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back to article Google donates 15,000 Raspberry Pis to UK schools

Google has donated of 15,000 Raspberry Pi Model Bs to the Raspberry Pi Foundation. At list price of £25.92, that’s a £ 388,800 gift and one that the Foundation says, in a blog post, represents a “… really good sign … that industry has a visible commitment now to trying to solve the problem of CS education in the UK.” “Grants …

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@Mint Sauce

It was proper tin/lead solder in those days, with smoke from the flux cores that made your eyes water, not the modern lead-free rubbish they use nowadays. Ah, happy memories.

(I still have a half full reel of Ersin 60/40 22swg flux cored solder, in case any electronics soldering is needed.)

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Meh

I can't help but think this is being done because people are starting to hate Google. They need to do something to raise their profile and image to the public. This seems to be the latest way of doing that.

Give me the child, and I will take all his personal info and sell him targeted advertising for the rest of his life, etc.

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Not necessarily.

True, Google has had bit of a booting over tax recently (though I have to admire their honesty over it!) but they have been supporting computing based activities in the UK for quite some time - look at their support for Bletchley Park.

While this can be seen as trying gain some good publicity after bad, I do think this is honestly meant by Google.

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Pirate

Google Pi

I wonder if Google is hoping to get Android on it so school kids can start producing apps for Android instead?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Google Pi

Android is coming to Pi with an official distribution very soon apparently. So its entirely possible that the 15,000 Pi's is only part of the announcement - or maybe the only part of the deal that google wants people to know about.

What confuses me is why only 15000? Google could have bought 3x that without it really even being noticable on their balance sheet. Then they'd be getting close to having enough for schools to set up whole Pi labs with two kids sharing a Pi to work on stuff together. They'd be able to tick off teaching so manyy things - linux/android, basic electronics, various levels of programming, practicle lessons in agile development.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Google Pi

"@Captain Scarlet, I think it's a ploy to ween kids off the unhealthy MS Windows / Office crack. MS give away windows to schools to get kids hooked."

You really do blubber on about MS don't you? The Pi is meant as a cheap and easily fixable technology teaching tool. Specifically to teach programming and low level operating system stuff, i.e. to encourage tinkering and exploration. Despite being capable of running office software, it has never been intended to be used as a desktop PC.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Raspberry Pi is the best thing to happen in 10 years

"MS crap taught to kids in schools as if it were somehow not bad for their brains."

There is this little thing called balance. While I agree the Linux is by far a better OS for teaching computing and is just as usable in a business environment; the simple fact is Microsoft software is more heavily used in said environments and having knowledge of Microsoft software is beneficial.

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Stop

Re: @Eadon

Eadon, please stop abusing that icon. You rarely have anything "technical" to say. It's bordering on RICHTO's abuse of the "Eat this" icon.

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Anonymous Coward

The elephant in the room

If a teacher really wanted to teach programming in the classroom, loading Scratch onto their existing PCs would be quicker, less-complicated and cheaper than buying Raspberry Pis, configuring them, unplugging their keyboards and mice, and somehow connecting up their probably-non-hdmi-monitors.

If its programming we want to address, it's the will of the teacher that needs addressing, not the availability of hardware.

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Re: The elephant in the room

Programming is all very well, but an understanding of the hardware can only be beneficial to education.

In the old days half the learning experience was when you took the top off PETs/C64s/Beebs/etc.

The Pi is a cracking platform for learning about both hard and software at a good level of complexity.

Unlike a PC.

Agree with the need to win over teachers. It is they who do the educating, after all.

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Re: The elephant in the room

Learning about hardware? What, exactly, are children going to learn about hardware from staring at the case of a Raspberry Pi, or even at its insides? Except, maybe, that driving an ethernet port from a usb chip is a really stupid thing to do.

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Re: The elephant in the room

Too true...I had the advantage/experience of learning this stuff in the Nascom days where when they said 'learn from first principles' they were talking about junction level. It sets in place good practice for coding and the like as you understand what you are trying to achieve and lets you head that way rather than the more 'lego brick' approach of code libraries which can also get you there but with bundles of fluff added.

