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Google Funds Raspberry Pi And CS Teachers For UK Schools 165

Posted by samzenpus
from the google-a-better-grade dept.
nk497 writes "Last year, Eric Schmidt slammed British computer science teaching, saying the UK was wasting its computing heritage — since then, the Government has agreed to re-examine how the subject is taught. 'Rebooting computer science education is not straightforward,' Schmidt said. 'Scrapping the existing curriculum was a good first step — the equivalent of pulling the plug out of the wall. The question is now how to power up.' To help, Schmidt has now promised funding from Google to train 100 teachers as well as give classrooms Raspberry Pis, via charity Teach First."
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Google Funds Raspberry Pi And CS Teachers For UK Schools

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 24, 2012 @08:52AM (#40098777)

    "...Welcome to maths. If I have three Pepsi and drink one how refreshed would I be?"

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Google don't need to slap their brand all over this. They gain in two quantifiable ways:

      1. Good will. Google are the good guys here.
      2. A better trained workforce. They'll need engineers in ten years time, after all.
  • If only... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 24, 2012 @08:55AM (#40098791)

    If only I could buy one.

    • by symbolset (646467) *
      Google's recent acquisition may be able to help with that. I understand they know how to get stuff manufactured at scale.
    • by wed128 (722152)

      Just got my "Purchase Code" from RS on tuesday; I signed up minutes after they went on sale back in febuary. Be patient, you'll get one eventually.

    • I just bought a Raspberry Pi at Newark Electronics. $44.xx with shipping and taxes. Whoo Hoo!

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @09:02AM (#40098803)
    Hmm, with over 3,900 secondary schools [cilt.org.uk] and over 21,000 primary schools [cilt.org.uk] in the UK that should go far.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      What, are you suggesting Google should be responsible for the entire UK education system?

      Presumably this is a pilot project, and if it goes well, more teachers will be trained and more hardware purchased. At least that's how I'd expect this to work in a sane world.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Training 100 teachers probably means a 2 hour lecture on plugging the thing in. Google is just after cheap publicity & karma.

        • by PerfectionLost (1004287) <ben@@@perfectresolution...com> on Thursday May 24, 2012 @10:44AM (#40099659)

          Training 100 teachers probably means a 2 hour lecture on plugging the thing in. Google is just after cheap publicity & karma.

          Or if you RTFA:

          Schmidt said the funding would be handed to the charity Teach First, to put 100 recent graduates through a six-week training course and give them equipment - including the Raspberry Pi - before sending them into schools to teach.

        • What do you know about Teach First? It's a scheme, very successful in the US and the UK, to persuade high achieving graduates to at least spend a couple of years in teaching. Some of them stay; my daughter and her fiance are department heads at an early age. If they don't stay, at least when they get into business they are more likely to have an insight into the backgrounds and capabilities of a lot of the people who will work for them.

          Eric Schmidt has done exactly the right thing. It's a pity that it takes

    • by balor (205103)

      It should go reasonably far. Each of the 21,000 primary schools (of which I know more about than secondary) are within an administrative area. Generally, the people who head ICT training in these administrative areas are not developers. Furthermore, in the UK primary sector, there exist quite advanced mechanisms for transferring "best practice" from one school to the next. The UK gov't spends real money on this and gets real results in turn. If you train 100 teachers in the current pedagogical best pra

      • by Xest (935314) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @10:34AM (#40099559)

        "Furthermore, in the UK primary sector, there exist quite advanced mechanisms for transferring "best practice" from one school to the next. The UK gov't spends real money on this and gets real results in turn."

        Does it? I spent a number of years supporting "Advisory Teachers" who exist outside any one school for precisely the purpose of teaching teachers how to teach and the level of ineptitude was frankly astounding.

        In fact, it was from an IT Advisory Teacher that I got my dumbest, most ridiculous ever technical support call once - "Hi, there's no paper in the printer, and an orange light on it and it wont print, can you come and have a look at it?"

        Yes that's right, it wouldn't print BECAUSE IT HAD NO FUCKING PAPER IN IT. Her colleague wasn't any better, phoning up almost on a weekly basis to point out that she couldn't get sound on the training suite computer - oddly enough because she hadn't turned the fucking speakers on.

