Introduction to the Raspberry Pi: free online course in Spanish starts October 14th

Universidad Galileo (Galileo University) in Guatemala have launched a free, Spanish language MOOC (Massive Open Online Course**) titled “Introducción a Raspberry Pi“.

The University says (via my rubbish tourist Spanish, sorry):

In this course, students will get to know the Raspberry Pi and learn what it can do; which [Linux] distributions are available; how to develop simple applications using Python; and how to control external devices using the GPIO interface.

The emphasis is on theory first, then demonstrations and ultimately the student is encouraged to reinforce their learning by first replicating and then improving what they’ve been shown.

The course structure looks like this :

  • Installation, configuration, accessories and other aspects
  • Installing Wheezy and other distributions
  • Introduction to Python
  • Introduction to programming in Python on the Raspberry Pi
  • A complete example in Python
  • Raspberry Pi GPIO module for external connections
  • Hardware basics and using the GPIO
  • Next steps: projects and community

The content looks excellent and they’ve got a talented and experienced bunch of teachers on board. Interestingly, there are two routes through the course: a ‘light mode’ where you can learn the basics and an ‘advanced mode’ where studetns contribute weekly projects plus a final project. For the light mode you do not even need a Raspberry Pi! This is a stroke of genius: the fewer barriers to learning the better.

We believe that this is the first ever Raspberry Pi specific MOOC and it certainly sets the bar for future courses. If Spanish is your first language and you would like to learn about the Raspberry Pi, what it can do and how to use it then is the ideal route. The course starts October 14th 2013 and registration is now open. Sign up here.

**If you’ve not come across MOOCs before, they are online courses that typically teach discrete topics using a mixture of video, short assessments, quizzes, assignments and exams. Basically, they allow you to access the smarts of world leaders in their fields from the comfort of your home.)


Jim Manley avatar

While MOOCs have a lonnnnng way to go in terms of consistency in quality, logical structure, content comprehensiveness, infrastructure bandwidth, etc., when done well, they are a great opportunity for people to learn who would otherwise never be able to have such an experience in the flesh, More people completed the inaugural Introduction to Artificial Intelligence prototype MOOC offered at Stanford a couple of years ago than had completed an equivalent traditional course at all of the colleges and universities in the world, combined, despite knowing they would receive no credit for completion.

I haven’t seen any identified, but someone needs to create some templates for quality MOOCs to increase the odds that those developed will be worth the bandwidth to try them. Otherwise, they can be a complete waste of resources.

Jan avatar

So you’re basically saying: “MOOCs are bad unless they are good”? What’s the point? Why not comment on this specific course itself? It looks professional and well designed, we’ll have to see about the content of course.

And if you replace the word “MOOC” in your last sentence with any generic teaching resource it reads the same. MOOCs are expensive but universities and lecturers for instance are more so. Finally, a good template won’t help at all if the content is poor.

But mainly I don’t understand why you replied to this blog to lecture us your thoughts on MOOCs instead of starting a new post in the forum to discuss it.

Jim Manley avatar

Well, you certainly got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. Now, do what we have kindergartners do and go take a nap and come back here and apologize when you’re in a better mood, OK? Seriously, you need to learn some manners.

When you do come back with your tail between your legs after having learned that being a Meanie is not nice, your next lesson will be to learn to read for context and semantics, not just syntax. The point of my post is that a lot of people are all so excited by MOOCs, and as you pointed out so obviously and generically yourself, they are just another means of delivering educational material – they aren’t the first, and they won’t be the last. History and human nature guarantee that, because there are some things MOOCs aren’t good for, such as providing the one-on-one, detailed interaction that some students must have in order to learn. This is particularly the learning-challenged, which can be for mental or physical reasons ranging from mild cases of dyslexia to blindness and physical injuries/deformities. Then, there are the wide range of learning styles, such as logical/numeric, textual, kinesthetic, musical, artistic, etc. (some call this “multiple intelligences”, but others prefer “differentiated instruction”).

Believe it or not, even many people without any challenges just don’t like computers or technology, for that matter, and it’s not just old people. There are a lot of students who just get nothing from a talking head or (in the case of sites like Khan Academy) not even a head, body, or anything more than a voice, if even that (e.g., a static presentation slides).

I cited the experience of the Stanford Introduction to AI MOOC and perhaps you’re already an expert on that, but I’ll bet there are a lot of readers here who are not aware of it, and there are oodles of links to material about it that a simple web search will turn up, so I didn’t provide a link, but perhaps you’re one of those students who has trouble with a standardized approach to learning and need some differentiated instruction yourself. BTW, where are your MOOCs, if you’re such an authority on the subject that you feel you can criticize anyone else?

