I watched the video on Google’s new Coder project and immediately over nighted a Raspberry Pi from Amazon. If you are new to the Raspberry Pi project is it basically a very cheap computer; as in $40 for the entire machine. Compliment it with Google’s new learn-to-code operating system built for the Raspberry Pi and you have the perfect storm. Best part, you don’t actually need the internet which means students can focus.

Test #1: How good is the machine and Coder platform?

Test #2: Can I package the machine into something that could be dropped into a classroom, survive, and actually teach the students?

Cheap computers and learn-to-code software is nothing new what is new is the combination. Using the “Coder” software you can install a basic server onto the Raspberry Pi—not just any server however, it is built entirely around teaching JavaScript, Node.js, HTML, and CSS. This is so important for early developers because it allows you to mold and play with your work.

However, think about this on a bigger scale. Students on tablets or computers can connect to the server and collaborate, without an internet connection. Internet is by no means cheap in developing countries or even in countries like China where much of it still is unconnected.

Because the Raspberry Pi is the server, the student can connect to it and use the inbuilt tools to study internet technology without having a connection to the internet. The learner can change code, modify the example websites, and work all in one. In many parts of Africa the power is extremely unpredictable, which correlates to internet that sometimes only connects once a week. Yikes.

From www.raspberrypi.org

Components

Thats a total of $71.70 for a working server; a server mind you that is solar powered, needing no internet connection to teach about the internet.

The 8GB SD card (which is essentially the Raspberry Pi’s Hard drive) is large enough that it can also fit:

Install Wikipedia and Coder on the SD card so no internet is needed.

Think about that? A self powered server with Wifi, Wikipedia, and a structured code course built-in.

I am going to take it to Leo on Monday or Tuesday and see what he thinks. We love new tech like this so I am sure it will be fun to work with but I wonder if he gets much from it. If he does…

I see a lot of potential for sending this as a learning tool to classrooms as an affordable self powered option or as a tool to focus.

That’s the other half of this; a closed network removes the distraction of the internet and creates focus.

Any student connected to this Raspberry Pi would have all of Wikipedia Technology (10 million pages) and have everything they need to learn to build web applications without the distractions of the internet. Parents could safely say the kid can spend as much time on the computer as they like as long as they did not connect to the internet and staid on the Pi we know the student would be learning.

Then there is the price. In developing countries it may be the only way to bring a piece of the internet to them.

Either way, I am really excited about what the team from Google has done with this. Compliment it with a solar charger, Wikipedia, and the Node API library and its one lean mean teaching machine. Ok, its just cool.

Installing & Setup

Coder is a modified version of the Raspberry Pi OS. This means that Coder is in itself it’s own operating system to be installed on the SD card. Raspberry Pi does not have it’s own hard drive so it boots up from the SD card. Once you download Coder, click on the installer which will pop the software onto your SD card.

The easy to use OS X installer comes with the Coder download.

After it is installed, simply plug your Raspberry Pi in to turn it on. If you have your Wifi USB plugged into the Raspberry Pi you should see a Wifi network called “ConderConfig” you can connect directly to this network from another computer and in your web browser go to “http://coder.local” which will start the process of using Coder.

You don’t need a keyboard, mouse, or screen.

You don’t actually need to plug a screen into the Rasperry Pi with coder, nor do you need a mouse or keyboard. When you install Coder on the SD Card and power on the Raspberry Pi it will automatically begin the process of booting up. However, this means you will need another computer to interact with the Raspberry Pi & actually use Coder.

Below is my “CodeBerry”, I purchased a Solar powered battery charger for $14.99 and a special wooden case to protect the Pi while it moves around.

The Resulting “Codeberry”

  • It does not need to be plugged in, solar powered recharging battery.
  • It contains Google’s Coder which so far is an awesome learning tool.
  • It has Wikipedia Technology in it with 10M pages on Technology.
  • It has the full Node.JS API documentation.
The CodeBerry
My “CodeBerry” with Solar recharg

Watch the introduction video to Google’s Coder project if you get a chance.

And that is it! Feel free to reach out if you have questions or something is not working.