Archive/Current Events/2013-10-05

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Sugar Digest

1. The New York Times had an article about the tablet invasion, No Child Left Untableted, in this Sunday's magazine section [1]. The author of the article was a skeptical of the approach taken by the Murdoch-backed Amplify tablet. I've not seen the Amplify tablet yet, so it is difficult to judge, but there is one photograph in the article that says it all: a tablet showing a blue screen with the words "Eyes on Teacher". When technology becomes the affordance used by the teacher to control the class, it is a sure sign that the use of technology has gone seriously awry. With Sugar, we celebrate the fact that the students are so engaged with learning that the teacher can (in some cases literally) throw the stick out the window. It seems with Amplify, they are handed a $199 digital stick.

2. There has been a renewed discussion on the lists about Android. (The topic seems to come up once every 2-3 months.) Meanwhile, the Sugar developer team continues to make great headway. Our approach has two stages. The first stage is to make HTML5/Javascript a first-class development environment for Sugar. The basics are largely complete: we already have about a dozen new activities that use the new framework. There are many details that still need addressing and undoubtedly the framework will change as we gather more experience, but please do try it: early feedback is very helpful. The second stage is to migrate to the HTML5/JS apps to the Android platform. We also need to migrate some Sugar services to Android, such as the data store, and design some mechanisms for collaboration (we are exploring, among other things, a web-services approach to collaboration).

There are other approaches to getting Sugar up on Android. I blogged about some efforts last year by students at the Homi Baba Center to get Linux running on a generic tablet in order to run Sugar. George Hunt has been taking a similar approach. Ruben Rodríguez has been working with Ubuntu on Android, which would also support Sugar. These efforts would likely provide more backward compatibility to existing Sugar deployments; the downside is the need to reboot to launch Android apps. As always, the problem with dual-boot in a school setting is that the maintenance and support costs double.

At the core of both efforts remains a dedication to what makes Sugar valuable to the learner: the emphasis on tools for constructing; the Journal providing interoperability between objects and a place for reflection; the facility with which learners can collaborate; the empowerment of the end user as the constructor of both tools and knowledge. We remain dedicated to the principles of Free Software, even in the commercial world of Android.

In the community

3. International Turtle Art Day will be on October 12. Pacita Peña and Cecilia Alcala will be hosting an event in Caacupé and there will be other events around the world sharing ideas and resources. Brian Silverman and Artemis Papert will be featured guests. There are guides to holding a Turtle Art Day event available in English and Spanish. (Tip of the hat to Claudia Urea, who has led this effort.)

4. From 10-13 October, there will be an EduJam!, in Asunción. On the 13th, we will hold a hack-a-thon, and hopefully make some headway on some of the open issues with Sugar on Android. We will also take advantage of the occasion of so many Sugar oversight board members (Gonzalo, Daniel, Claudia, and me) in one place to hold a SLOB meeting (most likely on Sunday morning).

5. Google Summer of Code is coming to a close. We have had a terrific group of student interns, who contributed to a wide range of projects. Many thanks to: Kalpa Welivitigoda, Akshit Khurana, Marion Zepf, Casey DeLorme, Erik Price, Rahul Gaur, and Suraj KS. Also, many thanks to our community mentors, including Marten Abente, Lionel Laské, Claudia Urrea, Gonzalo Odaird, Remy DeCausemaker, and Aneesh Dogra.

Tech Talk

6. We are wrapping up Sugar 100 and need all hands helping with both closing a few outstanding tickets and helping with testing. Gonzalo and Jerry have been preparing images (Fedora 18) for OLPC AU that can be used for testing [10]. Kudos to our release manager Daniel Narvaez!!!

7. Tom Gilliard has been making SoaS images on Fedora 20 that can also be used for testing. Meanwhile, the previous release of Sugar (98.8) is available on Ubuntu (12.04) thanks to the efforts of Quidam.

Sugar Labs

8. Please visit (and contribute to) our planet.