As for the template issue I raised, good content alone isn’t worth much without matching quality in organization, infrastructure, pedagogy, and a myriad of other pesky details that are often overlooked by people who prop things up on web sites thinking they’ve got the best educational mousetrap on the Internet. Content only involves probably 10% of the effort required to establish an effective MOOC, and having it developed by Stanford professors isn’t even a guarantee of success.

In fact, if you’ve talked with Dr. Sebastian Thrun, as I have, you’d know that on July 17, 2011, when he and Dr. Peter Norvig announced the availability of their MOOC, no one enrolled – zip, nada, nothing. There have been many other bumps along the way that have made it far from convincing that their idea is sound, not the least of which was sagging infrastructure that couldn’t handle the unexpected torrent of students who eventually did show up, and where the pool of support personnel needed to answer questions was going to come from, which Stanford did not agree to provide.

In their follow-up startup effort, one of the biggest challenges they still don’t know how to deal with is how educational institutions can make MOOCs work financially. After the very considerable initial investment in personnel to create content, set up infrastructure, etc., the resources required are directly proportional to the number of students actively participating, and someone needs to be around to answer the inevitable questions, which can be from tens of thousands of students. Chat rooms, e-mail, video conferencing, etc., still require warm bodies to be on the other end, and one-on-one interaction costs essentially the same whether it’s in person or on-line, which many prospective MOOC creators aren’t thinking about.

So, other than whining, what, exactly was _your_ point? Show your work, BTW, because we don’t give multiple choice tests here that you may be more familiar with, apparently. Oh, and have a nice day.

Mike avatar

Jim, get a life please !
Can we assume you’re some sort of teacher who feels threatened by MOOCs (as well as any sort of criticism) ?

Personally I thoroughly recommend MOOCs.

Thanks Clive for this heads up – I signed up!

clive avatar

Excellent — let us know how it goes!

Jan avatar

As I suspected: soapbox.

Dio avatar

“Well, you certainly got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. Now, do what we have kindergartners do and go take a nap and come back here and apologize when you’re in a better mood, OK? Seriously, you need to learn some manners.” – Jim Manley

I’ve seen some arrogance on here, but this really takes the biscuit. Maybe you should be the one to apologize and show some manners, but by your tone I feel this to be unlikely. Sad!

Jim Manley avatar

Well, now we need to teach people to read who somehow managed to learn how to randomly press keys to create posts. Some MOOCs are fine, some are great, but a lot of people make the assumption that they’re automatically the greatest thing since sliced bread. That’s certainly not true of most of the attempts at on-line education so far, and the MOOC posted about might be, but it’s not even available yet.

The MOOC is about the Pi, it seems shiny, and that’s about all we know about it. Apparently, it became illegal to point out what to look for in an excellent MOOC while I wasn’t looking and a self-appointed posse of comment police is now roaming the virtual streets looking to bully anyone they feel violates their particular warped view of reality. Good luck with that attitude, losers.

As for me being a teacher who feels threatened by MOOCs, you’re apparently not just rude but new here. I’ve been a fan, user, and software-developing contributor to on-line information-sharing technology (including patents in the public domain as well as commercial) probably since before you were born. I assume you’ve never had an ARPA.MIL e-mail address like I have, either.

Well, I guess there really are the one percent who actually make things happen, the ten percent who watch what happens, and the rest who sit around wondering what happened while they were contemplating their belly button lint between posts moaning about what others post. Talk about needing a life. Don’t go away mad … well I’m sure you’ve been told the rest of that too many times to count.

Oh, and have a really nice day!

liz avatar

Jim: I love you dearly and see exactly what your position is here; and Dio: I totally get where you’re coming from too. But please row back, both of you, on the insult-trading and sarcasm. There are really passionate feelings on all sides of this argument (and I have my own, but I’m not indulging them here); it’s better when we can all discuss them without getting heated.

You know what I’d rather talk about instead? Baboons vs sharks. Who would win?

Dio avatar

Liz: I won’t take the bait from that previous message – after all I’m only a lowly technical department head at one of the worlds largest tech companies (known by a ‘saucy’ 2 letter abbreviation!) and I only achieved that by contemplating my belly button. Doh, there goes the sarcasm again – sorry.

BTW I think it depends on if the sharks have lasers?

liz avatar

*Frickin’* lasers, surely.

Jim Manley avatar

Liz – apparently, others don’t have the advantage I do in first-hand experience with great white sharks and are therefore unaware that lasers are totally useless in a liquid medium. Plus, in a baboon’s native environment, even a great white shark would find itself quite literally up a tree, and I hear that baboons can rip fins pectoral, dorsal, and pelvic from their connective tissues with no problem. Besides, shark brains haven’t evolved for 400 million years, while baboons are already more mentally advanced than the brainiacs on Wall Street who invented credit default swaps and credit default swaps.

