for the fall 2018 semester in CMST 250 – Hardware & Networking class, I purchased six Raspberry Pi computers for the purpose of introducing this platform with its Linux system in the labs. The students were very engaged with this technology. They never imagined that such a powerful system could exist in a computer the size of a deck of cards for less than $50. Of course, they use smartphones that are compact in size and some are more powerful, but they don’t really think of phones as computers. The Raspberry Pi has all of the peripherals of a home PC like a mouse, keyboard, and monitor and it looks and feels like (it actually is) a real computer.
We learned how simple it is to download free software and get a system up and running in a short time. We also saw how easy it is to customize and add new programs through the CLI (command line interface). For many students, CMST 250 is the first time they have had to use a CLI. They find it more difficult than a windows based system, and it can be a hard sell with the Cisco systems we have always used. By using the Pi system, they really see the simplicity. By typing in a few commands, they can set up a working web server right on the Pi. Doing the same thing as we always have done on a Windows system requires going to the right website, downloading the right web server software, installing and configuring it. It is a much more complicated process to do the same tasks on Windows than on the Pi’s Linux system. I plan to continue using the Pi computers and develop new lab activities with them.