[Sugar-devel] [IAEP] 2017 Goals for Sugar Labs
laura at somosazucar.org
Mon Apr 10 09:15:22 EDT 2017
2017-04-09 19:03 GMT-05:00 Walter Bender <walter.bender at gmail.com>:
> 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.
Thanks for doing this Walter,
After a quick read, I have to confess I feel sad and excluded because none
of the projects I have worked on  is mentioned on your view of Sugar's
Regards and blessings,
>> 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
> Walter Bender
> Sugar Labs
> IAEP -- It's An Education Project (not a laptop project!)
> IAEP at lists.sugarlabs.org
* I&D SomosAZUCAR.Org*
“No paradox, no progress.”
~ Niels Bohr
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