[Sugar-devel] Sugar Digest 2009-10-25
walter.bender at gmail.com
Sun Oct 25 23:41:15 EDT 2009
=== Sugar Digest ===
1. Tales from Peru. I spend a three exhilarating days in Peru this
week. As is the case with most flights from the States, I arrived in
Lima close to midnight on Wednesday. But I managed to get to the
ministry of education for an early morning meeting with Victor
Castillo, the pedagogical lead with the Peru one-laptop-per-child
program. Peru has deployed hundreds of thousands of machines in some
of the most remote regions in the country. Victor gave me an update
about the program and briefed me on the IADB-sponsored evaluation.
When I asked him what more the development community could do, he
response was that he wanted less—fewer activities—because every time
we add more, there is a need for more training, which is difficult
given the remoteness of the schools. What Victor then explained was
that he wanted a solid base of around ten activities from which the
teachers and children would grow—"low floor no ceiling". Being able to
"hide" additional activities behind the circle in the list view is
feature that he looks forward to when they upgrade their machines. The
cleanliness and simplicity of the 0.86 toolbar was appreciated, as
well as the ubiquitous presence of the Stop Button. But we do need to
be vigilant not to overload Sugar with extraneous features. Less
really is more.
I also talked with Oscar Becerra, who is leading the project in Peru.
He voiced a concern about not introducing change for change sake, but
nonetheless we agreed that Sugar 0.86 would be a positive step
forward—one that perhaps could be made in conjunction with the
introduction of the OLPC XO-1.5 machines. We also discussed using
Sugar on a Stick as a way to reach more children sooner, as given
budget constraints, it will take many years to reach the point where
every child can be given a laptop.
Thursday evening, I attened a meeting for Sugar community volunteers
organized by Sebastian Silva [www.fuentelibre.org FuenteLibre] and
Kiko Mayorga [escuelab.org Escuelab] at Escuelab's facility in Lima's
Centro Historico. The Escuelab is in a beautiful space—labs on one
floor, residence on another. I walked in to the sight of a roomful of
machines running Sugar on Trisquel. The young son of one of the
attendees was exploring Sugar for the first time. When he got to the
Physics activity, I was transfixed. He was playing the activity like a
musical instrument, a fluid dance of objects bouncing around the
screen in unexpected configurations. Amazing.
The meeting itself also had its surprises. More than forty people of
diverse crowded into
the room; an animated discussion ensued (en español). There is passion
and talent in the Sugar community in Peru and they are getting
organized. Stay tuned.
The next morning I went to visit a school in Chaclayo
.. As always, it is thrilling to see children using Sugar, even though
in this case, it was Sugar from two-years ago. They were using Write,
Record, Chess, and Paint. I gave a Turtle Art lesson, which was a
treat for me. The one negative were the touchpads. They were jumping
all over the place, which, in this old version of Sugar, caused the
Frame to appear sporadically. It was really disruptive. More resent
versions of Sugar don't have this problem. We need to get an upgrade
to these kids.
I spent Saturday at the University of San Martin de Porres, host to
the [http://fosd.libreusmp.org Fourth Freedom & Open Source Day]. I
used the theme "turtles all the way down" in my talk, arguing both the
need for freedom for education and education for freedom. I started my
talk with a puzzle: 0, 1, 2, 720!. What comes next? For some people,
this puzzle is pretty easy because they immediately make the
connection between 720 and 6!. And since 6 is 3!, a quick series of
substitutions lead you to: 0, 1!, 2!!, 3!!!, 4!!!!, … Why did I bring
this up? I wanted to make a point about low-shelf vs high-shelf tools.
We all have tools on our low shelf, easy to access. If 6!=720 is on
your low shelf, this was an easy puzzle. If it is on your high shelf,
you had to reach for the solution. If it wasn't on either shelf, you
had to work even harder, or perhaps you gave up entirely. I went on to
argue that computation should be on every child's low shelf.
I spent the rest of the day at working with the student group,
. We did a 30-minute code sprint and wrote the stub of an activity.
(Actually, it took 45 minutes, because I was using vi.) I installed
emacs and then we really started making headway, enough to consider
setting up our project in git. We installed git and then it was time
to create a new project on Gitorious. When we went to push, we
discovered that there was a firewall. So we installed tor, but there
was a missing dependency, connect, for which we could only find the
source, not a binary. We installed gcc, compiled it, and we able to
push [http://git.sugarlabs.org/projects/cixos our project]. It was
actually nice to encounter so many roadblocks, but persist and avail.
2. There was an Oversight Board meeting
at the same time as I was visiting the school. Our next meeting will
be this Friday (30 Oct) on #sugar-meeting at 14:00 UTC.
3. Josh Williams
has been making updates to activities.sugarlabs.org. You can check
out his work at
. Speaking of ASLO, 200,000 more activities in the two weeks since we
hit the one-million-download milestone.
4. Gary Martin has generated a SOM from the past week of discussion on
the IAEP mailing list (Please see
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