        Honestly, Advisory Teachers are a prime example of a non-job, it's a high paid role (£40k - £60k p/a) and it's where teachers who were shit at teaching basically go to die.

        It's these people those 100 slots Google is promoting should replace. I cannot describe how inexplicably terrible advisory teachers are. I even made the mistake of engaging in discussion with a maths one once, thinking we may have shared a common interest in maths, but no, her maths qualifications seem to just about extend to counting to 10 and nothing more.

        Still it's been some years, maybe things have changed, maybe there are other mechanisms that bypass advisory teachers or something so perhaps you're right. But my experience was that local governments tended to throw literally millions of pounds a year down the drain on these people who - and I say this literally, not figuratively - weren't even fit to pass some of the most basic computing courses out there, which cover things such as doing a mail merge with Word. Bad just isn't a powerful enough word to describe how awful these people were at their jobs.

        It sounds like I'm ranting, it sounds like I'm going over the top in my critique of the situation, but it really is quite unbeleivable how much of a train wreck advisory services were in the UK at least some years back - I'd be amazed if they've had a complete turn around since.

        • by Velex (120469)

          "Hi, there's no paper in the printer, and an orange light on it and it wont print, can you come and have a look at it?"

          That might not have been quite what you thought it was. I've worked in a nearly all female environment for a while now (extremely stable job, company actually started growing when the economy fell apart).

          We all had it beat into our heads during the ninties with shows like Home Improvement that males are all lunkheads who are too prideful to ask for help or directions. Naturally, females were portrayed as flawless, rational, civilizing influences that just have some kind of higher existence than a man c

    • by Simon Brooke (45012) <stillyet@googlemail.com> on Thursday May 24, 2012 @09:44AM (#40099111) Homepage Journal

      For heaven's sake, it's a start, and a start is better than a slap in the face with a wet fish.

      Sadly, I think it's England only. Those of you outside the United Kingdom think we're all one country, but we aren't - we're an international union just like the EU. There is no 'UK' educational system. However, we should all of us be supporting initiatives like this where ever we are.

    • Notice that they're not working with the government, they're working with Teach First [teachfirst.org.uk]. Teach First is a charity (working specifically within the English education sector, not the UK) which places graduates into schools for a two year on-the-job qualification (as opposed to the standard one-year university-based course that has a significant teaching practice component).

      Teach First took on 770 new teachers for the 2011-2012 academic year, and a large percentage of them would have been going into secondary s

  • 100 teachers - 4364 secondary schools .... Maths is obviously not his strong point ...

    • If he paid for 4364 teachers, it still would not be his strong point.

      The idea is that he has put his money where his mouth is, now the government should do the same.
    • by u38cg (607297)
      Well, you can only train so many teachers at a time, and there are only so many positions available though.
      • by PhilHibbs (4537)

        This is the internet. An opinion must be an exaggerated parody of an opinion, or it is considered worthless and derisory. I demand that either you agree that they should train the entire UK population to be CS teachers, or that they should shut up and do nothing!

    • by deroby (568773)

      Ah, you're missing the big picture : thanks to the power of google's MapReduce algorithms those 100 teachers can easily spread the (home) work over those 4000-ish schools !

      (I know, I know...)

    • Re:100 Teachers (Score:4, Insightful)

      by strength_of_10_men (967050) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @09:56AM (#40099211)
      100 teachers, each training another 100, who in turn train another 100. Perspicacity is obviously not your strong point. But I guess if you can't do anything else, at least you can bitch.
  • by jholyhead (2505574) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @09:10AM (#40098849)
    That would bring the total number of specialist Computer Science teachers in the UK to...100.
    • by Xiaran (836924)
      When I was doing Computing in High School the guy teaching us was a first year CompSci student part time. I quickly learnt that all of his homework assignments were in fact his homework and assignments for basically Programming 101. I was not sure if this guy was evil or a genius.
    • by rvw (755107)

      That would bring the total number of specialist Computer Science teachers in the UK to...100.

      Yeah and of course those Google bastards use the binary system. So they get credit for one hundred teachers, but only deliver four.

    • That would bring the total number of specialist Computer Science teachers in the UK to...100.

