[Sugar-devel] L-earning

Charles Cossé ccosse at gmail.com
Tue Jun 13 01:16:25 EDT 2017

On Mon, Jun 12, 2017 at 7:45 PM, James Cameron <quozl at laptop.org> wrote:

> On Mon, Jun 12, 2017 at 07:08:46PM -0600, Charles Cossé wrote:
> > Hi Walter, James, All,
> Thanks for the explanation links, I've had a better look now.
> > On Mon, Jun 12, 2017 at 3:21 PM, James Cameron <[1]quozl at laptop.org>
> > wrote:
> >
> >     Several reparsing attempts later and I think this is a plan for
> >     monetisation of learners?  But not really sure;
> >
> > It is a plan to stimulate development of free education software and
> > provide a valuable tool for parents, at the same time.  You've got
> > Sugarizer, for example -- everything is freely available.  Now
> > imagine an additional lightweight service which allowed parents to
> > configure activities (and rewards), to queue-them-up for their kids,
> > and which talked to their router at home for the purpose of
> > performing a credit transfer.
> So the credit-transfer is in a different currency and market to the
> service charge.  Makes more sense now, I was conflating them before.

Right, credits are just an integer in a database.  I've always used 1
credit = 1 second, 1800/hhr.

> Not a monetisation of learners, but a monetisation of parents.
> > For that special service you charge $10/month, and let the
> > parent-subscriber distribute that amount among activity developers
> > of their choice, thereby stimulating free education software
> > development and possibly ongoing user-developer feedback cycles.  It
> > also has potential for education research.
> So to paraphrase, provide a paid service using open source software
> that blocks internet access for children until they have used open
> source applications that the parents deem worthy of use, and the
> duration of use will determine the time the internet service is
> unblocked.

Subtle but important qualification here: It's not duration of use which
determines getting the reward.  Rather, it's completion of goal, and kids
learn quickly that they get online faster if they make an effort, in effect
minimizing the time spent on the activity while maximizing their own
effectiveness in the name of expediency.

> Kind of like "you can't go out to play until you've done your
> homework".  Intrafamilial trading of access rights.

Right, and there's an interface for parent to add credits manually, say in
exchange for doing the dishes or breaking rocks :)

> And the point of control is a WiFi access point.
> Nothing about how to handle uncontrolled WiFi access points?

No, it hasn't really been a problem in my experience.  Things like data
plans I consider parental issues.

> >     unclear separation between motivation,
> >     actions and outcome.  All blended.
> >
> > Motivation: I've discovered that using internet access as a currency
> > results in effective learning.  Furthermore, using a self-serve
> > kiosk-type system takes you, the parent, out of the picture and kids
> > develop a bird-birdfeeder relationship with the system, returning to
> > earn more credits when they need to.  As an education software
> > developer, this means that kids are getting more out of my software
> > because they are focused on completing the objective.   Indeed, in
> > this scheme learning is just a side-effect to the kids' objective of
> > earning online time, but learning occurs just the same.  That's
> > actually a potential research area right there. My motivation is
> > that I believe this creates opportunities to advance free education
> > software by not only compensating developers, but by providing a
> > type of physical "glue" (i.e. the Raspberry-Pi credit meter /
> > router) between the user and developer communities -- something to
> > come together around.  I put this project on ice a couple years ago
> > when I was working abroad.  I still think that it's a good idea and
> > thus find myself working on it again.  I had a poster slot at PyCon
> > in which I officially began to reach out to people again, and there
> > was a lot of interest.  I needed more credit-earning activities for
> > the PyCon demo so I wrapped a bunch from Sugarizer in iframes and it
> > made the demo look much better.  I collected almost 100 emails of
> > interested people.  My goal is to stimulate creation of more
> > software, and all of it would work with Sugarizer, and vice versa.
> I see.
> This will benefit inattentive or time-poor parents who would rather
> use hardware and software to control their children's social
> behaviours.

Actually, I developed it not because I'm time-poor and inattentive, but
because it's difficult to teach your own kids, firstly, and then nobody can
micro-manage everyone's online time, but a simple credit-meter system can.
This takes the drama out of supplementing your childrens' educations.  It
enables a parent to spend quality time enjoying their children's company
instead of all the tension and rebeliousness which can arise when a parent
tries to teach their kids.

> Attentive or time-rich parents will be sufficiently involved in their
> children that they can exert control socially, and won't need paid
> service.

So I predict that the opposite will be true.  This is a tool for involved

> > Action:  I believe that this experiment and Sugar-Labs could benefit
> > each other tremendously.  Thus might as well start by offering it
> > for adoption.
> I'm not a member of Sugar Labs, though I am very involved as a
> developer.

And what incentives exist for developers of free education software?
I can think of altruism and showcasing one's abilities.  At least having
an incentive to develop free education software should not hurt anyone's
ongoing efforts to stimulate new development.

> You don't need any permission to do what you plan; the GPLv3 and
> Apache 2.0 licenses of Sugar and Sugarizer respectively permit that
> usage; to create a derivative which counts elapsed time of use and
> reports to a central site.  We already have elapsed time of use code
> in Sugar.

Indeed, but I see opportunities and benefits to Sugar-labs, and probably
greater benefits to the project as the results of a hypothetical adoption.

> But can you be more specific about what the costs are to Sugar Labs?
> My guess is;
> - distraction of an already small base of volunteers,

I would propose to try to do it without any such disruptions.

> - additional non-core usage scenarios making code and documentation
>   complex,

Well a prototype exists and the documentation was not complex :)

> - monetary conflicts of interest for developers who might otherwise be
>   more involved.

I don't understand "might otherwise be more involved".  Involved with other
Sugar-labs stuff?  Like the lure of money stealing-away the people who
take care of Sugar-labs?

> > Outcome: An engine for free education software fueled by involved
> > parents
> Parents won't perceive this as a free education software thing if they
> have to pay for it, so I don't see any point in your promoting to them
> the concept of free education software or the license of the software.

Well, we are all sworn advocates of free education software, and for that
I think we are obliged to preach its virtues.  The "free" in Free Software
not "free" as in $0, that's easily explained.   What they'd be paying for
directly to improve the software which they are using to educate their

> Rather, it seems you have two different groups to market to; parents,
> and developers.  Marketing with the same message to both is confusing.

Indeed there are two distinct groups.  The system evolved with me because
I'm a member of both groups.  I'm talking to different parent groups to find
early adopters as well as create a "demand" for more activities.   I'm also
looking at new hardware alternatives despite the fact that I love the RPi3.

The first time I heard my kids begging me for more math it was music to my
ears.  The second time I implemented a "repeatable" flag so they didn't
have to keep asking my permission.  Another nice thing about the system
was coming home after work and both kids were always full of interesting
things to talk about, i.e. the interesting things which I'd pasted-together
a proto-activity called the ArticleReader, for them to read.

Kahn Academy is wonderful, and so many other resources.  But while you
can lead a child to quality educational resources, you can't make them care.
That's the unique capability that could belong to Sugar-labs, in one

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