The Future of Technology in the Classroom — The Next Gen Raspberry Pi 2

In the AV business, technology in the K-12 classroom has been defined in many different ways. From interactive technologies to educational software, manufacturers and solutions providers have provided educators the basis for students to not only learn and grow in a formative manner, but technologically as well. The need for children to move toward a greater understanding of what is available to them in the world of information technology has never been greater, and that need grows stronger every day.

In my experience in AV systems integration sales, I was front and center to the K-12 education market in terms of hardware and software sales and integration. In one of my major market focuses, Interactive whiteboards and corresponding software were the great means to learning and growing for students on this level. While I also worked with the higher ed market, K-12 represented a different and unique focus, one which required a great understanding of the pedagogic needs of the teacher, as well as the interrelated needs of the students in terms of learning and technology. As mobile devices have been replacing the PC and laptop in schools, lesser expensive solutions have also garnered a sharper focus toward replacing PC usage while satisfying the technological requirements of the day. One such targeted technology solution in the K-12 realm is Raspberry Pi.

The Raspberry Pi is a credit card-sized single-board computer (a complete computer built on a single circuit board, with a microprocessor, memory, input/output (I/O) and other features required of a functional computer, developed in the UK by the Raspberry Pi Foundation with the intention of promoting the teaching of basic computer science in schools. The original Raspberry Pi primarily used Linux-based-kernel operating systems. It was mainly designed for projects that required a simple microcomputer (even to design gadgets), however even more than that, a focus on getting boys and girls to become interested in learning about the inner workings and function of a computer as well as possible incentive look into doing such things as writing programming code.

Out of the box, it’s ready to go. The original Pi CPU, is an ARMv6 running at 700Mhz powered inexpensively by a USB cable. The Raspberry Pi can run a graphical environment with accelerated video through an HDMI port or a composite RCA jack.

Very recently, the next-generation Raspberry Pi 2, was officially announced. It has the same form factor as the Raspberry Pi 1 B+. Here is a picture of the Raspberry Pi with it’s components detailed (and no need for a hard drive as a Micro SD card storage replaces it):

Raspberry Pi

Here are the official specs/feature sets and pricing:

Release date February 2015
Introductory price US $35
Operating system Linux (Ubuntu, Raspbian, Debian, OpenELEC, Fedora, Arch, Gentoo, OpenWrt), RISC OS, FreeBSD, NetBSD, Plan 9, Inferno, Windows 10
CPU 900 MHz ARM Cortex-A7 quad-core with ARMv7-A CPU architecture
Memory 1 GB RAM
Storage MicroSDHC slot
Graphics Broadcom VideoCore IV
Power 3.0 Watt

According to Raspberry Pi Foundation Founder and now CEO of the Raspberry Pi Trading Company  Eben Upton (who is also a Technical Director and ASIC architect for Broadcom), it’s “at least 6x” faster than the original Raspberry Pi B+. The 900MHz quad-core has four physical processing cores where its predecessor the ARMv6 had only one. It is also backward compatible with the first-generation model and as pointed out above looks identical to the Raspberry Pi 1 Model B+. The ARM11™ processor family also provides the engine that powers many smartphones (in production today) and is also widely used in consumer, home, and embedded applications.

Ebon Upton

Ebon Upton holding the Raspberry Pi

Mr. Upton, in a Wall Street Journal article goes on to say that children today “have wonderful technology in their lives, but they are deprived of learning how it works,” Upton decided to deliberately create a computer that foregoes user-friendliness to create somewhat of a challenge that in every respect provides students a more realistic (as well as less expensive) pathway to learn about computer hardware and software. The technology has brought appeal to adults as well in terms of learning open source and coding and even creating ready-made tech gadgetry.

Here is a hands-on review of the Raspberry Pi 2 with 900 MHz ARM Cortex-A7 quad-core and 1GB of RAM:

In terms of other technology applications, the Cortex A7 quad core processor is designed for a wide range of devices which include:

  • Tablets
  • Advanced Wearables
  • Routers
  • The Internet of Things
  • Network Infrastructure

It was just reported that there have been over 5 million Rasberry Pi cards sold. The Raspberry Pi Foundation doesn’t personally make a profit from the Pi – all profits go straight back into their educational mission and into R&D. Recently, Microsoft announced that they are making a free version of Windows 10 that will run on Raspberry Pi 2 that will run on the updated, quad-core, creating a more enhanced and powerful experience as the new board is strong enough to run Windows 10, as well as more usual Linux operating systems.

Follow the Raspberry Pi Foundation (@Raspberry_Pi) on Twitter and also check out Raspberry Pi Kids (@raspberrypikids) and Raspberry Pi Team (@TeamRaspi). I’ll be writing more on these types of technologies as well as usage in K-12, Higher Ed and other markets.