[Sugar-devel] Sugar Digest 2015-02-12

Walter Bender walter.bender at gmail.com
Fri Feb 13 09:14:49 EST 2015

== Sugar Digest ==

1. A few weeks ago there was a guest op-ed piece, "Can students have
too much tech?", in the NY Times arguing among other things that
Internet access was undermining programs like One Laptop per Child. I
found it surprising that Susan Pinker would cite One Laptop per Child
as the principle example of the children using computers to chat and
play games on the Internet (which she soundly criticised), since
almost none of the children who received laptop computers through OLPC
programs have ready access to the Internet (at school or at home). The
exception of course being Uruguay, where every child has both a laptop
and Internet access. Indeed, as a 2010 survey showed, the children in
Uruguay play games – they are children after all – but they also use
email, search for information, chat (also known as reading and
writing), make music, artwork, and videos, program, and, in general,
use the computer as a tool for problem solving. Contrary to the
assertion that the program is “drive-by” education, a continuing
effort is put into teacher training, community support, and outreach.

That said, some people associated with OLPC, including my former
colleague Mr. Negroponte, are outspoken advocates for solutions that
mitigate the need for teachers in elementary education. The X Prize
for Education is designed around that approach and further requires
that any proposed solutions be Android-tablet based. Not to say that
it may be possible to engineer such a solution, to constrain the
contest to an unproven pedagogical framework seems ill-advised. (Many
tablet-based solutions have begun to distribute physical keyboards in
acknowledgment that no one serious about writing or programming works
exclusively with an on-screen keyboard. And while it is theoretically
possible to exercise Software Freedoms on an Android tablet, in
practice it is still well beyond most of us.) Meanwhile, here at Sugar
Labs, we encourage open collaboration among students, teachers, and
our community.

2. Martin Abente, our Sugar Release Manager, is pleased to announce
the release of Sugar (sucrose) 0.104.0. This release includes new
features and a multitude of bug fixes from Google Code-In and Summer
of Code students, deployments and community members.

We are compiling detailed release notes at [1].

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this release and special thanks
to Martin for shepherding the process.

3. Sugar Labs is applying to Google Summer of Code (GSoC) 2015. The
application to Google has been submitted and we are in the process of
building the associated wiki pages [2]. We often use GSoC as a way of
exploring new ideas and future directions; for example, last summer we
had projects on extending Turtle Blocks into three-dimensions and
porting Sugar to Python 3, among others. This year we are going to
take a more focused approach, concentrating on fleshing out and making
more robust the Javascript support within Sugar. Sample projects will
be added to the wiki over the next few days. We can always use more
project ideas (please add them to the wiki) and more mentors (if you
are interested, please contact me over the next few weeks).

=== In the community ===

4. Tony Anderson reports that he has finally has most of the Project
Bernie website [3] completed. This website shows what content is
available on the School Server. (The School Server is a repository of
content and services for Sugar deployments.) Tony reports that there
are about 200 Sugar activities available to be installed from the
school server; digital textbooks from Siyavula, and courses on Python,
Web technology, and the Command Line Interpreter (Terminal activity).

=== Tech Talk ===

5. Peter Robinson, who has been coordinating the Sugar on a Stick
releases (most recently for Fedora 21 [4, 5]) is looking for help
coordinating testing and general community communications and
facilitation. Peter is a great mentor, so it would be a nice
opportunity for someone(s) to both contribute to the project and to
learn more about packaging. Please contact Peter (pbrobinson AT gmail
DOT com) if you are interested.

=== Sugar Labs ===

6. Please visit our planet [6].


[1] http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/0.104/Notes
[2] http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Summer_of_Code/2015
[3] http://www.projectbernie.org
[4] http://download-ib01.fedoraproject.org/pub/fedora/linux/releases/21/Live/x86_64/Fedora-Live-SoaS-x86_64-21-5.iso
[5] http://download-ib01.fedoraproject.org/pub/fedora/linux/releases/21/Live/i386/Fedora-Live-SoaS-i686-21-5.iso
[6] http://planet.sugarlab.org

Walter Bender
Sugar Labs

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