Not that I am saying you cannot do it without knowing the nuts and bolts. To use a metaphor here you can drive a car without knowing the design and construction of an internal combustion engine but you are less likely to run into problems if you can appreciate how your inputs are being handled.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The elephant in the room

Wow you really dont like Raspberry Pi's do you??!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The elephant in the room

Although I own a Pi and think they're great, I believe most schools already have the hardware they need to teach programming. And it's not as if Scratch, Python, or any "real" programming language has a purchase cost... They have a cost of needing to employ someone with the appropriate experience to be able to teach their use.

Additionally, I'd go as far as to say that if hardware hacking is what is really wanted, a bunch of arduinos could be used with existing computers, and these have better I/O functionality than a Pi. Or for really simple stuff, there's a USB lego motor controller available that's compatible with scratch.

And, as a final thought, the PTA at my child's *infant* school is determined to buy a class worth of ipads... The mind boggles as to why kids that young need them, and my money is on at least one getting dropped and broken within a week of them arriving, or them getting locked in a cupboard and brought out once a term.

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Re: The elephant in the room

I'm not convinced by the hype and I am unimpressed by people who know stuff all about education and attempt to tell the education world what it needs. The Pi itself? Well, it seems a reasonable if rather weak solution to a problem which I don;t think anyone has defined. I'll probably buy one, after they have got them working properly.

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Re: The elephant in the room

Kids and schools already have low cost tools to learn about hardware; Arduino, Genie, PICAXE, Stamp and other microcontroller systems are widely used for that. The Raspberry Pi is actually far less robust for interfacing than any of those with a Gertboard or similar being essential to bring it to the same level of robustness.

That's not to say the Pi isn't a welcome addition but it does seem most people hyping how the Pi will revolutionise education have no idea about what is already being used in schools for teaching students. It's perhaps worth noting that the near £400K gift is buying 15,000 Pi computers where it could have instead bought more than a quarter million micro controller kits.

The main thing is not what kit schools and students are using but what teaching materials, help and assistance there is for that kit. In that respect the Foundation has a long way to go in catching up with the established players.

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Re: The elephant in the room

@ Jason.

Some points are right, but with Arduino etc you have to have another PC to code and program them. This isn't necessary with the Raspi. So you need to add that cost in (in those case where another PC isn't available) Raspi's are also much more versatile - not yet seen an Arduino running Libreoffice or a browser, or running a LAMP stack or serving up webcam images to the internet. Not to say Arduino's are not good bits of kit - they are great for their target market.

If you listen to Eben Upton talking about the gestation of the Raspi - it's was aimed at filling a void that Arduino's are their ilk had failed to fill, and if nothing else, the Raspi has opened people eyes to the sorry state of ICT teaching in the UK. Arduino et al hadn't done that, despite being available for some time before the Raspi was launched.

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Anonymous Coward

PR damage tax-dodging limitation stunt

tax-deductible, no doubt

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Re: PR damage tax-dodging limitation stunt

Actually, this deal had been in the offing well before the tax issue reared its head.

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alot of the schools around my area buy lots of Ipads (despite being strapped for cash) so kids are taught alot about media consumption, i think it is a great idea to fill schools IT departments up with these things, the amount of kids that are still coming out of school into an office environment that have very poor IT skills is ridiculous.

In my school, our IT lessons consisted in how to use MS office and we had to follow specific instructions. I can safely say that I learnt nothing about computers in school.

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Anonymous Coward

Office environment?

So you think the job of schools is train little apprentices to work with computers for the office or factory? I rather thought the job of schools was to educate children, so that when they are ready they can choose a job and train for that job and use the education outside work too. With a good education, they have got options. If they are just apprentices, they are committed to some education authority's idea of what workers the state will need.

Industry should accept that it must train its entrants and can reasonably demand just a good educational level for its recruits. Then, as work changes, the worker can retrain and adapt. With a bad education, just a training in today's ideas of computers (MS office packages? Google equivalents? Raspberry Pi hardware design?) or car engines or house painting will make that little worker not just bored stupid; he or she will also be redundant by the time he is forty.

Personally, after thirty years of "heavy" software engineering, systems administration and support and so on, I think informatics, for the vast majority, is a thinly disguised version of working on a factory conveyor belt with even less job security or satisfaction and ever less financial reward.

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Happy

It's the classic 'give a man a fish' v 'teach him to fish' scenario, and in this case Google has it dead right. Unlike the MS baitware there is no restriction on what OS or software you run on the Pi.

