All rights reserved by Foodbyte
I was lucky enough to receive a new Raspberry Pi this week after ordering it a few months ago. I’m not one to gloat about anything but I got a few envious replies on twitter from a few people. So with a welcome break on the horizon I looked forward to getting the little devil up and running.
I’ve read with interest, numerous articles about the Pi being the future of technology and also most notably the future of ICT / Computing teaching. Before I explore these in a little detail, I think it’s useful to just document the set up of the Pi.
In terms of hardware I ordered mine from http://uk.farnell.com/ A few months ago. I opted to go without the SD card so I received only the Pi itself
Additional hardware required to get the little thing up and running consisted of:
Mobile phone charger
In my case I opted for a USB hub to free up one of the USB slots (hopefully this will make sense later in another post).
One downside is that the only compatible “monitor” in my flat is my LCD tv which is fine but I needed to acquire a longer ethernet cable in order to reach the Wireless router located in my hallway.
There are a number of starter guides for the Pi and some others may find useful
Before plugging everything in and powering up, I downloaded the PI OS from And then used Windows Image installer to write the OS to the Flash SD card. Not as easy as it sounds especially when in school with the inability to download or run exe files but once home everything worked finally in the end.
All good to go and fired up, my 8 year old and I sat and waited for the bios screen to kick in and of course it did. In the first instance the keyboard and mouse were not recognised but @sharland had encountered the same issue so we removed, rebooted and then reinstalled.
This then prompted for a username and password. The documentation i saw gave me one to try but with a bit trial and error using raspberry as the password and pi as the username, things began to move along. Excitedly my son expected to see a GUI interface straight away but was very excited to write his first line of code startx which kicked in the GUI.
This is the finished result proudly displayed on my TV
I’ve tried to assess the PI from a few different perspectives. Mainly and foremost from an ICT perspective. In terms of providing students with affordable hardware and giving the opportunity to build something it is ideal. Of course this is you can get hold of one. With all the hype surrounding the Pi from Gove to Schmidt the demand has been very higher with one person remarking that they had registered there interest but found they were 600,000 in the queue with one retailer. This is a massive issue for schools who are looking to get things moving in the short term. We are looking to pilot GCSE computing from September and a set of 15 of these would be ideal but we are very unlikely to receive them in time. Of course there are alternatives on the market and more on the way.
In giving students the opportunity to experience computing first hand the PI is ideal with the opportunity to code using Python and other interfaces.
From the point of view of my 8 year old his initial excitement was dulled by the inability to watch IPlayer and play flash games on his favourite site Friv. This of course is not what the Pi is designed for and I would argue is it a multimedia device for streaming content or using in classrooms for anything other than coding and learning UI such as multimedia and graphics creation.
So has this experience dampened my initial excitement about the Pi? The answer would be a firm no. It has given me more impetus to refresh my programming skills, get to grips with python again and try a few ideas we could use the Pi in the classroom. Do I think they will replace PCs in the classroom? No. There is still a place for both IMHO. Are they a solution for other subject areas? No. Will it revolutionise ICT teaching? No but it is a very useful tool to add to the toolkit when teaching Computing / ICT / #digitalstudies.
These are only a few initial observations and I will hopefully have a few more as I get more chance to try out a few things. There have been other blog posts about the Raspberry Pi including
And a response to this
So if you’ve been lucky to get hold of a Raspberry Pi what do you think? Is this the right flavour for #ictcurric?