gholtslander
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Dec 26, 2011 7:14 pm

Re: RasPi as a basic school desktop replacement

Mon Dec 26, 2011 7:42 pm

TrevorB said:


Hi All,

Thought the HDMI socket on the RPi was miniHDMI and I couldn't find a miniHDMI to DVI-D cable

I don't know what VDI is - could someone help me there?

I've been investigating open source in UK schools and haven't found a single school currently using it on the desktop! Perhaps there's a school leader out there using OSS who can put me right?



The Kamloops school division in Canada has been using  linux successfully for a number of years.

http://www3.sd73.bc.ca/content.....-education.

Contact them for more information.  They offered a great deal of assistance when a local group approached our local school board about linux (which unfortunately was unsuccessful)

It is a serious challenge to change the status quo.  Money talks though - the cost savings are substantial.

TrevorB
Posts: 6
Joined: Sat Dec 03, 2011 2:40 pm

Re: RasPi as a basic school desktop replacement

Thu Dec 29, 2011 2:35 pm

That's really interesting - thank you for the link.

User avatar
SteveDee
Posts: 343
Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2011 2:18 pm
Location: Sunny Southern England
Contact: Website

Re: RasPi as a basic school desktop replacement

Thu Dec 29, 2011 3:43 pm

Although we had been using HP ThinState clients on a Citrix system, we recently switched this off and now use Windows Remote Desktop running on 2 virtual servers running Server 2008.

In addition to the HP thin clients (now RDP), I have converted around 50 Compaq D510 desktops to run as thin clients using ThinStation. However, network & WiFi driver support is not good on ThinStation, so my most recent batch of old desktops & laptops are using Lubuntu with a simple app I wrote which presents the user with a "login or shut-down" screen, thereby keeping little fingers away from the Linux OS.

All of these thin clients are lightning fast when opening and running apps (e.g. Word, Excel) via RDP. Also, the Lubuntu systems boot to the login screen in 20 to 30 seconds (depending upon machine, BIOS & so on) while the ThinStation system take 60 seconds. Video playback can be a bit jerky, but we are working on this, and it does not appear to be the fault of the thin clients, but probably a network issue.

This approach has certainly given around 100 machines a new lease of life, saving valuable cash.

I'm now very interested in Raspberry Pi as a potential source of low cost, low power thin clients. From what I've read (and please correctly me if I am mistaken) we should be able to use this computer module with a Linux OS (like Debian) from just a few cheap parts:-
Raspberry Pi + ethernet        £22
Cheap ABS box            £5
5Volt, 1Amp power module    £5
HDMI to DVI cable        £5
2GB SD card             £5
Total, no more than: £42

I've separated the computer cost from the LCD digital monitor, keyboard & mouse because we would initially use this to replace failing desktops that are beyond economic repair. To replace these, we tend to buy second-hand HP dc7700 which are currently £150 - £200, so we could save over £100 in situations where a thin client is suitable.

I've no idea what the BIOS looks like on Raspberry Pi, but if it allows PXE booting, then the SD card may not be required. Not that small SD cards are expensive, but I did a project a few years ago for a Canadian food company where I used Compact Flash on single board OPC servers running 16hrs/day. Some CFs had to be replaced after 2 years.

One other point I think someone made on this thread was the "problem" of Linux support in schools. Thin clients (like the HP ThinState) often run Linux. All the ICT support team need to know is how to re-image an SD card. In most cases they don't need a deep understanding of Linux.

In principle it should be possible to use Raspberry Pi as a Linux desktop running apps like Libre Office, since the educational curriculum in the UK is not supposed to be software specific. But in practice, lessons are taught using MS Office. However, some of our students use Open/Libre Office at home and save in a MS Office format....they are the smart ones!

kme
Posts: 448
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2011 9:37 am

Re: RasPi as a basic school desktop replacement

Thu Dec 29, 2011 3:56 pm

@SteveDee: Just a quick PS on Thinstation: Check out the lastest ver. 2.5beta (almost at RC state). It has vast improvements on drivers. May save your current investments.

