Thursday, July 7, 2011

Teacher Session 2

After the meeting with committees, we had our second workshop with teachers. Unfortunately, not all of the teachers showed up, but we had about half of them.

How it went:
The focus of this workshop was to respond to some teacher requests:
Can we use this computer for assistance with demerit lists?

  • SocialCalcActivity.xo: a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel
    • Benefits:
      • Intuitive to use like Excel
      • Spreadsheets exportable for use on Excel (haven't tested)
      • Powerful program
    • Problems
      • Couldn't get latest version (5) to run on XO
      • Older version (1) is very slow
      • Graphing doesn't work quite right
    • We decided SocialCalc is a great program to keep.

Is there a way for students to do problems and get immediate feedback?
We tested a few programs for this:

  •  Mateton: Program acts like a digital blackboard for students to do math problems.
    • Problems:
      • Cannot type numbers, must use cursor to select numbers.
      • There is no correction / feedback for students, except that it saves their steps so a teacher can look at their progress. Would benefit greatly from a "correct" / "incorrect" feedback feature.
    • We decided not to use this program.
  • TuxMath: Program is a game where you are a penguin in a spaceship shooting down math equations.
    • Benefits:
      • Terrific program for getting kids to want to do math.
      • Instant feedback on problems.
      • Simple game mechanics.
      • Many levels of play.
    • Problems:
      • Written in Javascript, does not look like typical sugar activity, so it is confusing.
      • Multiplayer support is weak, as the second player doesn't go until the first player is done which could be hours. It also is hotseat, and doesn't take advantage of XOs connectivity.
      • Levels are terms like "space cadet" and "commando" which are not undestood by non-native English speakers.
    • We decided to keep this program for use.

From this workshop, we became concerned for the future of the program. Teachers are beginning to become comfortable with different activities, but they are not yet comfortable with the actual operating system. It has become clear, that we need to more formally teach the aspects of Sugar. Frame, Views, Tabs within activities, etc.

We let teachers take computers home with them to play on them, and to bring in questions.


  1. Hi, I'm Nick Doiron, one of the Social Calc developers. Can you be more specific about how the program failed - did it start, did menus appear, did boxes for numbers appear... Also do you know if you are using XO-1s with older versions of Sugar?

    Please contact me at ndoiron AT and I will try to send you a working version for your XOs

  2. This update fixes SocialCalc on newer XOs and newer Sugar: