May 5, 2011 weblog
The $25 educational PC
(PhysOrg.com) -- Have you ever played Elite? What about games in the Rollercoaster Tycoon series, Thrillville, Lost Winds, or Kinectimals? If so, then you have enjoyed the work of David Braben. Mr. Braben is a fairly well known video game designer, he also runs the UK development studio Frontier Developments, but soon he may be known as much for his hardware as he is for his software.
Mr. Braben has developed a very small USB stick PC that has an HDMI port in one end and a USB port on the other. The machine, which runs on a version of Linux, is designed to help get programming and the general knowledge of how computers work back into the educational curriculum.
Mr. Brabens central argument stems around the notion that computer science education has, in the 2000s, veered away from development and towards teaching basic skills such as creating custom documents in a word processor, or making presentations, instead of higher-level skills, such as leaning about system architecture or development.
These small PCs, which would cost about $25 a unit, would be able to be furnished to each student, and have courses structured around their use.
You may be wondering what kind of hardware students will be able to get for that cost? As it turns out, the offerings are pretty solid. The system features a 700MHz ARM11 processor, which is paired with 128MB of RAM. The system runs OpenGL ES 2.0, which will allow it to have a decent level of graphics performance. The system is already confirmed to have 1080p output. An SD card slot provides storage for this unit.
This computer will be distributed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, which promotes computer science education in schools. There is no final word on when the devices will be available, but its developer hopes to be shipping them out in the next 12 months.
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