Sorry being off-topic.

Mike

(Thinstation co-dev)

User avatar
SteveDee
Posts: 343
Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2011 2:18 pm
Location: Sunny Southern England
Contact: Website

Re: RasPi as a basic school desktop replacement

Thu Dec 29, 2011 4:22 pm

@SteveDee: Just a quick PS on Thinstation: Check out the lastest ver. 2.5beta (almost at RC state). It has vast improvements on drivers. May save your current investments.

Sorry being off-topic.

I don't think it is off topic if ThinStation is a viable approach for Raspberry Pi (...is it?). Configuration via your development file & script structure is very straight forward, and I think it would be a potential solution for many schools like ours.

(however, I did try 2.5Beta and it doesn't solve my problem)

garyhbaker
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2011 1:14 pm

Re: RasPi as a basic school desktop replacement

Thu Dec 29, 2011 5:50 pm

So perhaps this thread might consider how it is going to be possible to just give the kids a $35 Raspberry Pi as a consumable.  It is their's to keep if they choose to buy it, or it is like a text book that they return at the end of the class.  These thinks are so cheap that just giving them to a kid to haunt their curiosity 24x7 might be enough to get them hooked on CS.  Amazing things could happen.  I think the idea of thin client is sort of bankrupt.  Thin client is all about control.  Just put an LXDE GUI on it and say here you go and here are your assignments.  This is going to be way cheaper than a scientific calculator.  Having something to take away from class (if it passed) and keep can be a powerful motivator.

But then again, what do I know.  I'm just a dumb Electronic Engineer who has pursued this computer and microcomputer revolution since 1968.  I currently manage a medium sized network of Windows based, Cisco connect, HP servers and workstations for Local Government.  But is not my first dance.  I have worked in the DOD, Federal, State, Local and Private layers for many years.  Computers are my passion, at home and at work.

Computer Science education is a mess, and I agree that the Pi can go along ways toward getting this resolved.  I believe that today's youth can be educated toward these dark arts if given the correct pushes, direction and opportunities.  Learning Word and Excel should not be the primary goal.  Microsoft lets no one see what really goes on behind the curtain.  Neither do thin clients!

And I will have my Pi and eat it, too.  I can't wait to get one.  One of my goals has always been to see how far this computer revolution will take us before I croak.  Here we go again.  Thanks for making the Raspberry Pi.

jamesh
Raspberry Pi Engineer & Forum Moderator
Raspberry Pi Engineer & Forum Moderator
Posts: 23873
Joined: Sat Jul 30, 2011 7:41 pm

Re: RasPi as a basic school desktop replacement

Thu Dec 29, 2011 7:29 pm

What amazes me, is that the Raspi is CHEAPER than the textbooks used to learn to program from.....
Principal Software Engineer at Raspberry Pi (Trading) Ltd.
Contrary to popular belief, humorous signatures are allowed. Here's an example...
“I think it’s wrong that only one company makes the game Monopoly.” – Steven Wright

User avatar
SteveDee
Posts: 343
Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2011 2:18 pm
Location: Sunny Southern England
Contact: Website

Re: RasPi as a basic school desktop replacement

Thu Dec 29, 2011 10:19 pm

...but then again, what do I know.  I'm just a dumb Electronic Engineer who has pursued this computer and microcomputer revolution since 1968....Computer Science education is a mess, and I agree that the Pi can go along ways toward getting this resolved.  I believe that today's youth can be educated toward these dark arts if given the correct pushes, direction and opportunities.  Learning Word and Excel should not be the primary goal.

I guess I am of a similar age, as I left school in 1968 to work in industry, where I spent most of the last 40 odd years playing with all sorts of exciting technology. I now find myself in the world of education, poking Windows servers & computers & interactive whiteboards, in a desperate attempt to keep them running.

Unfortunately, here in Britain, Computer Science is not taught in schools, except by a few heroic individuals that defy the national curriculum, or in "after-school" clubs. ICT is the subject that is included in the curriculum, and this generally only involves using MS Office, Dreamweaver & so on.

