“Wow, that makes learning to program really accessible. I’ll finally have my household of robotic servants in a few years thanks to this device and the army of young techno-geniuses it creates” is the usual response when I tell someone about the Raspberry Pi. Since discovering the Raspberry Pi I have been a strong believer in the foundation’s mission to inspire a new generation of makers and computer programmers. The hardware cuts the cost barrier for children who want their own computer, around the price of a Christmas present from Grandma. The default operating system and software also remove the ridiculously steep learning curve of installing a powerful Linux operating system and using it to learn to program. In other words, they’ve got the hardware and software sorted.
The major challenge that faces the Raspberry is the access and visibility of teaching and learning resources. Without access to resources many people will have no guidance or starting point for learning to program. Guidance and support is essential when starting on the road of programming. Starting is the biggest and hardest step in the journey and without a helping prod in the right direction, the sad fact is many beginners will give up and let their Raspberry Pi gather dust. Saying that, luckily there are some amazing resources out there, the only problem is finding them and knowing where to start. That’s where Raspberry Jams come in.
Due to the magical powers of their founder, Alan O’Donohue, Raspberry Jams have been around longer than time itself. In essence Raspberry Jams are gatherings of Raspberry Pi enthusiasts and beginners from all walks of life. They’re held worldwide and during the Jam a series of presentations, workshops and informal chats give attendants the opportunity to share their ideas, resources and enthusiasm.
Raspberry Jams are therefore an amazing place for beginners to start their journey with the Raspberry Pi. By the end of any workshop, participants, young and old, are guaranteed to learn new skills. Through networking (in the business buzz-word sense, not in the wires, internet and magic sense) like-minded people meet and share ideas. Some walk away with solutions to their problems, many are inspired to try something new and others join forces to collaborate and develop resources that others can use.
At Raspberry Jams, amazing people come together and do amazing things. The community that surrounds the Raspberry Pi is just as essential as the device itself. What often evades our gaze is that, as with any technology, the Raspberry Pi is not about circuits and bits, it’s about people. They are the people on the ground sharing their knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm so that the Raspberry Pi can achieve its mission. They provide the spark that ignites the imagination of young ladies and men, who in a matter of years will achieve things that far surpass our dreams of robotic servants.
Of course Raspberry Jams are just one piece of the puzzle. Over the life of this blog I will focus on making learning to program accessible. Look out for my upcoming blogs on free resources for learning to program on the Raspberry Pi. I’ll also recount my experience at my first Raspberry Jam in another post where I’ll give you concrete examples of the value of Raspberry Jams.