Thursday, March 8, 2012

What's the Problem?

The geek community are all in a froth over Raspberry Pi. A credit card sized computer (though it needs to be plugged into a monitor and keyboard) for "educational purposes".

They're trying to encourage computer sciences. The problem I have with it though, computers have never been the problem. I first learnt to program on a Tandy 102 - a computer from the late 70's, early 80's. Most schools have a few computers in the classroom and/or a computer lab.

And while I'm all about being cynical - think about what you're creating on those computers. Are they being used to engage your students?

So the Raspberry Pi team define the problem being that most people enter the computer sciences with only having done a little website design rather than the situation a couple of decades ago where the people entering computer sciences would have been hobbyist programmers.

Their solution? Build a rather cool cheap little machine and throw them at the problem. If computers and access to computers haven't, as of yet, been an issue, then what are they actually solving? I am willing to go on record to say that Raspberry Pi will have little or no effect on education.

So how is this problems solved? It's a people problem. Ask anyone at school - "why aren't computer sciences taught?". The answer is one of two. Either "we don't have the people to teach it" or "we don't have the people to make it engaging". So without there being professional development around the teaching of such a subject, it simply won't be taught. The computers are available, the software has been developed. It's down to the people...

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