[Sur] 2017 Goals for Sugar Labs

Dr. Gerald Ardito gerald.ardito en gmail.com
Dom Abr 9 09:42:56 EDT 2017


It is great to see this summary. Thanks for putting it together.
I remain interested and inspired by this work.


On Sun, Apr 9, 2017 at 9:31 AM, Walter Bender <walter.bender at gmail.com>

> As per the discussion in the last Suagr Labs Oversight Board Meeting, I
> had agreed to write a draft statement of goals for 2017. The document below
> includes feedback from Samson G. I hope this document can serve to
> revitalize our discussion from 2016 that never reached resolution.
> Sugar Labs Plans, Goals, Aspirations
> What is Sugar Labs?
> Sugar Labs creates, distributes, and maintains learning software for
> children. Our approach to learning is grounded in Constructionism, a
> pedagogy developed by Seymour Papert and his colleagues in the 1960s and
> 70s at MIT. Papert pioneered the use of the computer by children to help
> engage them in the “construction of knowledge.” His long-time colleague
> Cynthia Solomon expanded up his ideas by introducing the concept of
> engaging children in debugging as a pathway into problem-solving. Their
> 1971 paper, “Twenty things to do with a computer”, is arguably the genesis
> of contemporary movements such as the Maker Movement and Hour of Code.
> At the core of Constructionism is “learning through doing.” If you want
> more learning, you want more doing. At Sugar Labs we provide tools to
> promote doing. (We focus almost exclusively on tools, not instructional
> materials.) However, we go beyond “doing” by incorporating critical dialog
> and reflection into the Sugar learning environment, through mechanisms for
> collaboration, journaling, and portfolio.
> Sugar Labs is a spinoff of the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project and
> consequently it has inherited many of its goals from that project. The goal
> of OLPC is to bring the ideas of Constructionism to scale in order to reach
> more children. A particular focus is on children in the developing world.
> In order to meet that goal, Sugar, which was originally developed for OLPC,
> was by necessity a small-footprint solution that required few resources in
> terms of CPU, memory, storage, or network connectivity. The major change on
> focus from the OLPC project is that Sugar Labs strives to make the Sugar
> desktop available to multiple platforms, not just the OLPC XO hardware.
> Who develops Sugar?
> Sugar Labs is a 100% volunteer effort (although we do occasionally raise
> money for paid student internships). Sugar development and maintenance is
> incumbent upon volunteers and hence we strive to provide as much control as
> possible to our community members, including our end-users. (In fact, one
> of our assertions is that by enabling our users to participate in the
> development of the tools that they use will lead to deeper engagement in
> their own learning.) Towards these ends, we chose the GPL as our primary
> license. It has been said of the GPL that it “restricts my right [as a
> developer] to restrict yours [as a user and potential developer]”, which
> seems ideal for a project that wants to engage a broad and diverse set of
> learners. But at Sugar Labs we go beyond the usual goals of FOSS: a license
> to make changes to the code is not enough to ensure that users make
> changes. We also strive to provide the means to make changes. Our success
> in this goal is best reflected in the number of patches we receive from our
> community. (We achieve this goal through providing access to source code
> and development tools within Sugar itself. We also actively participate in
> workshops and internship programs such as Google Summer of Code,
> Outreaching, and Google Code-In.)
> Who uses Sugar?
> Ultimately, our goal is to reach learners (and educators) with powerful
> tools and engage them in Constructionist learning. Currently we reach them
> in many ways: the majority of our users get the Sugar desktop preinstalled
> on OLPC XO hardware. We have a more modest set of users who get Sugar
> packaged in Fedora, Trisquel, Debian, Ubuntu, or other GNU/Linux platforms.
> Some users get Sugar on Live Media (i.e., Sugar on a Stick). Recently
> Sugarizer, a repackaging of some of the core Sugar ideas for the browser,
> has been finding its way to some users. There are also a number of Sugar
> activities that are popular outside of the context Sugar itself, for
> example, Turtle Blocks, which has wide-spread use in India. Harder to
> measure is the extent to which Sugar has influenced other providers of
> “educational” software. If the Sugar pedagogy is incorporated by others,
> that advances our goal.
> Who supports Sugar?
> When we first created Sugar Labs, we envisioned “Local Labs”—hence the
