Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sugar X0

Walter Bender, from Sugar Labs, provided an overview of Sugar. Great line about how the desktop metaphor was designed for 1970s workers, not children learning; our children have little in common with 1970s office workers. The homepage is colorful and iconic; the limited language on screen makes the operating system easier to translate. Each icon represents a learning activity. Showed the sugar learning activities download portal. Ran through other features, like Journal, which is separate from Write; saves automatically, encourages reflection. Programming environment is part of the philosophy; code available for all users.

Gerald Ardito, middle school teacher in Westchester. 140 XOs in his school; teacher-researcher giving examples of classroom uses. Talked about a math instructor having students write a word problem--the students moved around looking at each other's word problems. Why would kids be excited about that they write on a computer but not on paper? Interesting. Gerald's research saw lots of student talk and help, lots of excitement, different when XO and sugar not used.

Rich Rice: Personal agency that comes with software is valuable; play and meet individual students' needs can be addressed. Suggested that there are granting agency that will support XO and Sugar programs. Watched a video about students at Texas Tech developing XO for science museum in Lubbock. Set up 3 kiosks, 2 with presentations on the history of computers, one for kids to use (interesting choice). Rich said the kiosk has a manual; could be re-produced at Yunker farm or elsewhere. His students also saw the XO problem as an interactive design problem--the students weren't concerned that they wouldn't be working with the XO in the future, because they were learning about interactive design issues.

John Tierney from Sugar Labs talked about the work he is doing to try and encourage collaboration among Schools of Education, Computer Science, and English departments in order to foster collaboration and development. He used an example of Sugar being multi-lingual, allowing teachers to deliver content in English but students to access or do some work in their first language. Carl W brought up the possibility of using Sugar to teach programming to young girls. Could build that into a computer camp that could also involve writing, design, video, etc.

John mentioned that the X.0 contributions program is accepting submissions. Adam Holt is project director.

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