
list that Sugar Labs was selected to participate in Google Summer of Code.
We have a great collection of project ideas and students are starting to
engage in discussions. Please, if you are interested in being a mentor,
sign up at [1].

2. One of my trips was to Sydney, Australia, where I spent a few days with
the team from OLPC AU. I really appreciate their approach: a tight coupling
of educators, technology, documentation, marketing and business. They are
in the process of expanding their program with a systematic, sustainable
approach. A seriously good website [2, 3] is part of their strategy for
supporting teachers. More on that theme in the coming weeks.

3. My other trip was to Finland, where I gave the keynote at the Finnish
Interactive Technology for Education (ITK) conference [4]. Jarmo Viteli was
my host. There is the potential of intimidation, going to Finland, with its
reputation for great schools, to talk about learning. But I found a
receptive audience, appreciative of the fact that technology means more
than fun and games. I began my talk with a reference to the former CEO of
Nokia, who once described his role in his company not as a conductor in
front of an orchestra, but as a member of a Jazz ensemble. I suggested that
teachers are not conductors either. There was a real appreciation of the
Sugar platform approach to reflection and collaboration. Also the FOSS
culture in Finland seems alive and well -- the idea of children and
teachers taking responsibility for their tools resonated with the audience.
That responsibility and risk-taking are two complementary goals for
learners. My talk should be posted on line soon.

4. Right before I left for my two weeks of airplanes and hotel rooms, there
was an interview with Alan Kay ''Time Magazine'' [5]. A favorite quote he
dusted off in the interview was “the music is not in the piano”. Nor is the
music in the teacher. For a number of different reasons, Alan's interview
is timely. As we see the proliferation of low-cost Android tablets into
schools, it is important to ask if we giving children toys or tools; and
are we letting them play music or make music?

Another quote from Alan in the interview is: “people love change except for
the change part.” Case in point, there has been grumbling on the sur list
that Sugar keeps changing and as a consequence things break. While
undoubted there is are still plenty of bugs in Sugar (and even more in the
older versions of the software deployed in, for example, Uruguay), the
grass is not greener in the commercial software world. One need not look
farther than the evolution of Android or iOS over the past 4 years to see
vast amounts of change. As the Greek philosopher Heraclides said
approximately 2300 years ago, "Change is the only constant." Get used to it.

I end with another quote from Alan: "Modern science was only invented 400
years ago, and it is a good example of what social thinking can do with a
high threshold. Science requires a society because even people who are
trying to be good thinkers love their own thoughts and theories — much of
the debugging has to be done by others. But the whole system has to rise
above our genetic approaches to being social to much more principled
methods in order to make social thinking work."

=== In the community ===

5. Michael Perscheid from the University of Potsdam has been using Etoys as
a game development platform with his students. Check out their work at [6].

=== Tech Talk ===

6. The "github" experiment has been going well. David Narvaez has been
leading a team of reviewers through the reasonably efficient process of
using pull requests [7] and we have been able to clear up at least some of
the backlog of features. But we still need more reviewers!

The basics for submitting a patch for review are:
# Fork the repo on the web UI
# Clone your fork
# Push the patches to your fork
# Make a pull request from the web UI

7. David has also been leading a discussion of how to move forward on both
the integration of Javascript and HTML5 into Sugar and the migration of
Sugar onto a more web-centric platform, e.g. chrome. Follow along on the
devel list [8] (numerous threads).

=== Sugar Labs ===

Visit our planet [9] for more updates about Sugar and Sugar deployments.


Walter Bender
Sugar Labs

[1] http://www.google-melange.com/gsoc/homepage/google/gsoc2013
[2] http://www.laptop.org.au/
[3] http://www.one-education.org/
[4] http://www.itk.fi/2013/info/english
[6] http://www.hpi.uni-potsdam.de/hirschfeld/projects/olpc/index.html
[7] http://help.github.com/articles/using-pull-requests
[8] http://lists.sugarlabs.org/archive/sugar-devel/
[9] http://planet.sugarlabs.org
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