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SELECTION GUIDE LattePandaRaspberry Pi

Best Single Board Computer (SBC) for Education

DFRobot Mar 22 2023 7720

Single-board computers (SBCs) can be a powerful tool for education. Here are some of the things that SBCs can do for education. SBCs can promote various subjects and topics for educators, including:
 

1. Computer Science: SBCs can be used to teach Python, C, algorithms, and data structures.

2. Electronics: SBCs can be used to teach circuits, sensors, and actuators.

3. Robotics: SBCs can be used to teach robot programming, control, and navigation.

4. Internet of Things (IoT): SBCs can be used to teach IoT architecture, protocols, and cloud services.

5. Artificial Intelligence (AI): SBCs can be used to teach machine learning, computer vision, and natural language processing.

6. Mathematics: SBCs can be used to teach mathematical modeling, simulations, and visualizations.

7. Environmental Science: SBCs can be used to monitor environmental parameters, such as temperature, humidity, and air quality.

 

Overall, SBCs can be a versatile tool for educators to enhance their teaching in a wide range of subjects and topics.

 

SBCs can be a powerful tool for education, helping to equip students with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the 21st century, such as collaborative learning, creativity and innovation, technical skills, etc.

So, how to choose a single-board computer for EDU?

Best Single Board Computer (SBC) for Education
 

How to choose a single-board computer for EDU?

When choosing a single-board computer (SBC) for education, here are some factors to consider:

 

1. Price

Single-board computers can range in price from less than $20 to several hundred dollars. Consider the budget of the educational program when selecting a single-board computer. You need to consider multiple factors, such as the number of students and the organization of the curriculum, when making cost assessments. Employing a collaborative approach is likely to be an effective means of reducing costs whilst simultaneously cultivating students' teamwork and communication skills.

 

2. Easy to use

Given that students are the ultimate end-users in education, usability is a crucial element to consider. This is particularly significant when catering to younger age groups, as usability and safety become even more paramount. Without these factors, the tool not only fails to facilitate teaching, but also presents unnecessary challenges for both teachers and students.

Education Single Board Computer (SBC) - student's robotics project 

Figure: Student's robotics project

Some single board computers are easier to use than others. Consider the technical skill level of the students who will be using the SBC, and select an SBC that is appropriate for their skill level.

 

3. Performance

Different single-board computers offer different levels of performance. Consider what kind of tasks the SBC will be used for and select an SBC that has the appropriate level of performance.

However, in educational settings, performance should be considered in relation to usage and price. For example, basic maker projects have relatively low-performance requirements, allowing for the purchase of lower-priced SBCs.

 

4. Detailed documentation and tutorials

Provide easy-to-understand documentation and tutorials to help students get started quickly and troubleshoot any issues they may encounter.

STEAM Education Mindplus tutorials
 Figure: Mindplus tutorials

Abundant and comprehensive materials can assist educators not only in mastering the tool, but also in developing localized course content based on the tool.

 

5. Offer easily expandable hardware interfaces

Provide easily expandable hardware interfaces and expansion boards, so that students can add components such as sensors and actuators to extend the functionality of the SBC.

Button sensor of lattepanda single-board computer
 Figure: Connect a button sensor with LattePanda

If students are creating robotics or IoT projects, they may require external components such as motors and sensors. Therefore, a crucial feature requirement is the ability to easily and conveniently connect external components.

 

6. Integrate cloud services

Integrate the SBC with cloud services, allowing students to access remote resources and data through cloud services, expanding the scope of their experiments and research.

 

7. Stability

Stability is also a crucial consideration for education, including the risk of hardware issues such as short circuits and breakages, as well as the risk of software maintenance instability.

 

8. Flexibility

Consider the flexibility of the SBC, including the ability to add and remove hardware and software components.

Teachers may install their own teaching software based on their needs, so it is important to ensure that the SBC can be configured and installed accordingly. It would be ideal if the installation process matched the environment and followed steps familiar to the teacher.

LattePanda - Pre-installed Win10 pro operating system in SBC
 Figure: Pre-installed Win10 Pro operating system in SBC

Overall, the best SBC for education will depend on the specific needs and goals of the educational program. Consider the factors above to select an SBC that is appropriate for the program. The following are several SBCs for different needs.

 

1. The most popular SBC - Raspberry Pi

There are many great options for single-board computers (SBCs) that are suitable for education. But the Raspberry Pi is perhaps the most popular SBC for education. In 2012, a foundation that focuses on computer science education in schools, the Raspberry Pi Foundation, officially launched the first single-board computer, the Raspberry Pi.

