Saturday, 9 June 2012

New Toy

OK not really a toy, it's a Raspberry Pi:

The Raspberry Pi is a single-board computer developed in the UK by the Raspberry Pi Foundation with the intention of stimulating the teaching of basic computer science in schools. The device also features high performance video and graphic capability as well as a low price (25 USD).

And here's mine just out of the box:


As someone who grew up with the BBC series of computers, I'm pleased to see something that not only evokes their memory but also attempts to bring back the original concept of computer literacy to the present day.
There are two problems that I see today; computer literacy now means being able to use Word and Excel, and that's most of the GCSE ICT syllabus covered, and second, most consumer electronics goods like smartphones are perceived as black boxes with most people having no idea about what goes on inside. I see the Raspberry Pi as a solution to this - it comes without a case with all components on display and the recommended operating system distribution comes with a load of programming tools. There are tonnes of guides and project ideas to follow and they are all free. It has a huge potential to make IT interesting for children - creating your own app beats setting up a pivot table or learning to format a Word document. I'm competent with computers but certainly not a techy, and in the 24 hours since I've had the thing, I can control it remotely from my laptop and I've set it up as a media player using an Android tablet as a remote control. And this is from a device that cost a shade over £30 including VAT and postage*. If I get it to do nothing else then I'll still be happy, however my two pre-schoolers have shown an interest already - I'll have them programming in Python before the year is out...

* OK, I spent extra on some bits and pieces because I wanted a dedicated set-up rather than cannibalise all the leads, etc. Here's what I bought and can confirm works:

HDMI Cable
SD Card
Wireless Keyboard and Mouse
And because wireless dongles don't seem to work in my house - this

Addendum on 11th June 2012 - Very important - Power supply!

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