IT Wire reporter, Sam Varghese, recently wrote about how Sugar Labs tries to pick up the pieces now that its fully spun out of One Laptop Per Child. In his article, he chose to highlight a question posed to Walter Bender at LCA2009, Australia's premier Linux conference:
When Martin Krafft, a senior Debian developer, asked him, "have you asked the kids whether they want to learn this way?" Bender danced around the question. When I reminded him that he had not answered Krafft, he ducked once again. A third attempt to ask him was nipped in the bud by the conference organisers who announced that the time limit for his talk had been reached.
What an interesting yet foolish question. It supposes that children have the faculties to assess the learning performance of competing pedagogy and the software that supports it. Kinda hard when you're a 5 year old. I think better questions, all still unanswered are:
- Does computer technology increase learning outcomes?
- Is that increase greater than other options for the same resource investment?
- Of computer technology options, does Sugar help children learn better than others?
Each of these has a greater impact on the trajectory of the Sugar Learning Platform, and the use of computer technology in education in general, than posing impossible questions to Walter.
Oh and while we're asking Walter questions, what questions about Sugar do you have?