No LIzes, sharks, baboons, lasers, or posters were harmed in the production of this post and I approve of this message :roll:

This post paid for by Manley for Dogcatcher, 2013 :D

Jim Manley avatar

The second “credit default swap” was originally typed as “collateralized debt obligation”, but never underestimate the power of the “auto-corrupt” feature to really impress us with its acumen in verbal gymnastics … including needless repetition, apparently … :o

Robert_M avatar

Jim – are you doing okay? I’m familiar with the guy who has a lot to say and has strong opinions about those things; but not so much with the guy in this thread. Maybe I’m mistaken and just reading things wrong, but to me this guy seems worked up by stuff that usually just rolls of your back, and it just seems out of character.

(I was going to add this below, after your most recent post, but there’s no “comment” link after that one.)

Jim Manley avatar

Hi Robert!

I’ve never been better – others don’t seem to be doing so well. By design, I made it impossible to comment any further on my last comment-to-a-comment-to-a-comment … well, that’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it! :D

Normally, I could care less about comments to my posts, but these folks misinterpreted what I said, added absolutely nothing to the discussion, and then decided to pile on with more nonsense. I won’t put up with bullies after my father and I expended blood, sweat, and spit at places like Normandy, the bridge at Remagen, and the frozen forests of Bastogne, and being taken POW at the Battle of the Bulge, winning the Cold War, rescuing Kuwait, freeing Iraq, and otherwise serving all over the planet while immediate family members died of cancer and suffered other fates.

One can only put up with ingrates for so long who can’t be bothered to save themselves and their neighbors, depending on others to always come to the rescue. Liz is right, it is unfair to punch upward while lying on one’s back at the bottom of a heap, but the soprano shrieks sure are entertaining! ;)

Robert_M avatar

Hi, Jim –

Good to hear all is well!

And, to chime in on Liz’s question about baboons vs. sharks, I’d have to say sharks, since they Never Sleep. Any single baboon is no match against a single shark, since the shark merely has to wait for the baboon to fall asleep in order to acquire a fur-lined sandwich. Oh, and to also have reverse SCUBA gear so it can breathe on land.

Knock Knock!

Who’s There?

Land Shark!

Stewart Watkiss avatar

I don’t speak Spanish so unfortunately I can’t comment on this particular MOOC, but I like the concept.

All going well I’m hoping to start a MOOC course next year. An MSc in computer science.

This is being run by Georgia Tech (university in the US) in partnership with Udacity and AT&T. Whilst the MOOC content is going to be free for all, it is a paid for course to gain a qualification. There is no way I could justify the cost or find the time to attend this using traditional classroom attendance (especially as I already have a Masters in electronics) so it is providing an opportunity that I would not otherwise had.

On the flip side last time I attended a course at a US university I got to spend two months staying in a hotel in New York which was pretty cool – although there’s no way I’d get the funding for something like that in the current climate anyway.

I expect there will be British universities offering similar MOOC courses in future, although I don’t think there are any offering this particular course yet, but physical distance becomes less of a factor when studying online.

I’ve been looking at some of the material currently available (not from the actual course I’m hoping to attend) and I’ve been very impressed by what I’ve seen so far. Comparing it with YouTube videos of traditional style lecturers that remind me of how bad some traditional university lectures can be. The main thing for me is having the ability to pause and repeat until you understand the concept being taught, rather than getting left behind if you don’t follow the material at the start of the lecture.

I think there are going to be disadvantages of MOOC too, especially in hands on subjects (not sure how it would work with practical electronics labs). There is also the lack of interaction with other students (although the plan is to mimic that using and online environment with people working at their own pace I don’t think it will be the same as walking down the corridor chatting with fellow students). I also think there are many other advantages in attending a real university building for particularly for undergraduate degrees where the whole life experience is beneficial.

I expect there will be good and bad on-line courses in the same way that some universities have good and bad lecturers.
It’s going to be interesting to see what it’s like.

Mac Oiler avatar

For plenty of free online courses have a look at this . .

RobV avatar

I dont know if it counts as a MOOC but Paul Hegarty’s CS193P at Stanford ( Developing for iPhone ) is cherished the world over by many Apple Devs as their entry into that walled garden.

Victor avatar

Sorry man – but your spanish really gives me headache.

Lo siento amigo – pero tu español hablado me da dorlo de cabeza.

Por lado…creo que el contenido es bastante bueno

Joel avatar

Awesome, I want to buy it by october, before the course…..

Porfin algo en espaniol saludos bolud@s

tomas avatar

no he encontrado el item donde indique tu curso de rasberry pi podrias instruirme, desde ya gracias.

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