So I don't think that Raspberry Pi is going to make much difference to the majority of young people here until/unless our government steps in and forces a change to the curriculum.

All we can do (as foot soldiers) is to put some of these marvelous units to use in education and hope we can gain some interest from those able to run unofficial classes on programming (the most likely candidates at the moment are not ICT teachers, but Maths & Science teachers).

So for "thin client" read "Trojan Horse".

nichobb
Posts: 82
Joined: Sat Nov 19, 2011 10:34 am

Re: RasPi as a basic school desktop replacement

Sat Dec 31, 2011 2:19 am

Regarding OP issues, some stop gap methods could be;
With your aging PCs the virus checkers seem like a good bet at causing the slowness as others mentioned, look at microsoft security essentials as a quick fix. Install XP fresh with just Office and browser may help.
My friend swears by (not at) Umbuntu on his Samsung netbook vs XP, so that is also worth a go especially as basic office/internet is only required.

When you do upgrade don"t forget there is gold in them PCs (literally) for bulk numbers like that you may get a good price from a recycle firm.

[Quote]What amazes me, is that the Raspi is CHEAPER than the textbooks used to learn to program from.....
[/Quote]
That"s the foundations next product, learn to program book, comes with free computer! (book could be gutted to make a case too

User avatar
scep
Posts: 1062
Joined: Sun Nov 20, 2011 8:53 am

Re: RasPi as a basic school desktop replacement

Sat Dec 31, 2011 9:00 am

SteveDee said:


ICT is the subject that is included in the curriculum,


Not for long - it's likely to be taken off the National Curriculum in the forthcoming review. Roll on cross-curricular delivery


All we can do (as foot soldiers) is to put some of these marvelous units to use in education and hope we can gain some interest from those able to run unofficial classes on programming


Not so! Computing at School is actively campaigning to bring computing back into schools (and doing a pretty good job). Anyone can get involved. Network managers / technicians etc working in education are especially welcome as they are under- represented in the group AFAIK.

[disclaimer: I'm a member of CAS.]

1aws
Posts: 37
Joined: Fri Dec 30, 2011 8:43 pm

Re: RasPi as a basic school desktop replacement

Sat Dec 31, 2011 5:32 pm

Firstly, let me state that I will be purchasing a Raspberry Pi as soon as they are available.

This is my first post here so I would ask you to be understanding if I haven't fully appreciated the intentions of the RasPi team.



As a retired schoolteacher, I have to say that I tend to agree with SteveDee. The remarks made by scep frighten me. “Roll on cross-curricular delivery.” he said. My experience of this was woeful. The standard of computing ability amongst English. History, Geography, Modern Language teachers was poor, even after they had been sent on courses. Even Maths and Science struggled, mainly because they were overwhelmed by the preparation required for their own subject. In my experience Technical Studies was really the only other subject to appreciate the problems of teaching pupils to understand computers. None, ever used, far less taught design for their WP, Spreadsheet, Database examples. Their work tended to be cobbled together without any recourse to design, pagination, style,

content, readablity (comments / explanations for sections) etc. I tended to teach all of the GPPs in terms of objects and operations. An object might be a character, a word a sentence, a paragraph etc on which an operation like embolden, justify, in(out)dent, font, font sizing etc may be performed. Everything was pre-designed as operations on objects. The skill teachers omitted all of this understanding and demonstrated “skills”. The same happened in other subjects; in Maths I witnessed many hours of teachers teaching to the examination. Change side / change sign etc – It is not; it is applying the additive inverse to both sides of the equation. The latter involves understanding the former is just a rule that has to be remembered exactly and when to apply it.



