[IAEP] Sugar Digest 2015-12-17

Walter Bender walter.bender at gmail.com
Thu Dec 17 11:49:43 EST 2015

== Sugar Digest ==

1. Will Rico pointed me at a solicitation from Information Week for the
"Hottest trends for education IT leaders in 2016 and beyond". I could not
resist firing off a rant about Free/Libre Software.

In a word (actually two words), Free Software. Aside from the obvious
economic benefits -- no usurious licensing fees from the likes of Apple,
Pearson, Adobe, etc. -- Free Software is a vehicle for changing the culture
of learning by directly empowering local communities, teachers, and

Forty years of observation suggests that engaging children in using
computers and in programming software to run on computers is a powerful
means to drive learning. The process of writing and then repairing (also
known as “debugging”) a program, which Solomon described as “the great
educational opportunity of the 21st Century”, provides a basis for active
learning through heuristic problem solving. Free Software enables and
encourages students and teachers to engage in real science and engineering
and to take responsibility for the tools and practice in their classrooms.

It goes beyond programming, however, because it sends a message to the
learner (yes, teachers are learners too) that they do not have to accept
the world as it is handed down to them. Rather they can e the instruments
of change in all aspects of their lives.

Of course, this is not the message that your audience of IT leaders wants
to hear because it directly undermines their ability to lock in school
districts and since with Free Software the end user has the ability to
dictate change, the highly profitable practice of planned obsolescence is
not viable.

Nonetheless, Free Software in education is on the "long arc" of education
reform that will foster a generation of problem solvers and critical



PS: The recent sea change in Washington regarding arts education is further
evidence that we are once again respecting open-ended problem solving in
our schools. Young minds unleashed.

2. Google Code-in [1] has begun. After the first 10 days of competition,
137 tasks have been completed by 61 youths, ranging from a video
introduction of Sugar to three seven-year-olds to numerous updates to Sugar
activities to a flurry of suggestions for improvement to our website. We
have more than 250 open tasks but we welcome more task suggestions. Tip of
the hat to our 24 mentors, whom have been very patient answering questions
on IRC and reviewing student work.

3. We have eight candidates [2] for the seven open Sugar Labs oversight
board seats. I am not sure how the election committee plans to proceed --
stay tuned. Also, it has been brought to my attention that some of you
never received the membership renewal survey. Please contact the membership
committee for details (membership AT sugarlabs DOT org).

=== In the Community ===

4. Thane Richard from Outernet [3] contacted me a while back out his
project, Lighthouse, a free library from space. Seems like a nice match for
Sugar Labs and any number of the OLPC deployments.

5. Carol Smith, who has been running Google Summer of Code fo rthe past six
years will be moving on to other responsibilities within Google. Carol has
been a great supporter of Free/Libre Software and Sugar Labs and will be
missed. The good news is that Stephanie Taylor, with who has been running
Google Code-in will be taking her place. To both of you, best wishes in
your new positions.

=== Sugar Labs ===

6. Please visit our planet [4].


[1] https://developers.google.com/open-source/gci
[2] http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Oversight_Board/2015-2016-candidates
[3] https://outernet.is
[4] http://planet.sugarlabs.org

Walter Bender
Sugar Labs
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