Jams all over Glasgow

Just loving my Mini Game Jam seeing the impact its having in some schools and seeing not just the children enthused about coding in the class but their teachers too. Hard to believe I started this “crazy idea” 4 years ago with just 2 classes of P7’s (50 kids) and now it’s 9 events across Glasgow & a final event. Yes OK maybe I exaggerate but to me it was supposed to be a one off event until someone said to me are you doing this again next year then? I replied you must be kidding me on it was tiring and stressfull (in a good way though) but after thinking carefully when well why not then!! The rest is history.

To date I’ve now done 7 out of the 9 events this year with 331 children from 18 schools having taken part so far. Next weeks one is a special event as its the learning community thats supported my idea all it took was the and seen the potential it has for not only gamemaking/coding but also transition between primary & secondary school too. it will see Royston Primary taking part for the 4th year in a row and Smithycroft learning community for the 3rd year running. Thanks to Simon Kelly the head teacher at the time at Royston supporting my idea then letting everyone else in his learning community know that he saw the benefits of it for his school and others, this event has just gotten bigger and better.  It’s not only the learning community though thats been of support organisations like IGDA Scotland and Computing at School Scotland have been awesome (Luke Dicken & Kate Farrell you guys did an amazing job helping me out) Can’t forget John Lawson too – still want that Italian Jam Mr Lawson?

I’ve made a Sway https://sway.com/Pc1x1eJVGbEHOxS8 to showcase all the pictures from the events this year so far and will keep updating until they’ve all been down. Once all the local events are complete I will upload all the games to the Scratch site however in the true style of a game jam I’m trying to keep the theme secret from all locations until the last event has been undertaken.

 

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Teamwork

Scotlands first Redefining Learning Event

 

Thought I’d share my thoughts on the first Redefining Learning event to be held in Scotland at West College Scotland. It was an absolutely fantastic event and I’m already looking forward to the next one.

The afternoon comprised of a few talks before splitting up into various workshops led by Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts.  Andy Nagle from Microsoft discussed redefining learning and how technology is the class isn’t magic on its own however in the hands of the right teacher it can be.  Ian Stuart then talked about the use of Microsoft Products in Education, before showing us some great examples of how Office Mix, Sway and OneNote can be used in the class.  Next up was Marie Renton sharing her experience of using Skype in the class and in particular taking part in Mystery Skype sessions with classes from around the world. She has been using this in her school to teach French to the children in P5-7 in her school and explained how it worked and how schools can get involved. For me the best part though was as well as telling us all about the fab things she explained what difficulties she had to overcome in order to make the whole thing work and that is a lesson in itself if you are determined enough and persevere you can make these things work and her pupils certainly seem to get so much out of it. You can find more information on https://education.microsoft.com/ about Mystery Skype. Natalie Lochead shared her experience of using Skype connect with other schools to learn with them and also talked about how by using Skype in the class children can go on virtual field trips. Finally, David Renton spoke about coding in schools and the importance of coding & IT skills today as there is a skills shortage within Scotland with around 11000 jobs going unfilled. He talked about some of the tools available to teachers for teaching coding and then gave a demonstration of Kodu http://www.kodugamelab.com/ and TouchDevelop https://www.touchdevelop.com/ . Kodu is an environment that is suited best to P5-7 and lets the children create their own games within a 3d world. It’s really easy to program with simple commands that for the basis of while something is happening do something.  TouchDevelop is an online tool that’s more suited for secondary pupils and it lets you create apps and games from your web browser and on any device so you can start creating on the pc and finish what you are doing on your mobile device on the way home. Having used both of these tools I would totally agree and know that the pupils always find them great fun to use and create with.

CewN_nAW8AE1b60.jpg large                 Thanks to @drenton72 for the picture

After the talks we headed off to our workshops and I’m disappointed I never got to see anyone else’s. Marie & Natalie’s workshop looked at the use of Sway. Samina Hassan’s workshop was about using Office Mix and Nicola Paterson & Ian’s session covered using OneNote. However along with Andrew Minshall I helped out at the Coding session led by David. This was a chance for the teachers to get some hands on experience using Kodu or TouchDevelop and it was really interesting to see so many teachers wanting to try it out. I hope that when they go back to school they will keep on trying.  After the coding session myself and Andrew did a session on how we have used Minecraft in school. Andrew talked about how he has been using Minecraft Edu version in school and has been creating a model of the school (including teachers) with the children. As well as this the children have been using the Minecraft experiences as prompts for writing and they have even been creating spelling walls and peer marking each other’s spelling within their world. His next project is going to be creating a Scottish Landmark for the Build it Scotland project http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p031dzs4  Which leads me on to the work I have been doing with my local primary school and getting them involved in taking part in Build it Scotland http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03cddly  I used Minecraft too but on the Raspberry Pi which is a more limited version than the Minecraft Edu version. However when undertaking the project which lasted around 15 hours over a good few weeks over half of the lessons were spent learning about landmarks and planning out what we would do in Minecraft on paper and we also used some number cubes as well to create models in school before finally moving onto Minecraft and getting the models built in the world.  For me it was to show the teachers that while the may think Minecraft is a game there is a lot they can do to enhance children’s learning and there is a lot they can do without using Minecraft to start with. We did a lot of planning on paper first then used number cubes to visualise our models before finally getting on to Minecraft to build them. By using Minecraft as a motivational tool it encourages the children to want to work more and learn more about their topic and yes it is great fun for them when they get onto Minecraft to build their models. I left the teachers with some words from children I had spoken to before the event and they gave some advice to the teachers as to why they should use Minecraft with reasons including working together, helps us be more creative, learn new things and my favourite it it’s helped them realise and think more about computing as a career choice when they are older.