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See a Pi running Windows, yet? Or OSX? Or iOS?

I think the Pi has some great strengths and possibilities, but they are nothing whatsoever to do with school education, for which they are a stupid, ill-thought-out idea. The strengths are in encouraging programmers to develop interesting standalone applications for them, and for bringing some coherence to the fragmented single board titchy computer market.

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Fish analogies

Or, to put it in terms without using the nasty word "give" that corporations don't like very much:

Sell a person a fish, and you have sold one fish.

Sell a person a course of fishing lessons, and you can keep on selling them expensive proprietary bait and tackle for the rest of their life.

What about teaching a person to fish for free, and calling it a charitable donation? You can claim back the VAT they would have paid on the fishing lessons -- plus you still get to keep on selling them expensive proprietary bait and tackle for the rest of their life. Especially if you successfully convinced them in the first lesson that the generic bait and tackle available anywhere were too hard to use, or wouldn't catch all the kinds of fish they wanted. That actually begins to look like something you can build a business model on (if you don't think about it for long enough to realise that they can live quite happily without you).

But the Raspberry Pi fishing lessons explicitly include alternative techniques that don't depend on the use of expensive proprietary bait and tackle -- they even include demonstrations of how to fashion a fishing rod from a sapling and tie your own flies! The thought of people enjoying successful fishing with homemade tackle and found bait is filling the proprietary vendors -- and to an extent, the people who clean their offices and sell sandwiches to the workers there -- with dread.

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Anonymous Coward

Hmm...

My parents are both teachers and this sort of thing, which you would think would be gratefully received tends to be a bit of a double edged sword. Very much like the Tesco computers for schools programme, it will require far more effort from the teachers than you'd expect.

In this case what's happened is that Google have got some pretty good advertising but:

1) There are (as far as I can tell) no monitors or keyboards, or mice, possibly even no PSUs supplied.

2) There is no training for teachers supplied - this will have to be done on the teachers' own time (not entirely popular, considering how much overtime teachers already do)

3) There is no kitting out of particular rooms to handle the r-Pi class sets

4) There is no network infrastructure supplied

5) It's not clear if there is any educational material supplied and if there is, if it's suitable

6) There is no space in the curriculum to insert new classes, so it's highly likely that just a few kids who can stay after school will be able to get any use of them. Also note: Most kids who live a bus ride away from school can no-longer stay after school because they have to get the school bus, not a normal passenger bug.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmm...

The comments on the pi blog article cover a lot of this.

Seems the Pi's will go to students(kids) rather than schools, intended for use in after schools clubs. Also sounds like there are lots of organisations involved with all aspects from producing the education material right through to providing free CRB checks for people wanting to volunteer to help at after schools clubs.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmm...

" students(kids)": there is an excellent, English word for these: pupils or, in case you get confused with trainee lawyers, school pupils. Not so trendy but much more precise.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmm...

A Student is someone who is studying, usually in a school. A pupil is someone who is under close supervision of a teacher.

I'd say that investigating new hardware would be more of a student type activity, rather than a pupil's activity.

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Facepalm

@AC 09:59 - Re: Hmm...

Wrote :-

"In this case what's happened is that Google have got some pretty good advertising but:

1) There are (as far as I can tell) no monitors or keyboards, or mice, possibly even no PSUs supplied.

2) There is no training for teachers supplied

[etc .....etc ..... etc]"

You must be a blast to give Xmas presents. I give you a camera and you say :-

"Nice, but

1) There is no PC with it to edit my pictures.

2) There is no training provided.

3) I get no paid house extension to provide a studio and editing room.

4) There are no alternative lenses, case, tripod, flash unit etc etc

5) No insurance provided.

6) I do not have the time to use it."

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Go

Great PR stunt

But i will only salute Google when they sponsor an academy, this may seem unfair but I believe a dedicated learning environment and adequate IT teaching will show the true potential of what children + pi can achieve.

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Anonymous Coward

"Pi's will go to students(kids) rather than schools"

"Pi's will go to students(kids) rather than schools"

Bears repeating, since so few people here seem to "get it".

Thank you for actually bothering with the details of the announcement. If only those commentards that went off to find out how many schools there are had checked the details too before spewing over their keyboards with (number of Pies)/(number of schools) in an entirely irrelevant way.

