Wednesday, March 07, 2012

The Raspberry Pi

If you don't know what the Raspberry Pi (RPi) is - read it up here

The RPi is indeed an excellent and exciting development in the computing field. To me it seems that, many of the references to RPi, take a very narrow view of what the RPi actually is and what it can do. IMO, this can limit the authors' and the readers' understanding of RPi in the context of the extended journey of learning with the RPi.

To understand the profound impact RPi can have on computing, we need to understand the different meanings the word computer can take as well as the role the RPi it can play in nurturing a step by step exploration and understanding of computing.

For many, a 'computer' is a device that has a keyboard, a monitor, a CPU, a mouse and an operating system (mostly Windows). Within this context, you can use the computer to play games, browse the internet, connect with friends over email, IM and FB,

The RPi partially falls into this category.  You can connect a keyboard, a mouse and a monitor to the RPi, it has an OS with a GUI and it can be used to play games and write simple programs. If connected to the network (cable/WiFi), it can also be used to browse the Internet. Using sites may be dependent on the capability of the installed browser. .

My watch is also a computer. It can tell me the atmospheric pressure, altutide, my location using the GPS and change the time based on the country I am in. This is also a computer.  The washer-dryer at home can also be classified as a computing device (it does a lot of work!). I have another computer with me - sitting on my desktop, a small car which can be controlled from your smartphone. This is also a computing device - albeit a very small one.

The RPi, is also not any ordinary computer.  It is a computing device with phenomenal power and flexibility.

For the 9-11 year old, it is a device on which he/she can work on Scratch - one of the favourite tools used by kids to create 'cool'  programs. This child can also watch videos on it.  The device with all the circuits visible - also lends itself to the 'cool' factor of using something and being able to see what it is made up of - unlike a computer or a PS3 or an XBOX.

For the 12 to 15 year old, it a device on which he she/can use to program using languages such as Python and create applications that solve some real-world problems.

It is beyond this domain that the RPi 'computer' takes on a totally different meaning. It becomes a computing device/a computing board which can do things as per your command and wish. Attach external devices such as motors, sensors, cameras and suddenly this simple 'computer' can be transformed into a programmable toy. Just like the Lego Mindstorms ( I could never afford one!), this board can also interface with different devices,  - which can transform my commands and wishes into actionable. It will not be long before someone creates a robot out of this and we have an RPi robot contest ... and other events associated with the RPi. This will only be limited by people's imagination (and of course the processing power and the accessories available/developed for the RPi).

It has a slice for everyone, for the cool one, for the nerdy one, for the simple one, and that is what makes the RPi different. and most importantly - at £30 - it is mighty affordable. I already have an old monitor, keyboard and mouse lying around the house (I am sure may people have that), and that makes it very affordable.

The delivery date for my RPi is 30/04 - a long wait ... but I am sure that, in the meanwhile, we should hear a lot of information from the people who recieve the first and the second lot of RPi's

It may not be right to compare it to the BBC Micro/Spectrum etc. They spawned a different generation of programmers at a different  time - with its own constraints. Now, this is a different time and the RPi, provides the right tool for this new generation of learners - for those who want to but were not allowed to tinker with the home computer for fear of breaking a £400 'computer'.

Here's a +1 for the new computing revolution.

PS: Some of this is unvalidated information and is based on available news. I will have to wait till 30/04 for my piece of the pie - to satiate my hunger!

Friday, March 02, 2012


Watch this video. I will write about it in another post.

and a related presentation from SlideShare
The 70:20:10 Framework
View more presentations from Charles Jennings

Monday, February 06, 2012

Organizational Objectives

I cannot believe this. In this data focussed, technology enabled, networked, linked world, there are organisations and their employees who work without defined objectives, KPA/KPI, or focus areas. The only focus defined is 'do what I ask you to!' The tasks are handled ad-hoc and all tasks are transactional.

