Sugar Digest 2009-04-27

Sugar Digest

1. A teacher in Uruguay, Rosamel Ramirez, initiated a discussion on the Sur list this weekend about her frustration with the volume of technical discussion and the dearth of education discussion on the list. Several proposals to address the situation have been raised, including Yamandu Ploskonka’s proposal for a fork, where teachers would have their own list, and Hernán Pachas’s proposal to use tags in the Subject Field to indicate [Pedagogical], [Technical], and [Social] threads within a single list.

It is always a difficult decision to fork a list. As Paolo Benini from Montevideo pointed out, in a new project, where we are all learning from each other, it becomes difficult to know where to ask questions when the community is fragmented.

My hope is that the teachers will be willing to give Hernán’s proposal a try and that they do continue to participate, as they represent the primary means of closing the loop between our engineering efforts and our end-users, the children.

2. Meanwhile, Evita Preciosa from Peru asked if there were any recent studies indicating the efficacy of Sugar/OLPC. I was quite pleased with these results, as reported by Hernán (apparently, a formal report will be issued soon).

Have there been improved levels of reading comprehension? Reading comprehension of children in primary levels has been improved by approximately 50%.

Does increased use of computing (and Sugar) improve student achievement? Student achievement is measured by many variables; we have seen improved reading comprehension, text analysis, and mathematical analysis.

Have you seen improved logical thinking? We have seen improved the logical mathematical thinking, but we need more work on this subject (more activities are need in this area).

Have students improved their ability to analyze the texts they read? They have increased by almost 60% in all primary levels.

Are students more creative? The texts produced by children and teachers demonstrate more creativity; also there is improvement in writing and spelling.

Are the students gaining skills and problem-solving skills? The students are using skills gained to help their parents (farmers or ranchers) to improve their activities.

In the community

3. Daniel Drake reports that they just finished handing out 3500 laptops (running Sugar 0.82) in Paraguay: many happy children.

4. Luis Acevedo reports that there was a Sugar booth at the FLISOL 2009 meeting in Santiago, Chile last Saturday on April 25. Sugar on a Stick was featured and the response was quite positive; many attendees were interested in trying it (See FLISOL pictures).

5. Caryl Bigenho reports that the XO computer and Sugar software were a hit at the LAUSD InfoTech event at the Los Angeles Convention center.

So many people fell in love with the XO and wanted to know how to get them. When I explained the current situation of needing large orders they were crestfallen. But then they brightened up when I explained the alternatives:

  • Buy a machine from an online auction such as ebay. Some parents found this an interesting option.
  • Run SoaS on the computers they already have or on others they can buy easily “off the shelf.” Both teachers and parents were interested in this option.
  • Create a really great new idea for using the XO with students and apply for contributors machines to develop and test the idea. A large number of teachers were interested in doing this. It will be interesting to see how many follow through.

Caryl also invited the educators to sign up to receive information about a new open-source interest group forming within the CUE (Computer Using Educators) organization in California.

6. Lionel Laske announced that OLPC France will organize with Sugar Labs the first Sugar Camp in Europe in Paris on May 16. Sign up here. Several workshop will be organized all around the day: technical, pedagogical and documentation. The full agenda is not closed so do not hesitate to submit a workshop proposal. These events are fully free, thanks to AFUL and GDium.

There will also be a Sugar meeting on the 17th (See Paris Sugar meeting) where we will be discussing initial plans for Sucrose 0.86.

Help Wanted

7. Sayamindu Dasgupta has made some sketches of a Gnuemeric port to Sugar based on its new libspreadsheet library (See Screenshot.png). It would be great if someone where to take on the task of making a proper Gnumeric activity.

8. MIT Community Service is giving us a grant to support an intern this summer to work on the Gardner School deployment (in Allston, Massachusetts). Please contact Caroline Meeks if you are interested in the position.

Tech Talk

9. We held the first “mini developers tutorial” this week on IRC. The idea is to feature a topic in a five minute tutorial. The topic this week was keyboard shortcuts. From the log you can see that we ended up going on much longer than the alloted five minutes, discussing keyboard shortcuts more generally, but the tutorial part of the discussion was indeed short and to the point.

If you’d be interested in hosting a tutorial, please sign up at Mini Tutorials.

The next meeting will be held on Thursday, 30 April, at 18:00 UTC. The topic is “Using IRC”. It will be run both in IRC on irc.freenode.net, #sugar-meeting, and in chat on jabber.sugarlabs.org (using the Sugar Chat activity).

10. Sascha Silbe removed Ubuntu Jaunty from the list of supported versions. He will add it back once Xephyr and X inside kvm work (See bug #356133).

In a related post, David Van Assche reports that due to “the sad state” of Ubuntu Sugar, he and his friends packaged Sugar for openSUSE.

11. Sebastian Dziallas has put together a page in the wiki to guide us through the process of using the Smolt project to track the various hardware systems running Sugar on a Stick. You’ll need to use the latest snapshop, which has Smolt included, in order to submit your hardware specifications.

12. Sayamindu announced that Pootle has shifted to a new and improved home. Pootle is accessible from translate.sugarlabs.org (and translate.laptop.org); All your user preferences, translations, accounts, etc. are preserved and dev.laptop.org/translate should redirect to the new address. The new server is much more responsive. Many thanks to Sayamindu and the localization team for their hard work.

Sugar Labs

13. Gary Martin has generated a SOM from the past week of discussion on the IAEP mailing list (Please see SOM).

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