Raspberry Pi Single Board Computer
 Figure: Raspberry Pi

The credit card-sized Raspberry Pi computer, based on Linux, has created a cost-effective educational SBC with adequate performance. There are currently a large number of Raspberry Pi communities and tutorial resources with rich peripherals, making it a good entry-level choice for teaching Linux systems. Therefore, the issue lies in the fact that getting started may pose some difficulty for those who are not familiar with the Linux operating system.

Project - Python with Raspberry Pi
 Figure: Python with Raspberry Pi

 

2. The powerful SBC - BeagleBone Black

The BeagleBone Black is a powerful SBC that is designed for use in embedded applications.

In particular, a recently released product called BeaglePlay®.Connections make computing fun, collaborative, distributed, open, and easy. BeaglePlay® features a wide selection of sensor and prototyping system connections with the software and the performance features to support them, turning development work into play!

The powerful SBC-BeagleBone Black
 Figure: BeaglePlay®

 

3. IoT Python Single Board Computer with Touchscreen - UNIHIKER

UNIHIKER is a single-board computer that brings you a brand new experience. It features a 2.8-inch touchscreen, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Of course, just like other single board computers, UNIHIKER supports VS Code, VIM, and Thonny. The integrated PinPong control library allows developers to directly control UNIHIKER's built-in sensors and hundreds of connected sensors and actuators using Python.

UNIHIKER - IoT Python Single Board Computer with Touchscreen

Figure: UNIHIKER - IoT Python Single Board Computer with Touchscreen

UNIHIKER is equipped with light sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, and microphone. With a built-in co-processor, it is able to communicate with various analog/digital/I2C/UART/SPI sensors and actuators. And the built-in SIoT service on UNIHIKER allows users to store data through the MQTT protocol and provides real-time web data access. The best part is that all data is stored within the device itself.

You can effortlessly configure SIoT applications, switch between programs, and observe data directly through the touch screen. It is truly an invaluable teaching tool, requiring no additional configuration prerequisites, enabling a seamless and rapid initiation.

  • Built-in 2.8-inch Touch Screen
  • Incredibly Fast and Easy Start
  • Built-in IoT service
  • Can be Programmed Wirelessly
  • Rich Interfaces and High Expandability

In summary, if you desire to teach Python programming with enhanced interactivity, consider trying UNIHIKER. Its large screen offers a distinctive experience, allowing you to create engaging Pygame touch-based games - a truly remarkable endeavor. And if you aspire to delve into the realm of IoT and AI voice recognition with just a single board, UNIHIKER presents itself as an excellent choice.

 

4. The smallest x86 windows SBC - LattePanda

LattePanda includes everything a regular PC has and can do anything that a regular PC does. LattePanda runs perfectly on the go. Creating documents with Microsoft Office, playing HD videos and running Windows apps on LattePanda is exactly the same experience as using a regular PC.

Regular PC done by lattepanda single-board computer
 Figure: Regular PC done by LattePanda

 

LattePanda comes pre-installed with a full edition of Windows 10, including powerful tools such as Visual Studio, NodeJS, Java, Processing, and more!

  • Fast and Powerful
  • Compatible with a Wide Range of Accessories
  • Complete Connectivity
  • Integrated Arduino Compatible Processor

Overall, if you wish to teach programming on a Windows system and desires swift connectivity with sensors to create projects such as robots and IoT devices using Arduino, then LattePanda is an excellent single-board computer. Should you desire to utilize an SBC for Python instruction, the preliminary preparations with LattePanda are the most straightforward.

Project - MIDI Step Interface
 Figure: MIDI Step Interface

 

5. The entry-level AI SBC - NVIDIA Jetson Nano

The NVIDIA Jetson Nano is a powerful SBC that is designed for use in Artificial Intelligence and machine learning applications. It is more expensive than some of the other options on this list, but it offers a lot of power and flexibility.

The entry-level AI SBC- NVIDIA Jetson Nano
 Figure: NVIDIA Jetson Nano

Explore popular machine learning frameworks with free tutorials and open-source projects for all levels, and see your work on Jetson perceiving and interacting with the world in real-time.

Project - Robotics with NVIDIA Jetson Nano
 Figure: Robotics with NVIDIA Jetson Nano

 

If you wish to purchase a board solely for teaching basic entry-level programming subjects, then the Raspberry Pi will suffice. If you intend to use it for building more complex projects such as robots or IoT devices with your students, Lattepanda with its onboard Arduino support would be more convenient. If you plan to guide your students in studying the field of AI, then Jetson Nano would be a suitable choice. Ultimately, your choice of SBC should be based on your budget and requirements.

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