Still, El Reg's headine is to blame, at least in part.

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WTF?

Re: "Pi's will go to students(kids) rather than schools"

Are we supposed to be impressed that rather than giving four or five Pis to every state secondary school in England, they are actually giving one each to 0.25% of secondary age children in England?

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Vic
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Re: "Pi's will go to students(kids) rather than schools"

> Are we supposed to be impressed that ... they are actually giving one each to 0.25% of secondary age children

Yes.

Unless you can beat that, of course.

Vic.

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Anonymous Coward

Why computers at all?

1. Re the size of the donation: do not look a gift horse in the mouth.

2. I rather think schools should be better at teaching the basics: how to read and understand; how to write even without a keyboards, in a clear, grammatical and logical manner; how to do basic arithmetic correctly and accurately, followed by some algebra and geometry, without using a computer to hide the nitty gritty of how and why; how to solve problems (analysis and solution).

Having achieved the basics to a fair standard, then introduce computing as a serious tool, now that the pupil is sufficiently educated to question its results and understand what it is doing and to understand that there is a life, even a productive, working life even when the machine stops.

No need to prattle on about ignorant teachers: most of them are in the same age range as you, with the same social and educational background. Computing in some form has been around longer than most of you, even PCs and similar, so you can take it that the teachers of almost any age have either grown up with them or at least used them in their teacher training colleges/universities and later. Just because some child can press the keys fast and knows a few tricks does not mean that child is a computer expert and the teacher is a fool.

I am not a teacher and I am a computer expert.

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WTF?

Derr...

It's called marketing, people!

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Far be it for me to bring in some facts...

1) The Pi's do not go directly to schools - too much chance of being left in the cupboard. They are being specifically targeted to individuals via CodeDojo's code clubs etc. ie People who WILL appreciate them.

2) The Google cash is going to the Raspberry Pi foundation, who will use it to pay for the equipment, PLUS employing someone to go round schools and help with educational outreach - the guy is an ex-teacher, and knows his stuff.

3) Total Google cash is actually close to $1M, and approximates to $50 per pupil/student/child. So that's a Raspi, case, cables and SD card. Everything they need to get going.

As far as I know, Google have not made any provisos re: the cash and what goes on the devices. So no advertising etc. This is a straight up donation for educational purposes. And, yes, it is good advertising for Google, but its also a MILLION DOLLARS donated that they didn't need to give. And note - it's in the UK, not the USA, which some would regard as Google home turf.

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Re: Far be it for me to bring in some facts...

That sounds much more promising, and much more realistic than some of the ideas floating around.

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Better value than Ipads

This is financially and educationally much better value than that silly idea of handing out Ipads.

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Facepalm

The number of posts COMPLAINING about this

Makes me worry for the future of humanity.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The number of posts COMPLAINING about this

I agree, all charity is for some benefit, even if that is just a warm fuzzy feeling on a personal level. Since a company can't have a warm fuzzy feeling, why not be motivated by a bit of positive advertising, it's better than not giving to charity at all.

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Facepalm

Donating 15000 to schools...

Yet another thing that Ms Stob failed to think of doing with RaspPis.

She must be really kicking herself now.

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Anonymous Coward

Getting children interested in Programming and Electronics

Children would be more interested in programming Android phone apps and making Robots with Microchips PIC micro-controller. Programming the PIC micro-controller in C is quite easy and the skills are transferable.

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Anonymous Coward

Programming Stamps from Parallax with PBasic is fine for children under 12. Children would lean the ability of writing algorithms. For older students 14+ yrs learning basic C and controlling a micro-controler is not too difficult.

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Reality check, this is a good thing!!

Damned if you do, damned if you don't, huh? sigh

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Look at the numbers another way

Average class size :20 kids

15000 / 20 = 750

That's 750 schools that could have one classroom with enough RPis in it for every kid to have one each. that's a lot of schools!

My biggest concern is the fact that the foundation have claimed this donation allows them to hire some new executron, does this mean the donation is just a pile of money to the value of 15,000 pis that the foundation can waste as it pleases, or will this actually lead to 15,000 new devices in schools?

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Net loss

Now if only the RaspberryPi wasn't so glitchy and unstable, it would be a benefit. I foresee hours and hours of wasted time because of hunting for bugs that don't exist (at least not in the student's code)

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