No, it is not that each organisation needs to have KPI/KPAs based on BSC (Balanced Scorecard) or any other concept ... but even having a defined vision/mission for the organization, conveying it to your employees to create a shared vision (don't expect your employess to read your mind!) is a very powerful tool to create a very dynamic organization.

Yes, in such a dynamic world, the goalposts will constantly change. It is only a leaders' shared vision that will carry the organization forward at all times - even troubled times.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Social Learning: Back to Basics - supported by technology

Long time ago, before there was industrialization, and children were put through another set of conveyor belts named 'school', 'college', 'university' etc, learning was always social. Learning was in the fields, on the streets, with friends - doing things that children enjoyed. It was the same for adults as well.

Even with the conveyor belt generation, learning was best when done with friends ... when it was informal and that is what social learning is - in its simplest form!

But once on the conveyor belt, someone else developed the curriculum for me, someone else scheduled it for me, and someone else decided when it was complete and gave me a bouquet or a brickbat at the end of it! Social was pushed into a corner and left there. When people did pick up on the social, it was deride and pushed back into a corner again. There was no individual. All people on the conveyor belt had to behave in the same way and learn the same things.

This same behaviour was carried into the workplace, where formal learning was in classrooms with a trainer ... and with technology came CBTs and eLearning. But again, social was left out in the corner.

Only the high performing teams and organizations realized the importance of social and designed their training sessions as social interactions where it was not a 'trainer' in front of the classroom but a 'facilitator'. Yes, the facilitator facilitated the sharing and learning among the group.

With the advent of technology, this sharing has become much more easier ... and more prolific. Technology has broken the boundaries by which sharing was constrained in the old days. With the electronic tools available at our disposal - emails, instant messaging, chat rooms, forums, blogs, wikis, feeds ... all these have enabled us to share in a much easier and simpler method, without the constraints imposed by 'other people' planning (or constraining?) our learning for us.

I, as an individual, am free to learn as and when I wish, can connect up with experts half-way across the globe to complete my learning and technology is now enabling this to happen much faster.

For those of you focussing on 'social' in the workplace, don't focus on the technology to do it. Get back to basics. Look at how people learn the best ... and use technology to enable it.

We always learnt social ... and now with social learning we are going back to the basics - this time supported by technology.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The course on Social Learning!

To learn something new as well as share my experience, joined for a programme on "Introduction to Social Learning in the Workplace" run by Jane Hart of the Centre for Learning Performance Technologies (

Looking forward to learning.

A very interesting resource on social learning is also available on the C4LPT at Jane's Social Learning Centre website here. A good read indeed. Over the coming weeks, I will be reading this up and sharing my views here on this blog.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Kindle or Kobo?

Nope I don't have an eReader ... instead I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 (the original 7" one). Both Kindle and Kobo reading software are installed on my - Laptop, my iPhone4, my Galaxy Tab and also my iPad 1.

I liked the Kindle reader - more for the great content from Amazon. I chanced upon Kobo not so much by choice but by the rumble of mergers and acquisitions in the corporate world (Samsung gave me a few free books from WHSmith on the Tab. WHSmith have moved over to the Kobo reader so all my purchases were transferred from the WHSmith android app to the Kobo app) .

The Kobo app has a much fresher look than the Kindle app. The Kindle app, for some reason looks and feels very dated. The social and other features of Kobo (except for the feature which plans to tell the world what you are reading via your FB account - if you enable it) such as badgets etc are also cool and the book shelf also looks much more polished than the interface of the Kindle software.

I have moved over to Kobo and have started purchasing books from there. Will update you if I change my mind and any reasons associated with the same.

Friday, January 06, 2012

BCS Berkshire Branch!

I have started attending the Tuesday evening meeting of the BCS Berkshire branch (have been attending for the past two months now) at the Copa Bar, Reading. Have met some great people, heard about exciting projects that people are working on and have gotten involved in helping the West-Berkshire council implement their new learning environment.

Planning on helping the council create a framework within which all schools under the council should have the do's don't's and best practices documented for a hassle-free transition from the old learning environment to the new! Looking forward to making a positive impact in this new year!