In May of 2014, Tutaweza, in cooperation with the Mbeya University for Science and Technology (MUST), presented a 3 week workshop on the Raspberry Pi computer system. This special project was made possible by a fundraising campaign separate from our normal scholarship program.
Tutaweza has long promoted hands-on learning opportunities in Tanzanian classrooms; in computer and software engineering this is particularly important. The Raspberry Pi provides an excellent vehicle for this. It is a low cost, credit card sized computer which may be used for general purpose computing, as well as for dedicated applications such as entertainment systems or monitoring. It runs a version of the Linux operating system and has a wide variety of open-source software available, including office, scientific, statistical, and computer programming applications.
As a part of the workshop, Tutaweza provided 15 complete Raspberry Pi computers along with 8 GB flash cards for storage, keyboards, mice, wireless network adapters and USB hubs, as well as a Lenovo laptop to be used as a server for the Raspberry Pi network. MUST provided monitors for each of the computers, and the workshop was held at the MUST facility in Mbeya.
The course spanned 3 weeks and over 30 students, including 2 instructors, attended. The topics covered were:
- Introduction to the Raspberry Pi
- Assembly of the Raspberry Pi computer and accessories
- Introduction to basic computing
- The Linux operating system
- Operating system maintenance, including user account and network management
- Program maintenance, including program installation, removal and updates
- Use of the Libre Office software, including word processing, spreadsheet, database and presentation modules
- An introduction to programming on the Raspberry Pi, featuring the Scratch and Python languages
Although the course was brief and a substantial amount of material was covered, it is expected that this introduction will be the start of a computer laboratory for MUST, in which students can gain valuable hands-on experience with a new generation of micro computing platforms.