1. I took some time off from programming to attend Evangeline Harris Stefanakis's class at Boston University, School of Education. It is a graduate seminar in which the students are expected to do some field work. Her students are all over-achievers, each with a wealth of experience working with either pre-school or elementary-aged children, many from disadvantaged backgrounds.
I gave a brief Sugar overview and also introduced them to the Portfolio tool. They then explored on their own for an hour or so. Prof. Stefanakis then challenged them to think of ways in which they might incorporate Sugar into their class projects.
2. Mel Chua has been leading the marketing-team discussions the past two weeks. She has brought a renewed energy to the group (log). We are focusing on setting goals and being more structured in our approach to meeting our goals. Sean Daly's participation has given us more grounding.
3. Tony Forster is even more fanatic than I am: he has written "Turtle Lander" in Turtle Art (See Turtle Lander). Previously, I'd written a Turtle Art falling-blocks game (See We got game). Both of us are trying to understand the limits of Turtle Art as a language. Meanwhile, a visit to turtleart.org will give you a sense of how expressive Turtle Art can be within the more narrow domain of Art!
In response to last week's discussion about collaboration, I decided to add collaboration to Turtle Art Portfolio. I wanted to see how difficult it would be and have an excuse to think about what a collaborative programming environment might look like. Try sharing Version 16 (TurtleArtPortfolio-16.xo), but I wouldn't recommend more than 2 or 3 people working together at once.
Community jams, meet-ups, and meetings
4. Simon Schampijer reports that "a bunch of enthusiastic Sugar developers, contributors and community members got together at FOSDEM'09 in Brussels, Belgium this weekend. In addition, a one-day pre-conference meetup took place on Friday. While a variety of topics and issues were discussed, the focus was on how make Sugar a better and more usable solution in the classroom. To that end, a closer connection with both teachers/educators and pilots/deployments that use Sugar must be forged. There also needs to be an easily accessible and central place that contains a list of suggestions for future improvements and their status (think 'Trac for teachers'). Another important need is to make simple activities that are required in the classroom, e.g. simple Maths programs, typing tutors, etc.
"In an inspiring talk given by Red Hat's Greg deKonigsberg it was emphasized that assessment of tasks and activities must also be integral part of the Sugar platform. Tomeu Vizoso outlined the opportunities in the Sugar playground for the GNOME community in his talk in the GNOME room. There were also many interesting discussions with folks from different communities such as Gnome, Gnash, Mandriva, Fedora, etc.
"Notes taken at the event are posted (FOSDEM 2009)."
5. Tutorius is an open source project developed by nine computer engineering students at Sherbrooke University in Canada. Their project is based Sugar, with the simple goal of making education easier and more accessible to teachers and children around the world and also of improving education quality in general. They plan on building an interactive tutor, an Activities editor, a community website and more.
6. We could use some USB sticks for distributing Sugar on a Stick. If you know any one who might be able to donate some USB sticks, please let us know.
7. We need more testing of 0.84 as we approach the March release.
8. Simon also reports that "we had a Sucrose 0.83.5 development release planed for 30 January; we missed that opportunity. We just did an uncoordinated release of the latest sugar, sugar-toolkit and sugar-datastore so packagers can get those into the builds already.
"The next Sucrose release is next week; this will be our Release Candidate 1. Make sure to polish everything up and get your fixes in.
"Testers, please have a look at the new SoaS announcements (snapshots can be found at SoaS snapshots) and the packages in your distribution of choice."
9. Gary Martin has generated another SOM from the past week of discussion on the IAEP mailing list (Please see SOM).