A Palm-sized Desktop Computer for $35 – Raspberry Pi 4

By Jim Shimabukuro

Officially released today, 24 June 2019, is the Raspberry Pi 4 single-board computer that fits in the palm of your hand. It’s made by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, a UK-based charity (nonprofit) that works to put the power of computing and digital making into the hands of people all over the world. They do this so that more people are able to harness the power of computing and digital technologies for work, to solve problems that matter to them, and to express themselves creatively.

The foundation provides low-cost, high-performance computers that people use to learn, solve problems and have fun. They provide outreach and education to help more people access computing and digital making. They develop free resources to help people learn about computing and how to make things with computers, and train educators who can guide other people to learn.

For more on this palm-sized computer, click here.

The base price for the 1GB RAM computer is $35.00. For $55, you can get the 4GB model.

Here’s a two-monitor setup with the Pi 4. For information on how to set it up, click here.

What you’ll need to run the Pi 4 as a desktop computer:

  • A 15W USB-C power supply – the foundation recommends the official Raspberry Pi USB-C Power Supply
  • A microSD card loaded with NOOBS, the software that installs the operating system (buy a pre-loaded SD card along with your Raspberry Pi, or download NOOBS to load a card yourself)
  • keyboard and mouse
  • Cables to connect to one or two displays via Raspberry Pi 4’s micro HDMI ports
  • One or two HDMI monitors

Additional information:

For a list of places to order a Pi 4 and a list of accessories/products that were designed for it, click here. Scroll down to the “Buy” section.

Is the Pi 4 for you?

No, if you simply want a Windows-type desktop that’s ready to run out of the box.

No, if you’re looking for a powerful desktop for intensive apps, media, games, etc.

No, if you’re looking for a portable computer. The Pi 4 is tiny, but it’s primarily designed for use with desktop accessories.

No, if you’re uncomfortable with “raw” technology such as circuit boards.

No, if you’re not prepared to work with an OS (operating system) that’s different from Windows and apps that are unfamiliar and less user-friendly.

No, if you’re not prepared to spend a bit more than the advertised $35 price tag for required or handy accessories.

No, if you’re not prepared for a learning curve that may be steep in the early going.

Yes, if you’re interested in exploring low-cost alternatives to hardware (and software) prices that are dictated by a handful of powerful companies.

Yes, if you’re intrigued by and curious about this tiny wonder.

Yes, if you’re willing to spend about $100 (for the computer and accessories) for an opportunity to play with this amazing innovation. This $100 estimate is based on the assumption that you already have monitors, a keyboard, mouse, HDMI cables, memory cards, and portable hard drives.

Yes, if you’re willing to accept the fact that it may not be able to do all that you need or want to do with a desktop.

Yes, if you’re aware that the Pi 4 will become obsolete when newer and better versions are released in the coming years.

Final Note

The Pi 4, officially released today, is already out of stock in the list of U.S. suppliers. If you want one, you’ll need to get on the waiting list.

A Plea to Simplify the Definition for ‘Online Course’

By Jim Shimabukuro

Three years ago, in 2016, four students (one was possibly an instructor) had a discussion on Reddit about an online course offering with a “lecture required” component. The original poster was byu:

Posted byu/[deleted]
[Subject:] Online Classes – Class Component: “Lecture Required”?
Signed up for a couple online classes and under the Class Details section is says Class Components: Lecture Required. The class is definitely listed as an online class, room says online and meeting day/times TBA, so what does this mean? Video lectures? Just making sure I don’t have to physically show up for anything.

TurtleWaffle: It could be a blended class. I had a class like this and we had 5 Saturday class sessions during the semester as well as the online stuff

Rhynocerous: In my expirience it means you have to physically show up at some point possibly for exams.

corner0ffice1: It sounds like a class with both an online lecture and online lab. You always enroll for the lab component, and then tack on the lecture, so SIS is just telling you that you need to enroll in both components. It does not always mean that you have to show up for anything in person. It SHOULD say if you have any on-campus obligations in the course description, but you can also ask the instructor to confirm.

If we took a moment to actually listen to our students, we’d learn that conversations like this pervade the higher ed landscape. In nearly all colleges, “online” is a confusing course label that can mean any number of things that fail to meet student expectations. byu’s “Just making sure I don’t have to physically show up for anything” captures students’ primary concern in selecting an online class.

