Recently the ICT department in the school where I work purchased a Raspberry Pi and said ‘have a play’. The school I work for is a private school for children aged from 3 months to 11 years. The school already has ICT rooms each with 20 windows computers and all the classrooms are fitted with a computer with an interactive white board.
After booting into the Raspberry’s desktop I found various applications. An application called Scratch is already used in our school on the Windows computers. It’s a program for gaining the basics of programming using a system of programming blocks, similar to Lego. The Open University also use a variation of Scratch but this is called Sense and is used in conduction with an I/O board.
Another programming application is also on the Raspberry Pi, this is called Python, this again is available on the Windows OS the same as Scratch. Python aimed at the more proficient programmer. It is also a cross platform programming language.
There are other programs on the Pi such as a web browser but I really think the schools computers can do a lot more. I suppose if the school was to offer these small computers as loans to students without access to a PC at home then that might make more sense. They could carry on their programming work at home using the files they constructed at school. They could even be end of term prizes for the different school houses.
I love the Raspberry Pi it’s like having a ZX81 again but with so many PCs around me now it’s hard to find a use for it. Maybe if computers were not so cheap the Raspberry might be a viable alternative but most children have laptops now. Utilising the Raspberry Pi inside schools also seems false economy with all the PCs at their disposal.
What the Raspberry Pi does have is a very cool image unlike a Windows PC. It’s the new must have gadget, but hopefully it will hook children enough to learn how to program. Like the ZX81 did for me with the Basic Programming language. I’d be interested in people’s views on the subject as in know the Raspberry Pi can be put to many uses. I just may haven’t found the right applicable for it yet in school.