      No, it would leave it at zero. As soon as the teachers become qualified in an IT topic that's in demand they'll be off into a "proper" job (you know: desk, phone, work-colleagues they can chat to, coffee when they please, unlimited surfing and a spot of working, too) that doesn't involve being in a room with a bunch of angry/hostile/bored/demotivated/sociopathic children - and the kids in the classes are even worse that the ones in the staff room.

    • Parent modded 'Funny'; actually, was a slight exaggeration... it would be 101.

  • Funding schmunding (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hognoxious (631665) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @09:13AM (#40098883) Homepage Journal

    From all the gripes I see the problem is finding the little buggers.

    Has anyone here actually held one in his sweaty hand?

    • They're currently highly backordered (to the point that they're limiting how many people can order and in what quantities at one time). I just ordered mine today, and I was on the waiting list since the official launch. The delivery time said ~3 weeks.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        I now wonder if you were talking about Raspberry Pi's, at first I thought you were backordering CS teachers, and finding the little buggers has been difficult.

      • by digitig (1056110)

        I'm on a waiting list to join the waiting list :(

        I might have to start looking for one of the alternatives [reghardware.com].

        • There's nothing incredibly exceptional about the RPi except its price. The alternative options (Beagleboard, Gumstix, etc.) out there are completely viable options, and for the greater expense you typically get more power and flexibility. Plus you don't have to wait 3+ months to order one.
    • by deroby (568773) <deroby@yucom.be> on Thursday May 24, 2012 @09:20AM (#40098929)

      Man, I read your first line as 'the little buggers' = the school-children ... as apparently the UK has a bit of a problem with pupils skipping school.
      That made reading the second line kind of weird !

    • Hmm, yes.

      http://img820.imageshack.us/img820/1366/raspi.jpg [imageshack.us]

      I managed to get an order in on launch day, but not for one of the first 200 units, the 1st batch which I got about 3 weeks ago.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I dunno I registered interest on both sites (farnell and RS) from two different email accounts - and I already have 2 of them and have 2 more on the way in the next week or so (already shipped)

    • I have one sitting on my desk right now. Although I ordered it on the morning of release, and it only arrive last week.
    • I've actually been invited into the queue twice so far, but haven't bit. I'm getting ready to move house so I don't want to be getting packages that'll get lost in the move. I'm also seriously considering waiting for the A model anyway.

    • You realise that when a big company like Google promises to buy a couple of crates, that guarantees the next batch and helps build economies of scale, right? Also, Google will be buying them with prebuilt cases, which is something that was left out of the first run for reasons of cost. Set up case construction to fulfill this order, and then the additional unit cost of cases for other buyers is negligible.
    • Yep, I got mine 3 weeks ago. Typically, I haven't had time to do any more than write the basic Debian install to an SD card and make sure it boots.

      Sorry.
    • by PReDiToR (687141)
      Yes, a few people [ryanteck.org.uk].

      I'm PReDiToR @ YO2, York, England.

      I can't guarantee any degree of accuracy with that map, nor can the owner of the page (thanks Ryan) because there is no verification.
    • > From all the gripes I see the problem is finding the little buggers.

      > Has anyone here actually held one in his sweaty hand?

      I registered with RS at 10am on the day of launch. They neglected to notify the mailing list that it was launching, so I was late. I finally got to order just over a week ago, and was told it should arrive within 3 weeks. I think they're close to clearing the backlog of orders, as the Pi's are now in serial production.

      By my reckoning, you should be able to order sometime next mo

  • Scrapping the existing curriculum was a good first step

    Why not continue the existing program until you develop a replacement? I'm pretty sure even a flawed program is better than none at all.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 24, 2012 @09:33AM (#40099023)

      There wasn't a previous curriculum. ICT was a Microsoft designed qualification in Office "skills". For one small assignment for my A-Levels I had to use every feature of Microsoft word in a single document. Yep, I had to use word art to get marks. It was unbearable documenting office software button by button and I gave up, turned it in half done. I got pathetic C in ICT... however I am now lead graphics programmer at an award winning games developers.

      The current curriculum's in ICT and computing, had to be scrapped immediately before they put off another generation from learning the skills they need.

      • by WillerZ (814133)

        I did a similar exam in, I guess, 1999; you could get an A+ in about 20 seconds without looking at the screen. The last sentence advised you to compare what you had done to sample.doc, so I typed:

        Ctrl+O sample.doc Enter Alt+F A .doc Enter.

