Kano, the British start-up who ran an enormously successful Kickstarter campaign in November/December last year have claimed that schools are allowing their Raspberry Pis to gather dust, without checking their facts first. This article, which appeared on the PC Pro website, contained this little gem from Alejandro Simon, Kano’s head of software:
“It wasn’t friendly for the teachers,” he said. “They received [Raspberry Pi] kits and massive instruction books and they weren’t prepared for it – so they were gathering dust.” “I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault – you can’t force ICT teachers to learn,” he added. “They aren’t going to know without guidance.”
Neither PC Pro nor Kano themselves had decided to talk to Eben Upton or anyone else at the Foundation before publication of the article. Their evidence is entirely anecdotal and they clearly haven’t looked very closely at the Google Pi boxes. I’ve seen Google Pis in-the-flesh, as it were, and I can assure you that they don’t contain ‘massive instruction books’ – on the contrary, they include a very concise, professionally-produced, how-to-get-started pamphlet.
“We do have good tracking on the vast majority of those,” he said. “The reason why I’m absolutely certain that, if there are some [kits] languishing on shelves they’re in a tiny minority, is because we’re required by Google to have very good visibility.”
He then goes onto explain the measures the Foundation has gone to to ensure that this tracking is carried out.
Unfortunately for Kano, they’ve decided to compound their initial mistake by offering this:
“We don’t think Raspberry Pi is gathering dust in general, just that particular ‘kit’ and documentation wasn’t used as it was supposed to.”
Which is neither apology nor evidence that they have changed their minds or researched the issue any more than they did to begin with.
Although I broadly appreciate the work that Team Kano has done creating their product and funding it, and I like the look of their books and the kit itself, I’d like to point out to them that their product doesn’t guarantee to end up in the hands of kids. The kit is at a good price point that means that hobbyists and hackers will be attracted as well. One wonders how much of the $1.5 million raised represents kids getting hold of the product. I haven’t, I admit, asked them for an estimate, so I invite them to comment on this blog with statistics that show that their aim of getting their kit into kids’ hands is being met by their Kickstarter campaign. They have said in the original article that one school bought as many as 80 kits. Well, is this the tip-of-the-iceberg, or is this just a single case?
One hopes that, in future, they think carefully before effectively ‘biting the hand that feeds them’. Without the Foundation’s original goals, and without the amazing product they brought to market, the Kano kit simply would not exist. The Foundation is so open to questions and suggestions that Team Kano had ample opportunity to get their facts right – let’s hope they’ve learnt their lesson.
This is an opinion piece and, therefore, represents my opinion only. I have no affiliation to the Raspberry Pi Foundation, although I am a strong supporter of their mission to build up the next generation of programmers and hackers.
I am not a fan of the Kano. I feel that it became enormously popular because of some good marketing and product design. The heart is the Raspberry Pi and, although I think their documentation shows promise, it doesn’t make the Raspberry Pi any more user-friendly or kid-friendly by sheer virtue of being orange. I also think their keyboard is too small for long-term programming. But that’s just me!