24 June 2009

Sugar on a Stick v1 Strawberry is Out

Although I've been sceptical of the OLPC project, not least because of its ridiculous decision to offer a Windows XP version - putting them in thrall to a US monopolist is really good way to "help" the developing world, people - I'm a big fan of the GNU/Linux-based Sugar Learning platform. I'm also a big fan of using USB sticks as a way of providing complete software solutions based on GNU/Linux. So it should come as no surprise that I think this is fab:

Sugar Labs, nonprofit provider of the Sugar Learning Platform to over one-million children worldwide, announces the immediate availability of Sugar on a Stick v1 Strawberry. Available free for download at www.sugarlabs.org, Sugar on a Stick can be loaded onto an ordinary 1GB USB flash drive and used to reboot any PC or netbook directly into the award-winning Sugar environment. It runs on recent Macs with a helper CD and in Windows using virtualization. Sugar on a Stick is designed to work with a School Server that can provide content distribution, homework collection, backup services, Moodle integration, and filtered access to the Internet. Today’s Strawberry release is meant for classroom testing; feedback will be incorporated into the next version, available towards the end of 2009.


Learning Activities are at the heart of Sugar. Sugar on a Stick includes 40 Activities to interest young learners such as Read, Write, Paint, and Etoys. Hundreds more Activities are available free for download at the Sugar Activity Library. Most “Sugarized” Activities have student collaboration built-in; students and teachers work, play, and learn on the same Activities together. The Sugar Learning Platform is open, so by leveraging the work of other open source projects, existing software for children can be integrated; for example, the acclaimed GCompris suite of 100 Activities developed over the past five years by Bruno Coudoin was recently added to Sugar, including Activities such as Chess, Geography, and Sudoku. Teachers and parents interested in Sugar’s Activities and its modern interface for children can watch short videos on the recently opened Sugar Labs Dailymotion channel.

Note that this is a great way to (a) use old PCs (b) provide educational materials in a single package for free (c) to avoid security issues associated with Windows. What's not to like?

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