        I then went through the paper to verify that there weren't any hidden extras or obvious flaws in the sample (there weren't) and delete any metadata (there was none).

        • by SimonInOz (579741)

          In 1972 I completed what would have been among the first "A" levels in Computer Science in UK. It was pretty good, ran at the local technical college, where they had an IBM 1130 with a card reader, printer and - wait for it - 4kb of main memory! We learned FORTRAN IV - and I was keen so also learned a few other languages. It was all pretty new, even exciting enough that a TV company came down and filmed some stuff (including the plotter output from one of my program - sadly I wasn't there, missing my chance

    • Scrapping the existing curriculum was a good first step

      Why not continue the existing program until you develop a replacement? I'm pretty sure even a flawed program is better than none at all.

      Because the 'existing program', in England, literally was worse than nothing. It was teaching children to use obsolete versions of Microsoft Office.

    • by Ice Tiger (10883)

      Maybe because it drives you to action sooner

    • I addition to other points, it could be valuable to scrap the current program, even if it's positive, if its cost to benefit ratio is bad enough. Think of it like this: If you have a used car and it costs $500 a month to keep it repaired but you don't have the $3000 for a down payment on a new car it could be worth it to take the bus for four or five months over the late spring through early autumn while you save up for a new car. Instead of a constant $500 a month and being late to work because it's nev

    • by Xest (935314)

      Not really, the existing programmes put people off of computing for life, which was far worse than just giving them a bad education in it.

  • "give classrooms Raspberry Pis"

    Uhm.. no thanks.

  • Meanwhile (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JoeCommodore (567479) <larry@portcommodore.com> on Thursday May 24, 2012 @09:28AM (#40098987) Homepage

    Microsoft has given engineers a new directive to get Windows running on the Raspberry Pi platform.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      With 256MB RAM?

      • by PReDiToR (687141)
        WinCE (WindowsMobile) would be happy enough in 256MB.
        I used to have a few HTC WinMo devices, helped along by the wonderful team at XDA Developers [xda-developers.com]. Maybe digging that old source code out and giving it to the community would help re-establish WinMo as a viable platform on devices like this?
    • Windows CE should work. The ARM version of Windows 8 may work with some tweaking...
  • It can't run most educational software nor children's oriented flash websites. I do not see the value in these.

    Until HTML 5 takes over they wont be that usefull and the article is looking at these as Mac and PC replacements for outdated equipment.

    • by digitig (1056110)

      It can't run most educational software nor children's oriented flash websites. I do not see the value in these.

      Until HTML 5 takes over they wont be that usefull and the article is looking at these as Mac and PC replacements for outdated equipment.

      The schools have computers that do that, and so do most of the kids. These are for teaching computer science, not web browsing 101.

    • Desktop computing is not an all-or-nothing affair. The Raspberry Pi is definitely powerful enough to run a terminal front-end.

      The last project I worked on before leaving corporate IT was to get a mixed-mode environment up and running -- some users on Wyse terminals, some on desktop PCs. The project I was on before that was maintaining a desktop suite that was backed up by specialist software on Citrix in the datacentre. The main motivation for this was so that the client didn't have to buy top-spec machin

    • Because "educational software" and "children's oriented flash websites" are not the target. The target is to get kids using Python and C. You know, computer science, not computer consumerism.

    • It can't run most educational software nor children's oriented flash websites. I do not see the value in these.

      I agree, I see no value in flash websites either.

      (quote> the article is looking at these as Mac and PC replacements for outdated equipment.

      Did you read the same article as me? I saw an article talking about using them to teach computer science. While HTML5/flash is part of computer science everything you need to know to get the principles of computer science could have been learnt on an Amiga or Zx Spectrum. The platform does not matter as long as it is hackable* and interesting**.
      *i.e. you have access t

    • by polyp2000 (444682)

      The Raspberry Pi people have made it clear that they want the initial batches of the boards in the hands of developers first and foremost.
      Guess what ? thats where 90% (i imagine!) of them are ending up at the moment. I have hopes that sort of saturation there will be a substantial amount
      of software appearing in the coming months. I also imagine that there is a ton of open source education software out there that will not be too much
      trouble to compile for ARM. There are also distro's like Edubuntu which are

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