infoTECH Feature

June 25, 2009

Sugar Labs Unveils New Learning Platform

Sugar Labs, a nonprofit charitable organization and the creators of Sugar Learning Platform, announced the availability of Sugar on a Stick v1 Strawberry, which is a software stack (loaded on a USB stick) that enables users to use the Sugar platform without touching the computer's hard disk.
Being a part of the One Laptop Per Child project, Sugar Labs coordinates volunteers who intend to offer educational opportunities to millions of children via the Sugar Learning Platform. The Sugar platform is a computer environment featuring activities designed to educate children from five to 12 years of age. In this regard, Sugar Labs released the Strawberry version 1.0 of Sugar on a Stick, which is meant for classroom testing.
According to Sugar Labs, the Sugar on a Stick can be loaded onto an ordinary 1GB USB flash drive and can be used to reboot any PC or netbook directly into the Sugar learning environment.
Sugar on a Stick is specially designed to work with a School Server that can provide content distribution, homework collection, backup services, Moodle integration, and filtered access to the Internet, the company said.
In addition, this cost-effective software provides flexibility in hardware choices, thereby helping the schools to keep their existing investment in hardware.
Sugar on a Stick can be downloaded for free from the company’s Web site. It can even run on recent Macs with a helper CD and in Windows using virtualization.
Offering a coherent and consistent computing experience, Sugar on a Stick includes 40 activities that feature read, write, paint, chess, geography, sudoku and Etoys. All these activities require student collaboration. Both students and teachers can work, play, and learn on the same activities. More activities can be downloaded for free at the Sugar Activity Library.
With the help of Sugar on a Stick, learners/students can bring this computing environment home and work on the activities. Additionally, it also provides off-line access to applications and content that can be shared with parents or anyone anywhere.
In an effort to make Sugar on a Stick classroom-ready, Gould Charitable Foundation awarded $20,000 to Sugar Labs, in order to implement Sugar learning environment at the Gardner Pilot Academy, a public elementary school located in Boston, Massachusetts.
"Sugar is preferred because it is a superior learning experience for young children: engaging while being affordable,” Walter Bender, founder and executive director, said in a statement. “It is also well-suited to slower, older PCs and low-powered netbooks. There is a version for the OLPC XO-1 and it will ship with the newer XO-1.5 laptops in the fall."
Since Sugar Learning Platform is open, the work of other open source projects, existing software for children can be integrated easily.

Jayashree Adkoli is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Jayashree's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Amy Tierney

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