A British game programmer has developed an interesting cheap PC that he hopes will revolutionize computer education.
The Raspberry Pi computer is a non-profit project being spearheaded by David Braben, notable for developing the “Rollercoaster Tycoon” franchise among others with his studio, Frontier Developments.
Braben has already developed a prototype of the computer, which is about the size of a USB flash drive. It has an HDMI output that can plug into a TV or monitor and a USB output to plug into a USB keyboard. It’s a complete ARM-based computer running Linux that lets you do everything you can on a full-size computer: surf the Web, tell the world what you’re up to on Twitter and Facebook, and even learn programming. The best feature is its price. It’s estimated to cost only £15, or about $25 in U.S. currency.
At this rate, Braben thinks that schools could give one to every student. Kids are learning about computers already, but what they’re mostly learning is how to write Word documents or create PowerPoint presentations. While these are fine skills, there’s so much more that children can learn how to do with computers, like learning how to program and building Web sites.
“In my day we had a subject called typing,” Braben says in a video explaining Raspberry Pi. “And that to me, is what ICT has replaced. “I’m talking about a completely different set of skills that ICT has actually ousted from schools.” He says that how computers and software actually work has been “obfuscated” by these kinds of courses in schools, even to the point where the number of students in British universities studying computer science actually dropped by about 50 percent.
Giving kids a fully functional computer to play with on their own without school IT staff restricting them “for their own good” is nothing but a good thing for promoting true computer literacy.