[Sugar-devel] [IAEP] 2017 Goals for Sugar Labs
walter.bender at gmail.com
Sun Apr 9 20:03:49 EDT 2017
On Sun, Apr 9, 2017 at 7:56 PM, Dave Crossland <dave at lab6.com> wrote:
> Thanks Walter. I'd like to better understand some additional context
> before diving in :)
> Does this mean Sameer you have stopped the project planning process you
> started, and we should not expect you to restart it again?
At the most recent SLOB meeting Samson brought up the fact that we were
still waiting and so I volunteered to write something up to get the
conversation going again.
> Walter, are these the goals for this year, or are they your proposal for
> the goals for this year?
Not sure I understand what you are asking. I wrote up a draft of goals but
they are not "the goals" until we agree to them.
> On Apr 9, 2017 3:31 PM, "Walter Bender" <walter.bender at gmail.com> wrote:
>> As per the discussion in the last Suagr Labs Oversight Board Meeting, I
>> had agreed to write a draft statement of goals for 2017. The document below
>> includes feedback from Samson G. I hope this document can serve to
>> revitalize our discussion from 2016 that never reached resolution.
>> Sugar Labs Plans, Goals, Aspirations
>> What is Sugar Labs?
>> Sugar Labs creates, distributes, and maintains learning software for
>> children. Our approach to learning is grounded in Constructionism, a
>> pedagogy developed by Seymour Papert and his colleagues in the 1960s and
>> 70s at MIT. Papert pioneered the use of the computer by children to help
>> engage them in the “construction of knowledge.” His long-time colleague
>> Cynthia Solomon expanded up his ideas by introducing the concept of
>> engaging children in debugging as a pathway into problem-solving. Their
>> 1971 paper, “Twenty things to do with a computer”, is arguably the genesis
>> of contemporary movements such as the Maker Movement and Hour of Code.
>> At the core of Constructionism is “learning through doing.” If you want
>> more learning, you want more doing. At Sugar Labs we provide tools to
>> promote doing. (We focus almost exclusively on tools, not instructional
>> materials.) However, we go beyond “doing” by incorporating critical dialog
>> and reflection into the Sugar learning environment, through mechanisms for
>> collaboration, journaling, and portfolio.
>> Sugar Labs is a spinoff of the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project and
>> consequently it has inherited many of its goals from that project. The goal
>> of OLPC is to bring the ideas of Constructionism to scale in order to reach
>> more children. A particular focus is on children in the developing world.
>> In order to meet that goal, Sugar, which was originally developed for OLPC,
>> was by necessity a small-footprint solution that required few resources in
>> terms of CPU, memory, storage, or network connectivity. The major change on
>> focus from the OLPC project is that Sugar Labs strives to make the Sugar
>> desktop available to multiple platforms, not just the OLPC XO hardware.
>> Who develops Sugar?
>> Sugar Labs is a 100% volunteer effort (although we do occasionally raise
>> money for paid student internships). Sugar development and maintenance is
>> incumbent upon volunteers and hence we strive to provide as much control as
>> possible to our community members, including our end-users. (In fact, one
>> of our assertions is that by enabling our users to participate in the
>> development of the tools that they use will lead to deeper engagement in
>> their own learning.) Towards these ends, we chose the GPL as our primary
>> license. It has been said of the GPL that it “restricts my right [as a
>> developer] to restrict yours [as a user and potential developer]”, which
>> seems ideal for a project that wants to engage a broad and diverse set of
>> learners. But at Sugar Labs we go beyond the usual goals of FOSS: a license
>> to make changes to the code is not enough to ensure that users make
>> changes. We also strive to provide the means to make changes. Our success
>> in this goal is best reflected in the number of patches we receive from our
>> community. (We achieve this goal through providing access to source code
>> and development tools within Sugar itself. We also actively participate in
>> workshops and internship programs such as Google Summer of Code,
>> Outreaching, and Google Code-In.)
>> Who uses Sugar?
>> Ultimately, our goal is to reach learners (and educators) with powerful
>> tools and engage them in Constructionist learning. Currently we reach them
>> in many ways: the majority of our users get the Sugar desktop preinstalled
>> on OLPC XO hardware. We have a more modest set of users who get Sugar
>> packaged in Fedora, Trisquel, Debian, Ubuntu, or other GNU/Linux platforms.