I am sure that the people involved with “Computing at School” mean well. Their efforts I fear will be lost. Although Qualifying Agencies state that they do not promote any particular software; if you read between the lines, then that is just not true. Here is a statement for the new exam structure from 2013 as it applies to Computing in Scotland:

“It is expected that learners will develop broad, generic skills through this Unit. The skills that learners will be expected to improve on and develop through the Unit are based on SQA’s Skills Framework: Skills for Learning, Skills for Life and Skills for Work and drawn from the main skills areas listed below. These must be built into the Unit where there are appropriate opportunities.“



At first glance you spot “broad, generic skills “ and you are happy but then only a few words later you read “based on SQA’s Skills Framework: Skills for Learning, Skills for Life and Skills for Work” – Now, to me, that means only one thing, namely: Teachers that use software that is not normally found in the workplace (Skills for Work ) or at home (Skills for Life) should think carefully as their course is likely to fail ratification. Otherwords, use only Microsoft products where they exist for your purpose. Note the SQA are now promoting “SKILLS LEARNING” and not education.



So I tend to agree with SteveDee when he states: “Computer Science is not taught in schools, except by a few heroic individuals that defy the national curriculum, or in "after-school" clubs. ICT is the subject that is included in the curriculum, and this generally only involves using MS Office, Dreamweaver & so on.” I would like to think that I was one of those heroes, who taught for understanding and not skills. Alas, with a heavy heart, I tend also to agree when he says “So I don't think that Raspberry Pi is going to make much difference to the majority of young people here until/unless our government steps in ….”



Anyway a Happy New Year to all.





tufty
Posts: 1456
Joined: Sun Sep 11, 2011 2:32 pm

Re: RasPi as a basic school desktop replacement

Sat Dec 31, 2011 5:50 pm

scep said:


SteveDee said:


ICT is the subject that is included in the curriculum,


Not for long - it's likely to be taken off the National Curriculum in the forthcoming review. Roll on cross-curricular delivery


Despite the sterling work being carried out by CAS and the other people who actually care, I would be surprised if the cross-curricular delivery doesn't result in mudules like "Using Excel 2013 to tabulate historical events"...

Simon

User avatar
SteveDee
Posts: 343
Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2011 2:18 pm
Location: Sunny Southern England
Contact: Website

Re: RasPi as a basic school desktop replacement

Sat Dec 31, 2011 7:52 pm

I find it interesting that quite a few of us think there is a problem, but I wonder (probably doubt) that we share common ground on the solution.

As a minimum, young people need to leave school and move into a work environment or university, with the ability to use technology with confidence.

Unfortunately some kids are not that academic, so maybe the best we can hope for, in their case, is a basic ability to communicate (email, work processing), research (find information such as suppliers via internet), and maybe use other Office apps. I can see that for them, it might be a distraction to work with a variety of computing systems, operating systems and office packages. But in the work-place they may be confronted with unfamiliar business systems. So how do we prepare them for this?

The more able children would hopefully find time in their busy timetable to look at the basic building blocks of technology, the application of computers, and the process of analysing a requirement and turning it into a running program.

There are only so many hours in a school year. What subjects could be "pruned" in order to free up time for Computer Science?

Even if there is a change to the curriculum, the implementation cannot happen over-night. Do existing teachers have the necessary skills or knowledge or interest?

...anyway, only 4 hours left of 2011...so its time to party!...Happy New Year!

User avatar
scep
Posts: 1062
Joined: Sun Nov 20, 2011 8:53 am

Re: RasPi as a basic school desktop replacement

Sat Dec 31, 2011 7:55 pm

tufty said:


Despite the sterling work being carried out by CAS and the other people who actually care, I would be surprised if the cross-curricular delivery doesn"t result in mudules like "Using Excel 2013 to tabulate historical events"…


Hence the smiley! In my opinion, cross curricular ICT in the average state comp is not going to happen. Everywhere I've seen it tried it's been shockingly awful or non-existent. I'm not saying that it's impossible, but you"d need:

1) Full support from the leadership team, preferably with one of them specialising in this area (perhaps seconding one from "learning styles" or "student voice" or "dialogue of learning" or "brain gym" or  ... etc )

2) Financial support for training of subject teachers and ICT teachers in cross-curricular training.

