Last week

Been a while since I have posted and trying to get back into it again so thought I’d start by sharing a Sway of what I got up to in work last week it definitely wasn’t an average week thats for sure.

As well as the kids I got the chance to show some more things to teachers at a CPD session held at West College Scotland last week which you can read more about here http://www.westcollegescotland.ac.uk/news/2017/february/23-renfrewshire-school-teachers-develop-their-technology-skills-at-wcs/ where I had them making music and using jelly babies to make sounds with the Microbits.

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Overall it was a great week and I’m seeing the potential of using the Mircobits. The kids loved being able to not only have a program run on screen but also then be able to transfer it to a physical object and have that do something. I’m now looking at making more music (found a cool tutorial that showed me how to do Star Wars – see video below) and seeing what else can be done with them.

The tutorial for Star Wars came from MicroMonsters Youtube page thanks for a great tutorial https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y32FhgOVZnM

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.

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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.