>> Some users get Sugar on Live Media (i.e., Sugar on a Stick). Recently
>> Sugarizer, a repackaging of some of the core Sugar ideas for the browser,
>> has been finding its way to some users. There are also a number of Sugar
>> activities that are popular outside of the context Sugar itself, for
>> example, Turtle Blocks, which has wide-spread use in India. Harder to
>> measure is the extent to which Sugar has influenced other providers of
>> “educational” software. If the Sugar pedagogy is incorporated by others,
>> that advances our goal.
>> Who supports Sugar?
>> When we first created Sugar Labs, we envisioned “Local Labs”—hence the
>> name “Sugar Labs”, plural—that would provide local support in terms of
>> local-language support, training, curriculum development, and
>> customizations. This model has not ever gained the scale and depth
>> envisioned (we can debate the reasons why), although there are still some
>> active local communities (e.g., Educa Paraguay) that continue to work
>> closely with the broader community. There are also individual volunteers,
>> such as Tony Anderson and T.K. Kang, who help support individual schools in
>> Rwanda, Malaysia, et al. An open question is how do we support our users
>> over the long term?
>> What is next for Sugar?
>> We face several challenges at Sugar Labs. With the ebb of OLPC, we have a
>> contracting user base and the number of professional developers associated
>> with the project is greatly diminished. How can we expand our user base?
>> How can we attract more experienced developers? Why would they want to work
>> on Sugar as opposed to some other project? The meta issue is how do we keep
>> Sugar relevant in a world of Apps and small, hand-held devices? Can we meet
>> the expectations of learners living in a world of fast-paced, colorful
>> interfaces? How do we ensure that it is fulfilling its potential as a
>> learning environment and that our users, potential users, and imitators are
>> learning about and learning from Sugar. Some of this is a matter of
>> marketing; some of this is a matter of staying focused on our core
>> pedagogy; some of this a matter of finding strategic partners with whom we
>> can work.
>> We have several near-term opportunities that we should leverage:
>> * Raspian: The Raspberry PI 3.0 is more than adequate to run Sugar—the
>> experience rivals or exceeds that of the OLPC XO 4.0 hardware. While RPi is
>> not the only platform we should be targeting, it does has broad penetration
>> into the Maker community, which shares a synergy with our emphasis on
>> “doing”. It is low-hanging fruit. With a little polish we could have an
>> image available for download from the RPi website.
>> * Trisquel: We have the potential for better leveraging the Free Software
>> Foundation as a vehicle for promoting Sugar. Their distro of choice is
>> Trisquel and the maintainer does a great job of keep the Sugar packages up
>> to date.
>> * Sugarizer: The advantage of Sugarizer is that it has the potential of
>> reaching orders of magnitude more users since it is web-based and runs in
>> Android and iOS. There is some work to be done to make the experience
>> palatable on small screens and the current development environment is—at
>> least my opinion—not scalable or maintainable. The former is a formidable
>> problem. The latter quite easy to address.
>> * Stand-alone projects such as Music Blocks have merit as long as they
>> maintain both a degree of connection with Sugar and promote the values of
>> the community. It is not certain that these projects will lead users
>> towards Sugar, but they do promote FOSS and Constructionist principles. And
>> they have attracted new developers to the Sugar community.
>> * School-server: The combination of the School Server and Sugar desktop
>> is a technical solution to problems facing small and remote communities. We
>> should continue to support and promote this combination.
>> Specific actions: After last year’s Libre Planet conference, several
>> community members discussed a marketing strategy for Sugar. We thought that
>> if we could reach influencers, we might be able to greatly amplify our
>> efforts. There are several prominent bloggers and pundits in the education
>> arena who are widely read and who might be receptive to what we are doing.
>> One significant challenge is that GNU/Linux remains on the far periphery of
>> the Ed Tech world. Although the “love affair” with all things Apple seems
>> to be over, the new elephant in the room—Chromebooks and Google Docs—is
>> equally difficult to co-exist with. Personally, I see the most potential
>> synergy with the Maker movement, which is building up momentum in
>> extra-curricular programs, where FOSS and GNU-Linux are welcome (hence my
>> earlier focus on RPi). (There are even some schools that are building their
>> entire curriculum around PBL.) We can and should develop and run some
>> workshops that can introduce Sugar within the context of the Maker
>> movement. (Toward that end, I have been working with some teachers on how
>> to leverage, for example, Turtle Blocks for 3D printing.) It is very much a
>> tool-oriented community with little overall discussion of architectural
>> frameworks, so we have some work to do. But there is lots of low-hanging
>> fruit there.
>> Walter Bender
>> Sugar Labs
>> IAEP -- It's An Education Project (not a laptop project!)
>> IAEP at lists.sugarlabs.org
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