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Archive/Current Events/2008-08-25

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Sugar Digest

1. Elections: The US presidential election is not the only opportunity to organize for change. The polls are open for the Sugar Labs oversight board (The list of candidates can be found at candidates list). Polls close on 31 August 2008.

2. 0.82: Simon Schampijer reports that Sucrose 0.82 has been released (Please see Sucrose 0.82 for details and documentation). Many thanks to the release team and our community contributors. They've done a great job.

3. 0.84 goals: Marco Pesenti Gritti has begun a discussion thread about our goals for the 0.84 release (Please join the discussion, which is archived at [1]). The list currently includes:

  • Next generation journal
  • File sharing
  • Group view/bulletin board
  • Collaboration scalability
  • Responsive UI
  • Stable activities API
  • Official Sugar LiveCD
  • Compatibility with desktop applications
  • Maintain Add-On Applications Installs and Data During OS upgrades
  • Quality and reliability

Please also see 0.84 Goals.

4. Constuctionism: The discussion around a succinct definition of Constructionism has heated up again (Please see [2]). While there is consensus that Sugar Labs should not be advocating just "one right way" to learn, a concise explanation of the learning opportunities exposed and enhanced by the Sugar learning platform would go a long ways towards getting more educators engaged in the discussion. We also would benefit from documenting some tangible results from the field that can serve as exemplars.

This second wave of discussion began with Seth Woodworth dredging up the Media Lab's Future of Learning group's definition of Constructionism [3] (this is the group founded by Seymour Papert):

We are developing "Constructionism" as a theory of learning and education. Constructionism is based on two different senses of "construction." It is grounded in the idea that people learn by actively constructing new knowledge, rather than having information "poured" into their heads. Moreover, constructionism asserts that people learn with particular effectiveness when they are engaged in constructing personally meaningful artifacts (such as computer programs, animations, or robots).

The above definition does not sufficiently distinguish Constructionism from "open-ended discovery" for the casual reader. Bill Kerr followed up with a discussion of Cynthia Solomon's book, Computer Environments for Children, in which she discusses four models of learning:

  • Suppes: Drill and Practice and Rote Learning
  • Davis: Socratic Interactions and Discovery Learning
  • Dwyer: Eclecticism and Heuristic Learning
  • Papert: Constructivism and Piagetian Learning

Martin Langhoff hit the nail on the head when he asked, "How do we make this useful for teaching?"

What does Sugar offer in terms of affordances that can make a positive impact in (and out of) the classroom? The key in my mind is that Sugar facilitates collaboration (and critique); reflection (through the Journal); and discovery, through its clarity of design and roots in FOSS.

Community jams and meetups

5. Book sprint: The FLOSS Manuals Sugar/XO book sprint begins Sunday in Austin, TX (Details are available at Documentation Team/Book Sprint).

Tech Talk

6. LiveCD: Wolfgang Rohrmoser reports an updated version of the XO LiveCD (Please download it from [4]). This release is based on Joyride 2282; it demonstrates many new Sugar features and updated activities.

7. Firefox: C. Scott Ananian has made Firefox 3 available via software-update (Please see [5]).

Sugar Labs

8. Self-organizing map (SOM): Gary Martin has generated another SOM from the past week of discussion on the IAEP mailing list (Please see Image:2008-August-9-15-som.jpg).