Back to Basics with the Raspberry Pi

RaspberryDesigned to get children back into programming, the Raspberry Pi is a small (matchbox size) computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard. Although it can be used for a lot of the stuff you use your PC for, such as spreadsheets, word processing and games, it’s been developed by a charity to encourage kids to learn to programme.

Eben Upton, founder of the little computer, set about designing it because of the declining capabilities he saw in new students wanting to take up Computer Science whilst he was teaching at the University of Cambridge.

Today’s computers have made technology accessible to all, but on the flip side it has made up increasingly reliant on the microchip and even more ignorant about how it works.

The reasoning behind the Raspberry Pi is to open up the world of electronics and programming to a whole new generation.

In an interview with PC Pro, Eben Upton said:

“When I was [at the University of Cambridge] as a student in the mid-1990s, the typical skillset that undergraduates came through the door with would be assembly language, maybe a bit of C, BASIC and a certain amount of hardware hacking.

The big problem has been that people used to learn the stuff off their own back – you used to have hardware that you could hack on and that’s a big problem

By the time I was actually interviewing, ten years later, that had changed to mostly HTML from people who had done a web page and the really good ones would maybe have done PHP – you’d get the occasional exception, but the skills have declined…

The move from very open platforms to completely closed platforms is a real issue – iPods and games consoles are closed and PC platforms are open, but have a very big barrier between you and being able to write a program for it.”

So, will it bring the technology a new generation of programmers? Only time will tell.

Do you have a Raspberry Pi? Perhaps you’ve also seen a shift in the knowledge of students? If so, leave a comment below and share your opinions.

Is Your Child’s IT Future Suffering?

school computers

There is no doubt that IT provision (and teaching) in schools has come a long way over the years.

Today, even some pre-schools have computers allowing the next generation to get to grips with technology from a very young age.

By the time our kids get to Primary School they’re already running rings around us when it comes to IT.

But, with today’s budget cuts, are our children really getting the tuition they need?

Historically our schools have invested in the latest IT equipment to help our children get to grips with the technological age. By instilling knowledge and confidence in computers from a young age, the age of the techno-phobe could be coming to an end.

But in this time of austerity budgets have to be cut and it would appear as though the IT department is being hit. Many of our children are now left floundering having to use IT equipment that is well and truly past its sell by date.

Recent research from Equanet (which sells into the education market) has shown that out of the 1,400 ICT school managers it asked, 41% revealed that the PCs used by their children were 5 years old or more. With 68% revealing their budgets had been cut by at least half of the levels seen in 2010.

What’s more, this looks set to worsen as more budget cuts will have to be made over the next few years. A worrying prospect that could hold back student development:

Cutting ICT budgets first is a very short sighted approach: students have become accustomed to using the latest technologies on their home PCs and even on their phones, so it’s increasingly difficult to engage with students if the technology at schools is more than five years old.” Paul Birbeck, Managing Director of Equanet.

We all know that budget cuts have to be made but short-sighted decisions could have a vast impact for years to come.

Information technology is a rapidly evolving area and one that we all have to keep up with if we are to remain competitive in the marketplace – be that in the business arena or jobs market.

Have you noticed an impact in your children’s school? If so please leave a comment below and have your say.

Author: MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.