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Project Raintown App Development

I spent my Thursday morning working with 30 young people from 6 different secondaries across Glasgow creating apps using TouchDevelop for a project they are involved in with the charity Playlist for Life. Project Raintown has a few different strands for the young people and I am leading the app development where they are working towards creating an app to help evoke memories for dementia sufferers when certain songs from special times in their lives are played. It’s been a great project to work on and though we’ve had a few technical hitches the young people have all had a amazing app ideas which we are trying to take forward.

school appsCollectively we worked on an app together which gets people to add in their favourite songs to a playlist and can be found here to try out https://www.touchdevelop.com/jbjhff

Multiplayer Minecraft Pi (finally)

WP_20160225_09_36_07_Pro_LISo last week I finally discovered how to get a multiplayer game of Minecraft going on the Raspberry Pi and it was a lot simpler than what I had been trying. Seems all you need to do is connect your pi’s to a router and well that’s it really. The pi’s need an IP address in order to have a LAN game and by using any router (no internet connection is needed just the router) you can then get them talking to each other.

HOWEVER this does only work for 5 WP_20160223_10_02_06_Pro_LIpi’s connected on the same network. I used a router and a switch to enable me to have the 5 pi’s on at the same time. I tried to add more but it seems that 5 is the maximum you can have on a pi multiplayer game. I wish I had discovered this months ago however at least I know now.

Big thanks to David Renton (@drenton72) for helping me test the switch & router pi stuff and enabling me to be able to now run Multiplayer Minecraft.

 

Time to get Glasgows children Game Jamming (Mini Style)

Alice David Luke MikeWell it’s that time of year again everyone. Mini Game Jam will soon be upon us again and this post is a call for help.

My Jam has been growing slowly over the past couple of years and I am now in year 4 of it. With support from Glasgow City Council Education Services 10 Learning Communities across the city will be taking part with their associated primary schools and I am super excited about this. Winners from each Learning Community will go on to a final on the 7th June!

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I am looking for volunteers who are interested in helping encouraging children with their game ideas and supporting the on the day,  no prior knowledge of Scratch programming is necessary (I can provide some training on it). The event runs from 9.30am until 2.30pm.  If you can help me please contact me direct awilson169@gmail.com

Dates and venues are:-

School Date
Hillpark Mon 25th April
St Pauls Tues 26th April
Shawlands Wed 27th April
Whitehill Thus 28th April
Hyndland Tues 3rd May
Rosshall Wed 4th May
St Thomas Aquinas Mon 9th May
Holyrood Tues 10th May
Smithycroft Wed 18th May
Hillhead Thurs 2nd June
Final @ Mitchell Library Tuesday 7th June

 

Playing the name game.

If I were to say to you who is Daniel Middleton, Jordan Maron, Adam Dahlberg, Tiffany Herrera, Thomas, Beth Bates, David Spencer and Joseph Garrett would you think I was rambling on about a list of people I know?

Would you know them?

OK how about if I say The Diamond Minecart (DanTDM, CaptainSparklez, SkyDoesMinecraft, Ihascupquake, Choochoosgaming, Sqaisheyquack, Iballisticsqud and Stampyylonghead?

Any clearer now?

Who are all these folk?

There are of course YouTubers who have amassed billions of views on their channels and why?

Minecraft.

Yes Minecraft that lovely blocky sandbox game,20141113_161325 they all make videos around Minecraft whether it’s gameplay, modding, tips or tricks or even parody music videos these are some of the folk children are watching and talking about. Given all the attention Minecraft is getting at the moment I decided to do a little more research on YouTube and with the help of my daughters (who better to learn from) I discovered more to Minecraft videos than just Stampy and DanTDM. Stampy works with a few folk iBalisticSquid being one of them – they have build challenges a 15 minute section where their followers suggest something for them to build and both take on the challenge with viewers watching one channel or the other. Viewers then vote on who did the best build. The also do quests together amongst other things. Another regular with Stampy is Sqaisheyquack who is a Minecraft helper in Stampys Lovely world but also has her own gaming channel on YouTube too. Others include AmyLee33 and AshDubh. Stampy also has an educational channel as well now called WonderQuest.

ChooChoosgaming is a channel run by Thomas (no full name given) and he uploads regular videos about games he likes to play including Minecraft. iHasCupQuake run by Tiffany Herrera is a channel for all things geek. She covers games, baking and all things creative. SkyDoesMinecraft is another popular channel with over 11 million subscribers waiting patiently for those Minecraft video uploads. Most YouTubers videos are uploaded on a regular basis with the norm being that they are uploading new material on a daily basis. You only have to look at the number of views on their channels to see just how popular they are!

