Hi Laura,

It's great to hear from a teacher on this forum, my view of the classroom is based on a very limited exposure through my volunteer role so it's good to get a different view.

Agree with your point. I think a real problems is the amount of restrictions put in place on computers which make it very difficult to install new software / programming libraries onto the computers. Effectively you have a tool (the Windows computers) configured for using office tools that is then being used for teaching computing. It's like trying to teach woodwork without having a saw because they are too dangerous :-(

In the ideal world then when it comes to programming it would be nice for pupils to have their own dedicated computer or a virtual machine which would allow them administrator permission to install libraries as required (kind of how I can have admin access to a machine at my University in Atlanta but studying from the UK). In the real world I don't think this is practical (due to cost and infrastructure), but even without that there are ways that the computer environment can be setup that works better than others.

With regard to your blog post then I think some of that is what we are hoping to find a solution for. In particular the idea that you shouldn't have to manually install some of the libraries required, they should be a bundle or a simple install process that would make this all transparent to the teachers.

Your blog refers to PyGame which is quite frustrating, short answer is that is one of the things we are hoping to fix - long answer read on ...

I don't think that Pygame deliberately ignores Windows users. It's install process on Linux isn't particularly straight forward and in many cases no easier than the Windows install. The library is pre-installed on the Raspberry Pi which does make it easy, but that's because someone has already done the work in packaging it up and because the way that it is bundled with the image that the foundation puts together.

Regarding the documentation then what you see is quite common for libraries designed for programmers. The documentation is sometimes written for more experienced programmers and is not really designed for teaching children programming. You can see a similar thing when looking at libraries for other programming languages. Often you are better to look for specific educational documentation rather than the library description. If you are interested in pygame then I suggest you look at the online ebook at: http://inventwithpython.com/pygame/ - however there's now a simpler graphics library which is easier to use Pygame Zero.

Pygame Zero is much easier to program in and it's document is much easier to follow. It does provide installation instructions at: http://pygame-zero.readthedocs.io/en/latest/installation.html . The bad news is that it first needs pygame to be installed, but as long as you have Python 3.4 then it's as simple as following the link provided in the install guide and installing the latest windows install file. There are also versions of Pygame for earlier versions of Python, but it's not so easy if you have a new version of Python (eg. 3.5)

After installing pygame to install pygame zero on a computer you have administration permissions to it's simply a case of running
pip install pgzero
from the Windows command prompt (assuming Python is already installed and in your path).

There is a beginners guide at https://pygame-zero.readthedocs.io/en/latest/introduction.html which is better than the pygame one.

Pygame zero is still under development and there isn't much documentation beyond the link above, but what I've seen of it so far it makes graphical programming much easier for beginners. Over time it will hopefully become more popular and have more sources of documentation.


Unfortunately this still leaves you with the difficulty of getting it installed onto the school computers, and that is something we would very much like to fix and is the reason I revived this thread. The one thing we've worked out so far is that this is not a trivial thing and it's not so much the fault of Python or the libraries that have been created (although there is some element in that) but in the ways that school computers are configured and administered.

In summary we feel your pain and that example is exactly what we would like to help with. It doesn't sound like it will be a quick fix that can suddenly be applied to all computer in schools, but we do hope to find a solution that will help make this easier.



From: Pythonedu-wg [mailto:pythonedu-wg-bounces+swatkiss=emea.att.com@python.org] On Behalf Of Laura Dixon
Sent: 11 May 2016 20:46
To: pythonedu-wg@python.org
Subject: [Pythonedu-wg] Installation and deployment experience




(Long time digest lurker - I'm a teacher!)


Your emails prompted me to remember a blog post I wrote a while back whilst trying to install Pygame, but which I had not yet published (it is here http://wp.me/p24vku-ed ). No disrespect intended if anyone is involved with Pygame - I really *want* to use it, I just ran out of patience.


I completely agree with what you've said about being able to install things easily and quickly. However I don't agree with this bit:


"I think much of the problem is a hearts-and-minds issue though. Many teachers simply don't have the knowledge to see that shonky sub-contracted set-up is sub-standard and a terrible pedagogical platform."


Most teachers have absolutely no choice about how their network is configured :( Whether they know or don't know anything is irrelevant, because it's something they have no say in whatsoever. If you're going to go after anyone's hearts and minds it needs to be management as they are the ones who make the decisions.


Hope to lurk a bit more and reply soon! :)



Stewart Watkiss
@stewartwatkiss @penguintutor