Programming in the Classroom

Wolfram Kahl kahl at
Wed Jul 13 18:41:30 EDT 2011

I just found the following in the ACM TechNews (

 | Raspberry Pi: Rise of the $25 Computer
 | Christian Science Monitor (07/11/11) Chris Gaylord
 | Raspberry Pi developers have created a computer designed to inspire
 | a new generation of computer programmers but inexpensive enough to
 | enable schools to give them to students for free.  The prototype could
 | lead to $25 computers designed specifically for students.  The system
 | comes with a powerful processor, a memory card reader with 32
 | gigabytes of storage, a screen connector ready for HD graphics, and up
 | to three USB ports for a keyboard and other accessories.  The system
 | also comes with open source software that can handle common Internet
 | tasks, while providing tools for users to create programs and share
 | their developments.  The developers were able to remove all of the
 | more expensive parts of typical computing systems, such as the screen
 | and keyboard, because these parts are usually already owned by users,
 | according to Raspberry Pi's David Braben.  He says the company
 | estimates that the new devices could be given to every student in
 | Britain in a particular grade for $24 million.  The group hopes to
 | partner with a corporation or nonprofit to fund the manufacturing,
 | which would keep the computers free for the students.

That article mentions open-source software,
but does not talk about hardware licensing.

However, they are targetting a niche
part of which could also be targetted by Nanonotes:
inexpensive machines on which you can actually program.

A Ben costs about as much as a typical textbook in North America ---
for an OS class, I would think about that seriously.
(For my logics classes, I am thinking about it, too,
 but with a longer horizon.)

AtBen/AtUSB may not have the reach to get from podium
directly to the last row in a large classroom,
but it might cover the classroom in a mesh network,
and teaching might make use of that by having students
``see'' in some way what is happening around them.
Does anybody know any existing work in that direction?
Does anybody see any potential roadblocks
to implementing something in that direction on Ben?


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