Monday, 8 October 2012

Raspberry's and Pythons!

Raspberry Pi, an education platform!

Raspberry Pi, low cost credit card sized computer , has initially been put together by the charitable trust that designed it as an educators platform.  The primary intention to educate the young (under 18 year olds) in the mysteries of computer architecture and programming.  

A step back to the days of self build computers in the late seventies and early eighties.  I do remember buying Personal Computer World and looking at the Commodore PETs and wincing at the price beyond my pocket money.  Migrating to the more techie magazines where bare boards could be bought and made up the costs again seemed to escalate.  The Sinclair ZX80  arrived, still too expensive (half a weeks wages for the average for the worker) then the ZX81 (I finally managed to own one of these).   Then came Windows! 

Each time a new "consumer" computer arrived the machine became more enclosed and a black box culture started to emerge of plug and play.  In amongst this the educational use and then the UK National Curriculum for IT or ICT arrived.  This sought to educate people in the end use of technology as opposed to understanding the technology. The lack of understanding of what is within the black box was obscured by the use of WYSWYG applications that bridged the gap between hardware understanding and programming skills.   Basic engineering and STEM (the new buzz word) skills were no longer there since the cost of the item was so expensive tinkering with the engineering was naturally shied away from.  The Raspberry Pi again gives this feel of a new start to computing.  

Raspberry Pi is a Linnux based system with the operating system stored on an SD card which in effect is a solid state hard drive.  This comes in various different versions and images downloadable from the Raspberry Pi foundation.  The interesting feature for me at the moment is that the latest images are supporting Python.  Python is one of the fundamentals to Google Course builder.  As system is Linnux based, a precursor of Android and uses an ARM processor it should be possible to get the Raspberry Pi to run the App engine.  

Manufacturing of the Raspberry Pi has only really just started to go into volume.  At a price of £35 for the basic unit a more economical way of ensuring cheap access to the digital classroom than an Apple or a Samsung solution.



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