Sunday, April 12, 2009

Shifting gears, finding encouraging signs

Today I found out that it may be up to six months before Sugar on a Stick becomes really usable on my XO laptops. I had been getting a little discouraged, and I didn't know if it was really going to happen. So I was relieved to know that it may work, eventually.

XO Classroom Presenter demo 1So I took a deep breath and started thinking about where I might go with Sugar on a Stick right now. I recalled an exciting time from a year ago where my classroom was the field test for a new piece of software for the XO called Classroom Presenter for the XO. It had been developed by students from the University of Washington.

I had written about that incredible experience, and I thought now might be a good time to see if their program would run on a PC running Sugar on a Stick.

Classroom Presenter - SoaS1I used an XO to be the "teacher", and Sugar on a Stick on my Thinkpad as a student. After being sure they were both on the same jabber server, both had the program loaded, and both had the slide deck loaded, we connected. The program worked flawlessly. From my little XO, I was able to direct the student computer to any slide. I also received immediately any response to questions or drawings on the slide deck from the student computer. I could unlock the student computer so it could go to any of the slides, and I could lock the computer, so it could see what I, as the teacher, wanted it to see again.

XO Classroom Presenter demo 2A couple of specs: the XO is running version 8.2, and Sugar on a Stick is the "beta" version. I used the server at In theory, I could have an entire bank of classroom computers, or a lab, or computers scattered around the globe - to be engaged in an activity. The Sugar community is encouraging school servers, or hubs, which would be a much better idea with many computers involved. The XO has a built in Mesh network, which we used during the demo in my classroom, but it's not on Sugar on a Stick. We had 8 XO's engaged at once back then. (laptop images here are from the slide deck designed for our demo, converted from a simple PowerPoint presentation I sent to the Classroom Presenter developers)

Classroom Presenter - SoaS2One thing I was not able to try out was sharing a student "answer" to all of the others involved in the activity, but I bet it would have worked, as everything else did.

I continue to be amazed at the potential I see for connective, constructive collaboration out there. Monday I start talking with my kids and their parents about having a flash drive dedicated for their own Sugar on a Stick.

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HuskyDev said...

This is an awesome experiment! I'm glad to see that our little classroom presenter program runs in this way. I think it may be time to dust off the project and finally make the last few improvements necessary for us to make our final release. Thanks Mark! =)

Mark Ahlness said...

Yeah, it was really exciting to see your program running again! Not wanting to get too excited though....

I brought that USB stuck to my classroom today:
- on a Dell GX 270, it booted fine, saw the Internet, but the mouse would not appear (so I'm thinking, try it on a laptop, 'cause I booted it on a Thinkpad at home, maybe it had to do with the pointing device...)
- on a Dell Latitude laptop, it booted fine, HAD a mouse, but could not make the network connection...

Aaargh, this is far from a done deal...