Sugar is a different desktop environment to what is normally used in Microsoft Windows or other operating systems. Sugar is free and open-source software, conceived as a tool to allow kids to learn interactively. Sugar reinvents how computers are used for education.
Collaboration, reflection, and discovery are integrated directly into the user interface. Through Sugar’s clarity of design, children and teachers have the opportunity to use computers on their own terms. Students can reshape, reinvent, and reapply both software and content into powerful learning activities.
Sugar is a global project. Translated into 25 languages, it is used in classrooms in 40 countries by over 1 million children as part of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) nonprofit program.
Sugar’s simple interface, built-in collaboration, and automatic backup through each student’s Journal have been designed to interest young learners.
Sugar on a Stick (SoaS) project brings Sugar to even more children, allowing young learners to keep a working copy of Sugar on a simple USB stick, ready to start up any PC or netbook with the child’s environment and data.
Through projects like Sugar, young people around the world can discover the creativity that freedom makes possible. Children can write documents, share books and pictures, or make music together with ease. Documents will eventually by synced with a network server, adding additional protection.
In Sugar, programs and applications are called Activities, many of which allow for collaboration between learners who are connected to each other by Wi-Fi or through a Jabber network. Anywhere you run Linux, you can probably run Sugar.
Sugar reinvents how computers can be used for education. Sugar promotes sharing, collaborative learning, and reflection. Through Sugar’s clarity of design, children and their teachers have the opportunity to use computation on their own terms; they are free to reshape, reinvent, and reapply both software and content into powerful learning activities.
Unlike most other desktop environments, Sugar does not use the “desktop”, “folder” and “window” metaphors. Instead, Sugar’s default full-screen activities require users to focus on only one program at a time.
Sugar implements a novel file-handling metaphor (the journal), which automatically saves the user’s running program session and allows them to later use an interface to pull up their past works by date, activity used or file type.
Whereas most other desktop environments are written in a compiled language (e.g., the GNOME desktop environment, Microsoft Windows XP and Vista), Sugar is written in the interpreted Python programming language. This allows for easier modification and customization of Sugar by its users than is often possible with projects written in non-interpreted languages.
[advt]Three experiences characterize the Sugar platform:
Sharing: The Sugar interface always shows the presence of other learners. Collaboration is a first-order experience. Students and teachers dialog with each other, support each other, critique each other, and share ideas.
Reflecting: Sugar uses a “Journal” to record each learner’s activity. The Journal serves as a place for reflection and assessment of progress.
Discovering: Sugar can accommodate a wide variety of users, with different levels of skill in terms of reading, language, and different levels of experience with computing. It is easy to approach, yet it doesn’t put an upper bound on personal expression. One can peel away layers and go deeper and deeper, with no restrictions.