Archive/Current Events/2010-01-07

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Sugar Digest

1. The coming of a new year is a good time for reflection and setting of goals. At Sugar Labs, we have a lot to reflect upon in 2009 and a lot to look forward to in 2010.

We began 2009 in engaged in a healthy debate about how best to put powerful tools for learning into the hands of children. I consider it a healthy sign that as we are reaching the end of 2009, we are still engaged in that debate. As a community, we remain passionate and outspoken about things that matter and we continue to ask how our work impacts learning.

In January we felt the shock-wave of the "reorganization" of One Laptop per Child. As a result OLPC has more directly leveraged the efforts of the Sugar community and we have a more productive cooperation between our organizations; perhaps more important, we are beginning to see more cooperation between Sugar Labs and one-laptop-per-child deployments around the world. In March we released Sucrose 0.84 and got news of our acceptance into the Google Summer of Code program. We were establishing a reputation for being responsible and reliable members of the FOSS community. In September we learned that every child in Uruguay is now a Sugar user. In October, we exceeded 1-million downloads on activities.sugarlabs.org (At the year's end, we are over the 1,750,000-download mark).

On the technical front, we reached some major milestones and saw many smaller achievements in 2009: Simon Schampijer oversaw the 0.84 and 0.86 releases and is leading the 0.88 effort; Tomeu Vizoso, who does all things Sugar, found the time to make "view source" universal across all activities and integrate Gnash more fully into Sugar; Sebastian Dziallas released two versions of Sugar on a Stick, leading the way for other GNU/Linux distributions to release LiveUSB images of Sugar, including Thomas C Gilliard, David Van Assche, and the openSUSE community efforts as well as Rubén Rodríguez Pérez's Triquel-based Sugar on Toast; Jonas Smedegaard continues his work on maintaining Sugar on Debian; the Fedora community's dedication to Sugar remains unparalleled (special kudos to Steven Parrish, Chris Ball, Daniel Drake, Paul Fox, Peter Robinson, Mel Chua, et al.); Bryan Berry and the team in Nepal launched the Karma project; Michael Stone made significant progress in making Rainbow run outside of the constraints of the OLPC deployments of Sugar; we saw patches being submitted by educators; contributions of accessibility code from Esteban Arias and the LATU team; the launch of our activity portal (thanks to Josh Williams, Aleksey Lim, and David Farning); Benjamin Schwartz made progress on GroupThink; the Activity Team made ebooks a central focus; Bernie Innocenti, David Farning, and the Infrastructure Team have given us a solid base for growth; Wade Brainerd (had a baby) and kept the Activity Team vibrant; James Simmons has been both writing some of our more popular activities and documenting how to write a Sugar activity; Sayamindu Dasgupta has done great work leading the i18n team and he made a fork of Turtle Art to support the Arduino; Raúl Gutiérrez Segalés, Martin Abente, and the team in Paraguay have made numerous contributions, including an inventory tool and 3G support (with cross-border cooperation from Daniel Castelo); and Aleksey Lim made contributions to virtually every corner of Sugar and Sugar Labs.

My personal highlights for 2009 were a chance to meet so many community members face to face for the first time: Tony Forster and Bill Kerr in Melbourne; Sebastian Dziallas in Berlin; Gary Martin, Sascha Silbe, Bruno Coudoin, David Van Assche, Marten Vijn, Christian Vanizette, and Sean Daly in Paris; Pia Waugh and Donna Benjamin in Hobart; Mike Usmar in Auckland and Tabitha Roper in Wellington; Diego Uribe in Cambridge; Gerald Ardito in New York; Paul Flint, Kevin Cole, Nicco Eneidi, and Colin Applegate in Barre; Luke Faraone and Jeff Elkner in Washington; Kiko Mayorga in Lima; etc.

I would also be remiss in not pointing out the pleasure I got in reading Sdenka Salas's Sugar manual, Rosamel Norma Ramirez Mendez's reports from her classroom in Uruguay, Tony Foster's blog posts on Turtle Art, the posts by Bill Kerr's students on Sugar, and being greeted by a room full of children running the Sugar Speak program in a simultaneous chorus of "Welcome Mr. Bender."

We had set some short-term goals for ourselves in 2009: to grow our community, broaden its code base, and most important, increase the number of children using Sugar. While we may have fallen short in our goals of "building a Sugar presence in the forums that teachers habituate", the vector is pointing in the right direction—teacher engagement on the Sur list being a bellwether. We did not reach as many children through Sugar on netbooks; Sugar on a Stick; and Sugar deployed through a terminal server as we are currently reaching through our OLPC collaboration—something to aim for in 2010. Our "Big Overarching Goals for 2010" will be the subject of a Sugar Digest post in January.

2. The Babson College project report on Strategies for Sugar deployments in US schools is now in the wiki (See File:Sugar Deployment in US Schools Report.pdf and File:MCFE Final Presentation SugarLabs 12-11.pdf).

Sugar Labs

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