Google has just announced that it is to donate over 15,000 microcomputers to schools across the United Kingdom and Ireland (check this) . They have set up an organisation called the Raspberry Pi Foundation which is donating the innovative Raspberry Pi mini computer. They hope to inspire the younger generation into careers as programmers, developers and other technology areas.
The Raspberry Pi is a wonderful little invention which has already been extremely successful.
It’s basically just a pared down computer sold on a card no bigger than your credit card for a cut down price. It has a tiny CPU, 256 MB Ram and even a Video GPU. It’s probably similar to a Pentium 3 in todays processing power, but obviously needs external disk drives, monitors and other peripherals.
The idea is that the device is cheap and affordable and helps people learn more about the technology underlying modern day computers. The problems today’s younger generations have is that although they are adept at using the latest technology, they rarely understand it. When I grew up computers were much harder to use, you had to have some programming knowledge to get them to work. The hours spent typing in computer programs was tedious at times but at least you learnt something.
The Raspberry Pi isn’t meant to be a powerhouse of a computer, raw processing power is to some extent irrelevant. It’s a technological building block which can be used at the centre of any number of IT projects. In some senses it reminds me of the Arduino kits which are relatively sophisticated electronic kits, a step up from the old meccano and lego kits from earlier times.
So what are the sort of projects people are using the Raspberry Pi’s for ? Well of course the most obvious is to build it into a large full sized computer. Other projects ideas include using it at the core of a home automation system, smart TVs for the BBC and many people use them to create retro gaming machines. Others are linking them to devices on the web to create various Bots and even proxies too. There’s literally no end to the possibilities that this little device can be used from to learn and create at the same time.
Of course this generous donation won’t be much use without specialist teachers who can use these devices in their classrooms. Fortunately Google is also sponsoring some ICT Teacher training also as part of this release. The standard of ICT teaching in the UK has been very limited, mainly restricted to using applications rather than any programming or network skills. My own son informed me his own teacher had little knowledge outside spreadsheets and word processors. He would have to look up information is anything like programming, macros, or this site to check on proxies – http://thenewproxies.com/ or other networking information.
Using computers and modern technology to help disadvantaged youths have a better chance in life and understand the consequences of anti social behaviour is an idea that can really make a difference.
Getting the funding to take group trips and other such things is beyond the means of most programmes so being able to let people ’see the world’ through the computer screen and get an idea of different cultures as well as seeing places that they can aspire to get to. Seeing areas of natural beauty can also show what antisocial behaviour, littering and pollution might effect.
Being able to see these things and having the opportunity to broaden their horizons can inspire and influence positive change and give these people the opportunity to choose the right paths in life and avoid situations that may present themselves that could ruin their lives. By educating the youth in this manner they can have a positive effect on their peers hopefully creating a knock on effect of better attitudes.
Such sites as this here accessible with an advanced proxy service of some type, help to show that with hard work and the right attitude you can get to places like this and get a good job. It also helps to promote the idea of getting out into the country and living a more active lifestyle which can lead to better long term health for them as well.
Travelling and Exploring Online Can Be Fun
The internet has transformed the way we can explore the planet. For those who where without the means to jump on airplanes, learning about distant lands was restricted to books and TV. Although these are obviously a great form of education too, there’s now some amazing options available online in comparison. Many schools in the UK even supplement their teaching through the resources. For example the BBC’s educational resources are invaluable particularly the Bite Size site which mirrors much of the UK schools curriculum. Unfortunately much of this is only available in the UK, though you can use a VPN to fool the BBC of your location which works fine in 2021.
There’s another resource which is arguably the most impressive educational resource ever created though – most amazing site – Google Earth
It’s described as the world’s most detailed globe, a bold claim that in truth comes nowhere near to describing this wonderful resource. Not only can you select, spin and explore the planet from a computer screen – you can in fact almost walk the streets, roads and paths themselves. Most developed locations, you can even zoom into something called Street view level where you can do a virtual walk around the area. The picture below is the zoom level above this, but is great for picking specific locations – here’s a random zoom in on Mzilikazi school in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
Obviously this has the potential to make subjects like Geography and History much more interesting. You can zoom in and examine the exact places or location all over the planet. Remember it’s entirely free, although you can buy special access and it works fine anywhere without the need for any sort of elite proxy or VPN.
The initial cost for the technology to do this can be affordable by shopping about, getting deals and looking for reconditioned computers so is manageable as a solution for antisocial behaviour and helping disadvantaged youths.