3) Additional resources such as PCs, projectors etc throughout the school.

4) The non-ICT staff to get on board – to enthusiastically and actively use ICT in teaching their subject, to want to improve their own skills in ICT and computing.

So, erm – good luck with that outside of fee paying schools and selective grammars. (I still see non-ICT lessons where they think that they have used ICT because they have typed up and essay that they wrote by hand and stuck an image from the Web in. Go ICT!

[N.B. Cross curricular is by no means a given: 1) The review isn't final 2) Being in the Basic curriuculum does't make it compulsory per se. 3) Acadamies (i.e. 40% of schools) do not have to follow the National Curriculum. ]




User avatar
scep
Posts: 1062
Joined: Sun Nov 20, 2011 8:53 am

Re: RasPi as a basic school desktop replacement

Sat Dec 31, 2011 7:58 pm

1aws said:


 The remarks made by scep frighten me. “Roll on cross-curricular delivery.” he said.


IT WAS SARCASTIC! I USED A WINK SMILEY AND EVERYTHING!


I am sure that the people involved with “Computing at School” mean well. Their efforts I fear will be lost.


You are confusing CAS with a PTA group trying to arrange a jumble sale to fund a new sand pit . CAS informs the Government and has the ear of bodies like the Russell Group Universities. They have already brought about changes.

You make a lot of interesting points and whilst I am sure that you mean well, your comments I fear will be lost . Instead of replying to this post you might want to pop over to the CAS Google groups for a chat. Your experience and point of view would be welcome there and could help make a difference.

nichobb
Posts: 82
Joined: Sat Nov 19, 2011 10:34 am

Re: RasPi as a basic school desktop replacement

Sat Dec 31, 2011 10:27 pm

This is starting to go quite off topic. However, to continue the interesting tangent with an idea that Scep started (although I suspect they will be first to object). Note: I work in a FE college and all my immediate family work fully or partly in schools from primary to secondary. With that disclaimer nothing but a marginal view can follow.
Perhaps most state run schools are not the best primary target, by targeting the academies, selective and private sector there is perhaps more freedom for them to act outside of financial and curriculum constraints.

I know that this is neglecting the area of society that would benefit most (which is not good for society as a whole) but would it not be better to improve 40% of students IT skills than none? Hope for trickle across (ha) or partnerships (ha ha).

Well it"s an opinion anyway.

User avatar
scep
Posts: 1062
Joined: Sun Nov 20, 2011 8:53 am

Re: RasPi as a basic school desktop replacement

Sat Dec 31, 2011 11:43 pm

nichobb said:



Perhaps most state run schools are not the best primary target, by targeting the academies, selective and private sector there is perhaps more freedom for them to act outside of financial and curriculum constraints.


At the moment, state schools and academies are synonymous as most only converted a few months back. The only thing that has changed for most of them is the heading on  the staff pay slips. They are the same school logistically and philosophically. This may  change gradually, but at the moment there is not practical difference between the state schools (that were) and the academies (that are).  Certainly not something you could approach a Headteacher with and say - "you wanna buy into this because you couldn't last August?"

And of course, the existing ICT curriculum is very open flexible anyway - no one says that you have to teach three years of Excel and PowerPoint. It just happens. The word "database" is not mentioned in the ICT curriculum document, but that does not stop most schools doing databases for three years etc.

Prescription by curriculum is only a small part of the problem. Inertia and apathy and result chasing and poor training and lack of time and lack of money are more culpable. And lack of computing of course

pvgb
Posts: 51
Joined: Sat Oct 15, 2011 9:53 pm

Re: RasPi as a basic school desktop replacement

Sat Dec 31, 2011 11:58 pm

In my experience, central services departments ( Includes things like IT support departments ) are largely oriented to a position of providing the service they want to provide. As they have been hired for their expertise ("He is in the computer support department, he must know all about computing"), their arguments tend to be listened to - sometimes in the face of overwhelming evidence.

There have been and (hopefully) always will be those with an open mind who are willing to try new things and support those who wish to try new things, but, face it, that means working harder.