Implicit in their expectations for an online class is the idea of not being required to “show up” in a specific place at a specific time. For them, online is virtual, a convenience that allows them to engage learning from anywhere at any time. Thus, synchronous meetings are also not part of their online expectations. “Online” ought to be reserved for courses that are completely online and completely asynchronous. Sync requirements are a real problem for students who choose online courses for their anywhere/anytime advantage. Many online administrators and faculty don’t realize that sync requirements are a carryover of F2F into the virtual environment. Requiring students to meet at a specific time is tantamount to requiring them to meet at a specific place.1 Continue reading

Discussion of Ken Robinson’s ‘Bring on the Learning Revolution!’

Jim ShimabukuroBy Jim Shimabukuro

In our current discussion on “The Zen in Online Learning” (17 June 2019), Harry Keller says, “Life is about joy. Find your joy, and immerse yourself in it” (19 June 2019). His comment reminded me of Sir Ken Robinson’s TED Talks “Bring on the Learning Revolution!” (Feb 2010).

The transcript is available here. This video runs 21 minutes, but Robinson’s wit and wisdom make it seem much shorter. His message is similar to Harry’s, which is to change our model for education to develop and celebrate each student’s talents, interests, and dreams. Please make the time to watch this video. It was released in 2010, but its message is relevant today.

Also make the time to comment in the forum attached to this article. (If you’ve never posted a comment in ETC, it will be held for approval. I’ll be standing by to speed up the process. Once approved, future comments will be automatically published.)  There’s a wide-ranging discussion on the TED site, so in our discussion, I’d suggest focusing on the takeaway for higher ed. What are your thoughts on Robinson’s call for an “organic” revolution? How does this apply to higher ed?

If you’d like to submit a longer comment as a stand-alone piece, email it to me at jamess@hawaii.edu. If this is your first submission, then please append a brief (1-to-3 line) professional bio and snapshot.

Related Videos:
Sir Ken Robinson: Do Schools Kill Creativity? Feb 2006 (20 min).
Sir Ken Robinson: How to Escape Education’s Death Valley, Apr 2013 (19 min).

The Zen in Online Learning

Jim ShimabukuroBy Jim Shimabukuro

When the center monitor in my three-monitor setup failed to turn on this morning, I didn’t panic. It happened before, and reinserting the HDMI connector into the graphics card usually did the trick. So I turned the computer off, crawled under the desk, unplugged the connector, and plugged it back in.

I turned the computer on, but the monitor remained dark. No problem, I thought. Try the same maneuver again. I did, but it still didn’t work. I was beginning to panic a little. I turned it off and checked the back of the monitor to see if the power and HDMI connectors were tight. I unplugged and plugged them back in.

The three-monitor setup for my desktop computer.

I turned the computer on again, but the monitor was still dead. Panic was setting in. I tried the remote control to see if the settings were correct. (This monitor is also a TV set.) Nothing came up on the screen, not even the menu.  Continue reading

Using the CRA to Promote Digital Equity: May 14-15, 2019

By Vic & Bonnie Sutton

Ways to use the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) to persuade banks to invest in projects to promote digital equity was the central focus of a meeting of the National Collaborative for Digital Equity (NCDE), held in Washington, DC, on 14-15 May 2019.

The meeting was hosted by the National Education Association and brought together some 70 participants from across the country.

The CRA is a federal statute enacted in 1977. It requires the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of the Controller of the Currency (OCC) to encourage financial institutions to help meet the credit needs of the communities in which they do business, especially in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.  Continue reading

The Future of AI in Education?


Will Technology Ever Replace Teachers? by Katie Fong, Forbes (1 Apr. 2019)
The authors’ answer is yes and no.

Ready for the Future of Education with Artificial Intelligence? by Holly Morris, Education Week (9 Jan. 2019)
The author contends we need to prepare our students for the future.

AI in schools – Here’s what we need to consider by Neha Shivhare, The Conversation (7 Mar. 2019)
Regardless of what we want or think, AI will continue to be part of the educational landscape.

Should the question “Will AI replace teachers?” really be asked? by Livia Bran, NEO Blog (21 Mar. 2019)
The author doesn’t think so because it’s the wrong question.

THE 2019 Impact Rankings: US Colleges Outshined

Jim ShimabukuroBy Jim Shimabukuro

In the Times Higher Education (THE) global University Impact Rankings released today, U.S. colleges are woefully underrepresented in the top 25. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the top U.S. college in the rankings at 24th. The top five are from the Commonwealth realm: (1) University of Auckland, New Zealand, (2) McMaster University, Canada, (3) University of British Columbia, Canada, (3) University of Manchester, United Kingdom, (5) King’s College London, United Kingdom.

THE, which is headquartered in London, publishes “the only global performance tables that assess universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs]. [It] uses carefully calibrated indicators to provide comprehensive and balanced comparisons across three broad areas: research, outreach, and stewardship. This first edition includes more than 450 universities from 76 countries.”  Continue reading