The low-cost Raspberry Pi computer, which created a surge of interest and has been ordered in vast quantities, should not be automatically given to every pupil and student in the UK. So says Eben Upton, one of the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s co-founders.
Given its concept as an educational device, combined with its cheap price, it is certainly an attractive idea to hand them out en mass to schools and colleges. Talking at a Westminster eForum event this week on the ICT curriculum, Ian Livingstone (president of Eidos and the co-author of new report into ICT in education), said that a Raspberry Pi ought to be given to every student in the UK; ideally two, one for home and one at school.
However, at the same eForum, Upton responded, “I’m actually really conflicted about that. On some levels that seems like a really great idea. On the other hand, I think we’re really much more about providing people with the opportunity to have one, rather than shoving it down their throats. I think we’d almost lose something if we did that.”
Academics and representatives from the technology industry are looking at ways to encourage students back into computer science. According to Upton, the main aim of the Raspberry Pi is simply to get a highly affordable and programmable computer board into people’s hands for them to experiment with.
“This is just a computer, it doesn’t come with some approach to teaching,” he added. “We’re just trying to provide options. If you break the household PC, it’s like breaking the family car. We’re trying to provide a platform that children can own. Kids don’t have cheap programmable hardware in their bedrooms the same way as they did in the 80s.”
Upton’s suggestion is that computing should be taught like music, with a few hours of teaching followed by self-guided time at home.
The charitable foundation behind the computer also reports that 50,000 units have shipped so far, with 200,000 following in the next month and a target of half a million delivered by September.
Via PC Pro