To be fair, picking up support for a radically different platform is going to be a real culture shock for many of them, and with all change there has to be an element of change management.

I guess that the kids at schools will take to the idea of Raspberry Pi in a very natural way - they are after all mostly used to the idea of small portable computers anyway. On the other hand, a lot of teachers/lecturers still have not got used to the idea of computers at all yet. Of those who have adapted to using computers, a proportion will have gained computing skills a quite a high cost in effort, and will be unwilling to re-learn.

Piecemeal replacement (as one beige box fails replace with an RPi,) will be problematic as  there will be two different platforms in a room. It is difficult enough with one platform.

My view is to try and get the RPi into the hands where it will do most good - into the hands of the kids to augment the possibilities they have - not replace one box with another. The logistics are going to be tricky.

@tufty - you may have coined a phrase with the word "mudules" - sums most of them up !

User avatar
riffraff
Posts: 307
Joined: Tue Sep 27, 2011 3:17 am
Location: Newnan, Georgia, US

Re: RasPi as a basic school desktop replacement

Sun Jan 01, 2012 12:20 am

Maybe rather than battering against the Walls, or Windows as the case may be, let it spread like Facebook. First flood Cambridge, then Oxford, etc. etc.

It is, after all, the ultimate dorm room computer. Let the word get around, let it build a little geek chic for a while. It's the Beatles to Pat Boone, the Mini to the Bentley, Punk Rock to Disco. Blister-pack it and sell it in the university bookstores.

Above all, make sure everyone involved with PGCE Study has one or has used one. Build your army of little PiZealots. Wind them up and send them forth to conquer the world for you.

If you want ubiquity, you need a big footprint... a HUGE footprint... Like people pointing and screaming "GOJIRA!!!"  footprint. Unfortunately, that requires a fanatical focus on branding because that is what the public has come to expect.

Everything involved in the project has to have the RasPi mark on it. There must be a SINGLE official, maintained PiLinux release, a single recommended office suite, a single site for downloads and package updates and a single forum for users to mingle.

mightygoose
Posts: 85
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 1:53 pm
Contact: Website

Re: RasPi as a basic school desktop replacement

Mon Jan 02, 2012 10:32 pm

I do somewhat agree that stealth voguing and brand identity could help spark interest.

I do agree that ICT in UK schools is abysmal. I actually learnt more at primary school, playing with LOGO and helping the teachers assemble the schools first network circa 97-98 with the other kids from top set maths. Does anyone actually ever use access for databases?

I do think it would be a bold move & a v.hard sell to the board for OP to recommend jumping off windows onto a very very green setup. Although pioneering in this way could become the precendent, and the community and devs would most certainly help in every way possible.

I think that more study is required by OP and maybe buy one or two test units and set up a mini network as a proof of concept. Afterall that would only cost around £100 total(shooting high and over).

Good luck, i will follow this with interest.

User avatar
Jongoleur
Posts: 1179
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2011 12:47 pm
Location: O'erlooking the sea, and all those effin windfarms...

Re: RasPi as a basic school desktop replacement

Mon Jan 02, 2012 11:44 pm

riFFraFF said:


... Blister-pack it ...


Yes - and not university bookstores but places like Toys R Us - and that's the place I first saw an Asus eeePC when they first came out.  Blister packed, with a SD card/distro in the slot, perhaps with a USB PSU and cable.  Simple instructions on how to make it go and a boot up into ???  Something to grab the attention and make the new user think Wow! and I can do THAT!!!    That sort of delivery may be a little more expensive than the £16/£22 headline figure but the convenience of having a ready to run package is not to be sniffed at.  Thinking on, a "deluxe" package with keyboard, mouse and HDMI lead might be even better - good value for Xmas or birthday presents and completely ready to go.

But first of all, the Foundation has to get the Pi into the hands of the sort of children who might be interested.  And thats the rub...  Pump-priming by getting schools to introduce it as part of the ecosystem may only result in hotspots of interest in the wider world; word of mouth only has a certain radius of infectivity. Something more radical is needed,  I'm just looking forward to Liz and Eben appearing on childrens TV later this year to kick start interest.

