Google's Schmidt Pledges Raspberry Pi Linux Computers to U.K. Schools
As we've reported, the diminutive $25 Linux computer dubbed Raspberry Pi is attracting developers and tinkerers, and we've also noted that it could succeed where projects like One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) ran into roadblocks--in the educational market. In fact, the tiny devices (see the motherboard shown here) have already drawn interest from educational system and technology industry leaders. Now, in a very promising step for the Raspberry Pi movement, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt has pledged to give U.K. schools Raspberry Pis and pledged to train 100 teachers in how to pass Linux skills onto students.
"Rebooting computer science education is not straightforward," Schmidt said at an event in London, according to the BBC. "Scrapping the existing curriculum was a good first step - the equivalent of pulling the plug out of the wall. The question is now how to power up."
Schmidt said that Google's funding would flow to the schools through the charity Teach First, and that teachers would get six-week training courses in order to pass skills, including Raspberry Pi skills onto students.
A standard Raspberry Pi device comes with a 700MHz ARM11, 256 MB RAM, SD card slot, Ethernet port, 2 USB ports, and an an HDMI connector. The devices are expected to stay in the $25 to $35 range, which may mean that they can gain traction in schools where kids might not otherwise own or have access to computers. English educators, in particular, have expressed interest in the devices.
In the past, when schools have been seeded with new breeds of computers, the problem of training teaches has risen to the top. That's why it's smart of Schmidt to include funds for training teachers in his pledge to U.K. schools. With any luck, this gift from Google might set a precedent in schools.