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Google buys 15,000 Raspberry Pi computers for UK schools

Eric Schmidt says that the micro-computer is essential to future innovation in the UK

Google has funded the purchase of 15,000 Raspberry Pi micro-computers for UK schools.

Children at the Chesterton Community College were treated to a lesson in coding by Google chairman Eric Schmidt, who reinforced the importance of affordable, accessible computing devices to the future of innovation in the UK.

"Google's primary concern is to make sure that there's lots a lot of technically trained people in the world," he said in an interview with the BBC. "Almost everything is better when people are better educated, and there's a real issue around the shortage of math and science people. And it's not just in the UK. It's everywhere, in every country.

"Innovation these days is mostly technically driven...so getting those skills built early is a good investment for Britain. Of course, some of these children will go off and make great companies, but some of them will work for them, and some of them will work for Google."

Google recently purchased land around London's King's Cross station for almost $1 billion. The company plans to build new offices on the site, which will greatly increase the number of people it employs in the UK.

Since it launched last year, the Raspberry Pi has proved so popular that manufacturers have struggled to meet demand. It is currently being assembled at Sony's UK plant in Pencoed, South Wales. A store for free and paid apps, tools and tutorials went live just before Christmas.

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Latest comments (17)

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 3 years ago
This is utterly brilliant. An investment that will pay UKplc back many times over.
They should give one to everyone in a UK school.
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Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters3 years ago
Absolutely right. Especially considering 15,000 of these must be like pocket change to a company like Google.
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gi biz ;,pgc.eu 3 years ago
Not to mention that this will educate people in not fearing this mysterious beast called Linux. Indeed, a very good move that doesn't stink of cheap interest like those from other big companies. Hopefully the Raspberry team could fix all the issues they have with usb considering the money they are getting...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by gi biz on 30th January 2013 9:40am

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Show all comments (17)
James Boulton Tools & Tech Coder, Slightly Mad Studios3 years ago
Absolutely fantastic from my point of view. Teaching in computing has been going backwards (from a tech standpoint) for the last 25 years. When I was first introduced to computers at school we had mostly Amstrad CPC's and we learnt about programming. Then within a few years everything moved over to Mac's, and suddenly it was all about how to use a spreadsheet. Programming had somehow become obsolete overnight. Granted programming isnt for everyone, and basic skills in computing are invaluable for all walks of life, but we need to nurture our techies! :)
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Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters3 years ago
The problem is a lot of people making decisions in school don't actually know the difference between Computer Science and IT.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 3 years ago
Wow. All we get here in the U.S. of A. are "history" and "science" textbooks rewritten by religious fundamentalists that discount actual science and history in favor of biblical and right-leaning "facts". Texas controlling that part of the process is going to make this country dumb(er) as shit unless those books get boiled clean of that nonsense (The earth in NOT six-freakin' thousand years old!). Oh, and some kids get iPads to play with. I know there are computers in schools here, but I can't say there's as much interest in learning programming as much as there is in the UK...
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Charlie Andre-Barrett European Digital Sales Manager, Bethesda Softworks3 years ago
great news ! indeed roll out to all UK schools i its a great start , hats off to Google !
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Adam Campbell Producer, Hopster3 years ago
oooh
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Stephen Woollard Online Infrastructure Specialist, Electronic Arts3 years ago
Apparently there was some talk among various teaching unions that this may not be as good an idea as it first seems, and that Google are trying to use the state education system as a marketing platform, and in all fairness there may well be some truth to that. Having said that, providing the correct checks and balances are in place, I see no reason why a closer union between big business and education shouldn't be a Good Thing™.

I think the crux of it, and Microsoft are in a similar position, is that Google know they will need a constant supply of programmers and investing in the education system will eventually give them want they want. They're playing a very long game, but it's a worthy goal.

The simple fact of the matter is that we, as a society both local and global need more scientists, be they physicists, chemists, or whatever, and just as importantly we need engineers, because scientists can come up with anything they like, but it takes engineers to actually build it, whether the end result be a physical item like the Large Hadron Collider or a software item like Windows or Linux.
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I approve of this in principle, but in my experience of working in schools, the problem isn't access to technology but having staff who know how to use it. There needs to be a push to actually get good quality computing teachers into schools first, then give them the technology they need. Right now, most kids know more about computers than the people who are supposed to be teaching them about computers. Many school staff are still getting to grips with email. This seems like a cart before the horse situation and I fear many of these Raspberry Pis will end up in a cupboard somewhere without someone who knows how to make the most of it.
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd3 years ago
@ Greg lol someone took that Cracked article too seriously. No textbooks in the US make any such claims. It's in fact illegal to not teach evolution (even if you claim it's a theory). Yes, Texas does have some control over textbooks by being a huge buyer, but they have yet to exercise that right in any meaningful way.
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Lewis Brown Snr Sourcer/Recruiter, Electronic Arts3 years ago
@Dan I was thinking the same thing! I can just imagine a host of confused teachers using the PI as a doorstop. Still its a great idea and Im sure its will still benefit many. Regardless of motivations a good deed is a good deed!
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Thaadd Powell Sales Rep, ACD Game Distribution3 years ago
Makes me feel like a dinosaur - when I graduated, we had a single internet connected computer, which was placed 6 feet from the Librarian's desk so she could supervise over your shoulder. The tech teacher was a dinosaur who was hired 20 years before to teach typing on electric typerwriters, and she believed that this one nerdy guy could give her computers viruses by simply touching them - so she made him stand 4 feet behind me if he was to help on my independent MS Excel course. (this was in 1995)
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James Verity3 years ago
didn't Google among others use avoidance of UK Taxes?
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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 3 years ago
I generally agree with most of the comments here, I think this is rather exciting and it's rather fantastic!

However teaching I.T. lessons in school are for the most part rather useless. The majority of kids taking IT aren't learning much that they didn't already just pick up already by playing around with a computer. The most interesting thing I learnt in IT I have to say was good old turtle drawing (Logo). Everything else was Microsoft Publisher flyers with clipart, word documents and spreadsheets.

So whilst I think there's no denying this is a fantastic step forward, in my opinion I.T. for kids in school needs to be radically reformed to go with the times. When you go into a class and the kids know more than the teachers themselves, then you got a bit of a problem.

Still well done to you Google!
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Bryan Robertson Gameplay Programmer, Ubisoft Toronto3 years ago
I think this is fantastic. I count myself very lucky to have gone to school at a time when programming was a big part of Standard Grade/Higher Computing (not sure if that's still the case nowadays), and when programming was a very prominent feature in the home computers of the time. If not for that, I might not be in the industry today.

Perhaps if kids were introduced to game development and programming at an earlier age, we might see less people leaving high-school thinking that maths is "all that useless x and y stuff that I'll never use".

I think people underestimate childrens' ability to learn subjects like programming. It wasn't that long ago that kids all over the country were writing games in machine code.
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Adam Campbell Producer, Hopster3 years ago
There's usually an ulterior motive as suggested above, yet I still feel the free hardware tips the balance. It will be such a useful tool for teaching. We have as much and more Google in our lives than we can consume, so if it means a little more marketing and a little more plugging a 'socially aware' brand for the investment then I say take it ;)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 30th January 2013 9:15pm

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