In schools, there's too much investment in provision of the current ICT curriculum, the Pi won't become a desktop replacement in such an environment, it doesn't "do" certain Office software.  But as an inexpensive piece of kit to roll out experiments in old style Computing curriculums, it may take a bite, providing there's support from the Government down for such experiments to take place.  And of course, it can also be used for ICT things too... 
I'm just a bouncer, splatterers do it with more force.....

User avatar
riffraff
Posts: 307
Joined: Tue Sep 27, 2011 3:17 am
Location: Newnan, Georgia, US

Re: RasPi as a basic school desktop replacement

Wed Jan 04, 2012 7:12 am

You wanna get mean?

I wanna get mean.

Let's follow the bouncing Apple.

Push hard into the universities, especially in the education and humanities departments. Push with the subliminal concept that the Pi is the flexible little dongle that replaces the computer. To paraphrase a line from one of my favorite Halo videos, "No one uses computers anymore".

Such students are the vanguard of future educational administration. Some may quickly be in position to influence budget decisions. If they've personally used a Pi in lieu of a traditional PC, then they will likely recommend them as such.

The most remarkable feature of this device is its native 1080P HDMI output. It drives big screen TV's with no additional expense. It's just the right fit in education in so many ways beyond its intended use as a programming device, either as a traditional computer or as a turnkey device, and such applications need to be demonstrated:


Pi as cheapest per seat workstation option
Pi as an alternative device in media and testing labs
Pi as a cheap programmable media extension to any television
Pi as replacement traditional video and film equipment
Pi as a whiteboard
Pi + Camera as an opaque projector
Pi + Camera as a telepresence device
Pi + Camera as an A/V replacement to the traditional PA system
Pi as  (God, forgive me for this) a display for motivational media

You need to promote this from the viewpoint that energy gulping computers, huge hardware budgets, software licenses and service contracts are all a part of a corrupt and wasteful past that has no place in education in the new millennium. It doesn't hurt to subtly imply that anyone who favors the old way has a thinly disguised profit-oriented agenda.

User avatar
riffraff
Posts: 307
Joined: Tue Sep 27, 2011 3:17 am
Location: Newnan, Georgia, US

Re: RasPi as a basic school desktop replacement

Wed Jan 04, 2012 9:29 am

@Jongoleur

I appreciate your desire to "do it for the shorties", but unfortunately, children don't make budget decisions. If you put it in toy stores without laying a foundation for broad and systemic acceptance, you'll just be filling a future "reduced for clearance" cart.

I thought this thread was a little frivolous at first, but I'm beginning to see it's value.

It's like being a sniper. You have to carefully observe and plan to take the highest value target first, because once the enemy is aware of your presence and intent he goes defensive and all bets are off.

I don't know how things are done in the UK, but educational decisions are political decisions here in the US. There's a LOT of money to be made off the sweat of the taxpayer in the name of teaching the young 'uns. I would classify most of it as thoroughly corrupt.

Near where I live, there is an ugly two-story block of a building that used to house a local Apple dealership. They survived for many years installing and servicing Mac networks in the local school systems. That is primarily because Apple employed a  strategy of targeting the educational market to produce fanatics who would continue in later years to buy and promote their products.

To some degree they were successful, but MS based systems eventually won out, not because of the convincing argument that students needed to be educated to use the systems and software they would most commonly find in future workplaces, but because MS systems were cheaper to obtain and maintain.

MS is not stupid. For the same reasons as Apple, they have a substantial investment in promoting education based on their products. If the Pi program is in any way successful, it will teach young people a very important lesson, that they can survive a world without MS.

Don't think that any of this is being done in a vacuum. Don't think that when that first shot is fired that MS will merely flinch. You need only look at how they've reacted to the Android ascension, and that in market of portable devices in which they do not, nor have they ever had a substantial interest in.