> name “Sugar Labs”, plural—that would provide local support in terms of
> local-language support, training, curriculum development, and
> customizations. This model has not ever gained the scale and depth
> envisioned (we can debate the reasons why), although there are still some
> active local communities (e.g., Educa Paraguay) that continue to work
> closely with the broader community. There are also individual volunteers,
> such as Tony Anderson and T.K. Kang, who help support individual schools in
> Rwanda, Malaysia, et al. An open question is how do we support our users
> over the long term?
> What is next for Sugar?
> We face several challenges at Sugar Labs. With the ebb of OLPC, we have a
> contracting user base and the number of professional developers associated
> with the project is greatly diminished. How can we expand our user base?
> How can we attract more experienced developers? Why would they want to work
> on Sugar as opposed to some other project? The meta issue is how do we keep
> Sugar relevant in a world of Apps and small, hand-held devices? Can we meet
> the expectations of learners living in a world of fast-paced, colorful
> interfaces? How do we ensure that it is fulfilling its potential as a
> learning environment and that our users, potential users, and imitators are
> learning about and learning from Sugar. Some of this is a matter of
> marketing; some of this is a matter of staying focused on our core
> pedagogy; some of this a matter of finding strategic partners with whom we
> can work.
> We have several near-term opportunities that we should leverage:
> * Raspian: The Raspberry PI 3.0 is more than adequate to run Sugar—the
> experience rivals or exceeds that of the OLPC XO 4.0 hardware. While RPi is
> not the only platform we should be targeting, it does has broad penetration
> into the Maker community, which shares a synergy with our emphasis on
> “doing”. It is low-hanging fruit. With a little polish we could have an
> image available for download from the RPi website.
> * Trisquel: We have the potential for better leveraging the Free Software
> Foundation as a vehicle for promoting Sugar. Their distro of choice is
> Trisquel and the maintainer does a great job of keep the Sugar packages up
> to date.
> * Sugarizer: The advantage of Sugarizer is that it has the potential of
> reaching orders of magnitude more users since it is web-based and runs in
> Android and iOS. There is some work to be done to make the experience
> palatable on small screens and the current development environment is—at
> least my opinion—not scalable or maintainable. The former is a formidable
> problem. The latter quite easy to address.
> * Stand-alone projects such as Music Blocks have merit as long as they
> maintain both a degree of connection with Sugar and promote the values of
> the community. It is not certain that these projects will lead users
> towards Sugar, but they do promote FOSS and Constructionist principles. And
> they have attracted new developers to the Sugar community.
> * School-server: The combination of the School Server and Sugar desktop is
> a technical solution to problems facing small and remote communities. We
> should continue to support and promote this combination.
> Specific actions: After last year’s Libre Planet conference, several
> community members discussed a marketing strategy for Sugar. We thought that
> if we could reach influencers, we might be able to greatly amplify our
> efforts. There are several prominent bloggers and pundits in the education
> arena who are widely read and who might be receptive to what we are doing.
> One significant challenge is that GNU/Linux remains on the far periphery of
> the Ed Tech world. Although the “love affair” with all things Apple seems
> to be over, the new elephant in the room—Chromebooks and Google Docs—is
> equally difficult to co-exist with. Personally, I see the most potential
> synergy with the Maker movement, which is building up momentum in
> extra-curricular programs, where FOSS and GNU-Linux are welcome (hence my
> earlier focus on RPi). (There are even some schools that are building their
> entire curriculum around PBL.) We can and should develop and run some
> workshops that can introduce Sugar within the context of the Maker
> movement. (Toward that end, I have been working with some teachers on how
> to leverage, for example, Turtle Blocks for 3D printing.) It is very much a
> tool-oriented community with little overall discussion of architectural
> frameworks, so we have some work to do. But there is lots of low-hanging
> fruit there.
> regards.
> -walter
> --
> Walter Bender
> Sugar Labs
> http://www.sugarlabs.org
> <http://www.sugarlabs.org>
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