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OK so how is this relevant then? Given that Minecraft is so popular just now then why not tap into resources already there? Well as someone who has done some teaching with Minecraft this is another way to get started in the class. What better than to discuss or write about our favourite YouTube personality and look at the work they produce? How about some maths YouTube provide lots of information (number of subscribers/channel views/videos etc) How about making their own Minecraft video in the style of their favourite YouTuber or even just making their own videos? Or artwork on squared paper in the style of Minecraft. Even if you don’t have Minecraft on your computers in school there are still ways that you can use it to inspire children’s’ learning.

Maybe even before the learning in class just learn more about what the children are watching – it’s certainly opened my eyes. Ask the children who they watch and why, then go home and do that yourself. Nothing wrong with admitting to the children you don’t know who x,y or z are but don’t be afraid to learn more about x,y or z that’s how I’ve just spent my weekend.

The following videos I found to be rather amusing I should say but at the same time they are well done – 2 music parody videos. The first a Taylor Swift – We are never ever getting back together parody and the second a parody of Coldplays Paradise well worth a watch.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWL0UwFbkL8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3V7wWemZ_cs&index=1&list=PLm29cAuVva6_odcqD7Ti-RZOIrZKe5q9l

Just in case you’re still wondering:

Joseph Garrett is Stampylonghead

David Spencer is Iballisticsqud

Beth Bates is Sqaisheyquack

Thomas is Choochoosgaming

Tiffany Herrera is Ihascupquake

Adam Dahlberg is SkyDoesMinecraft

Jordan Maron is CaptainSparklez

Daniel Middleton is The Diamond Minecart (DanTDM)

With thanks to my wonderful daughters who have opened my eyes a little more to all thats YouTubey and Minecrafty! The above are just a few of many YouTubers who make Minecraft videos and once you getting talking to the klds am sure you will find loads more not mentioned here.

 

My busy 2015

While I’m now starting to get back to sorting out what I’m getting up to this year I decided to have a wee look back at all I managed to get to do in 2015 which it turned out was actually quite a lot. I had lots of fun and new experiences and got to work with lots of fabulous folk. So here a roundup of my 2015 (in no particular order):

I passed my level 3 City and Guilds Education and Training Qualification after completing quite a few night classes (CPD which I have greatly benefited from).

I passed my Drivers theory test (albeit 2nd time lucky). I’ve been taking driving lessons for we while now (yes I have failed the test once but fingers crossed for next time) for my poor instructors sake – the guy is a legend well he must be he’s still alive after having me as a student for so long!!!

I became a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert for 2016.

Spoke at the Raspberry Pi day in Glasgow about my Computing Club in Royston Primary School. I even got a really nice write up about my talk as well. https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/glasgow-raspberry-pi-day/

I helped facilitate a Minecraft workshop for girls at the Ada Lovelace event organised by the University of the West of Scotland.

I’m running a class in school as part of the Build it Scotland project using Minecraft on the Raspberry Pi to build Scottish landmarks AND I got to be on the BBC website eek! Here’s me and the kids I’m working with talking about it http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03cddly

I ran my Computing club in Royston Primary for the year – between Jan 2015 and June 2015 I had 3 clubs running and then from Aug 2015 to Dec 2015 I have sadly due to work commitments had to stick to 1 club running.20150616_143708

I mentored a team into the final of the Scottish KoduKup as part of my club in school.

I was part of the organising committee for the Computing at School Scotland conference in Dundee (helped out more on the day than beforehand – my timing was awesome arriving at the venue the night before just in time for pizza!!).

I spoke at a TeachMeet event in Glasgow (even finally got to meet the legend that is Ian Stuart) – twice actually about the work I’ve done with Scratch and also the work I’ve done in Royston Primary.

St. Brigids Primary in Glasgow invited me along to talk about careers in games for their careers networking event – cool as I got my pic in the local paper and was described by one child as the best person there.CU0n0O6W4AACqMp

Got to work with a group of pupils from a cluster of Secondary schools on app development as part of a larger project which will be continuing again soon.

I ran some CPD sessions for teachers to teach them about making games with Scratch in order for them to get their children ready to participate in the Mini Game Jams.

I organised 5 Mini Game Jams across Glasgow and co –organised 1 with the Caledonian Club at Glasgow Caledonian University which in total had 305 children participate in making games with Scratch for a day.

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I advised on a Mini Game Jam that was held at The Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment in California.

imageThe thesis has now been submitted– yes the force was finally with me and I finished it (did you just hear a whole load of folk go thank goodness for that – well I’m being polite the probably said worse they know who they are and thanks for sticking by me). 2016 will be year of the Viva!!

Oh yeah did I say I do work part time lecturing (a couple of places) and I’m mum to 3 very wonderful and understanding girls who know that all the work I do during the year is for their benefit as well and due to the nature of my jobs I’m super lucky enough to spend the holidays with them and maybe make the occasional Lego model!!

Looking forward to taking on 2016 and hopefully some new projects as well as the ones already in the planning.