The irritant of Android is not that it is competition to their newest Windows Phone, but that they see it as a massively successful validation of Linux and the open source concept.  They, and Apple, are working tirelessly with phony "patent infringement" nuisance suits to force tribute from Android manufacturers which will place a pricetag on their core software and force prices up to where they are, hopefully,  no longer a competitive threat.

Now, what do you suppose will happen when the Foundations efforts meet with some degree of success and MS begins to perceive this Pi as a threat? What will happen to the RasPi if it has no army of loyalists in the educational ranks to defend it's presence in the public schools?

Do you think I'm paranoid? Politicians and judges are massive ignoramuses. Look at the f**king SOPA legislation proposed in here in the US. Look at how successful Apple has been in blocking the sale of Samsung's Android products in various nations. Mind you, legal guns are not the only weapons available. Hasn't anyone considered that a number of the bloggers mentioned in the "Pi Hate" thread might very well be shills?

That's why the approach has to be two-pronged. Officially, it needs to be demonstrated as the viable and cheapest solution to an number of educational needs. Unofficially, it needs to have an incredibly irresistible "coolness" factor. That puts the onus on those of us out there who will receive the first units to work together to build an environment for this device that is consistent, seamless, easy for a child or adult to use and full of not just programming environments, but tools and utilities and games.

I'm not saying that any of this will come to pass. I'm just saying that it doesn't hurt to be prepared.

I don't look at this device as toy, I look at it as a first shot in a revolution. I welcome it because I don't see that our current model of personal computing is sustainable - both ecologically and economically. I welcome it because I don't see so many opportunities in the future for innovation, competition, expansion and employment as long as the market is dominated by a couple of major players. If you have something to contribute and you want to see this revolution as much as I do, get your Pi and start loading ammo.

wittzi
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Jan 03, 2012 2:48 pm
Contact: Website

Re: RasPi as a basic school desktop replacement

Wed Jan 04, 2012 12:37 pm

I am not looking to be a troll here and neither do I want people to begin the Windows vs Linux debate, but there is one key factor that is being ignored in this discussion which I think is important.

To be effective in the workplace (not necessarily IT), you need to be proficient with Microsoft products.

I totally agree that in an ideal world everyone would be using Linux, open source office software and learn to embrace computing the way that it should be.  However, the reality is that to deny children the chance to learn & use Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office would be to deny most of them some crucial experience on a platform that is likely to prominent throughout their working lives.

The OP says that there are 3 labs.  Why not have 1 or 2 converted / diverted to RasPi use which sounds like a fantastic idea?  Children can be enthused by teachers explaining to them that the best games programmers started out like that, hackers use the technology, etc ... but maintain a Microsoft lab(s) so that they can also learn skills that will be highly useful in any workplace and not just within IT.

I'm an IT professional, but my company works with the Prince's Trust to help young people in the workplace.  Having grown up programming on my ZX Spectrum and then Commadore Amiga I'm 100% behind the idea of these devices and really hope that they succeed in their aim, but to deny the vast majority of children access to a technology that will undoubtedly be used in later life work in the future seems like a dangerous path to tread.

davidgoodenough
Posts: 74
Joined: Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:55 am

Re: RasPi as a basic school desktop replacement

Wed Jan 04, 2012 1:00 pm

Except that actually you will not be exposing them to the programs they will use in later life, you will be exposing them to (at best) their precursors.

Part of the point of an excercise like Rasperry Pi is to teach them principles, and how it works, not how to use a particular version of a particular program.  Once they understand the principles they can then apply it to whatever they meet later in life.

One of the big problems will the current IT courses is precisely that they teach product not principle.  It is of course in the interest of the likes of Microsoft that school leavers believe that Microsoft software is the sum of all software, but the savvy amongst them have already noticed that Android and iOS are not Microsoft.

Given that we are told the future of computing is the smartphone and the tablet, not the PC, then as most of those run Android or iOS teaching them to use Word and Excel is not preparing them for the future.

Return to “Staffroom, classroom and projects”