This looks like a really nice, simple, FREE tool for stop motion animation with a webcam or image files.
The silence that has descended on this blog has partly been down to another little change in direction for me as I have taken over leadership of our ICT & Business Studies department. As a Mathematician by nature this has been an interesting few weeks!
Out top priority is to try and deliver an ICT curriculum that is fit for the year 2011. Something that enthuses our pupils with the subject of ICT and offers them valuable qualifications that will stand them in good stead for their futures.
This seemed a simple task – how wrong I was!
Current ICT Curriculum:
We have traditionally put all our students through the OCR Nationals in Year 9, picking up the equivalent of 1 GCSE for each of them (well most of them). I’m no great fan of this qualification, in particular Unit 1′s trudge through Office products and folder structures. ICT is an optional subject at our school, those pupils who choose to continue it at KS4 complete the full OCR Nationals Level 2 course picking up the ‘equivalent’ of 4 GCSEs. I know there are some good units in there, but we’re increasingly finding that students are then having issues with our local colleges who do not value the OCR Nationals.
I must have read every specification out there for ICT based qualifications at Level 2 – not the most exciting of tasks I can assure you!
Other key reading this week has included two new reports:
The Next Gen report from Nesta “sets out how the UK can be transformed into the world’s leading talent hub for video games and visual effects”. Written by key players from both industries it’s a wide ranging review of the educations system from Secondary School through to University. It’s quite critical that our education system is not providing these industries with people with the required skill sets, and that this runs all the way back down to the skills we are providing pupils with at school.
Some key excerpts in relation to school based ICT:
David is one of our greatest games designers, I was excited to hear him talk as I’ve been playing his games since the 80s!
What motivates kids today? Fame, money, instant gratification. Not hard work and days of graft. So are today’s kids doomed?
Games are a great weapon for education, as Dawn greatly pre-empted. Games motivate kids in small easy steps with a real sense of progression and feedback, linking back nicely to Derek’s first talk of the day.
Ironically kids will do the hard slog ‘grinding’ in games, and di get the ‘secret learning’ that Dawn spoke of.
There is great learning even in ‘violent’ games, e.g. creation of content within Halo.
Crucially games are accessible. On consoles rather than PCs. There are not huge learning steps needed to produce something with the game creation tools. The motive and learning is there already as kids have played the games.
Most of the more raw tools are not easily accessed by teachers and pupils, e.g. XBox
David learnt on Acorns etc when programming was more accessible and ‘cool’.
How hard can it be to create something? Not that hard.
David and a group from Cambridge have come up with Raspberry Pi, a device and open source framework to help take things to the next stage and look at Programming. HDMI, ARM CPU, Linux, Wireless but made in small indestructible capsule. Could you give one to every pupil? Looking to trial this year.
Always had a problem with ICT, as every kid he talks to says ICT is dull! Focussed on MS tools. Such a far cry from the self-driven learning that happens and the skills needed for the industry. Turned interested kids off and confirmed to those with little interest and experience that it wasn’t for them. Showed UCAS data showing Computer Science applicants crashing with the first ICT students going through school.
Wants to give kids with no home PC’s access to the Web and to programming and all that it includes.
David showed a real passion for re-engaging our young pupils with computing rather than ICT and a good understanding of the issues that the discrete subject of ICT faces. I think Dawn & co’s work shows that we need to move away from ICT as a discrete subject sooner rather than later. And in it’s place push Computing as a more viable and interesting option. Interesting take on the access to traditional PCs in the home. I really need to accurately survey our pupils and find just what technology they do have available in the home.
This post is a bit of a diary / mind-empty on my progress so far in launching a Digital Leaders programme in our school.
I am excited to have been invited by Kristian Still to be involved with developing the idea of ‘Digital Leaders’ in school. Digital Leaders is an initiative started by Kristian Still at Hamble College in Southampton.
To quote Kristian: “The Digital Leaders are a group of students from Hamble Community Sports College that lead innovative ICT practice and regularly meet as part of the Digital Media and Gaming Club. They contribute to ICT innovation and curriculum development and contribute to school ICT policy.”
First up a disclaimer: The lovely people at BrainPop UK offered me & my school a free 3 month subscription to their site in return for a post on their new Maths videos, this is said post.
With that out of the way, what’s BrainPop? The website has videos for many subjects, all starring Tim and his beeping robot friend Moby. Subjects covered include: Science, English, Maths, Humanities, Arts, PSHE, Citizenship & Design & Technology.
Tim & Moby can probably explain it better than me, head over to there introductory video here.
Kodu is a new game programming language / tool from Microsoft. It has had a very low-key launch, I came across it as it was featured in the excellent Edge Magazine last month. Kodu is initially available to the public on X-Box Live Marketplace for about £3.50. I have been fortunate enough to be allowed on to the Beta of the PC version, this is currently only open to educators. You can apply to join the Beta by following the link from this MSDN blog. Watch this video from Microsoft, it gives you a quick feel of how the program works:
I have spent the whole morning working through the tutorials and examples getting a feel for what is possible and I have to say I am impressed by the scope of the package. I’m also a little bit overwhelmed. So I decided to try and build the bare bones of a game from scratch. I chose a tower defence style game as the mechanics of it are simple enough. What follows is a quick run through of my progress so far, I hope it serves as a good enough introduction of Kodu.
This Thursday I have an interview for the post of Director of E-Learning at a local High School. Inspired by Doug Belshaw’s recent interview/blog/twitter success, (congratulations again Doug!) I would appreciate my personal learning network’s help!
I have to present for 10 mins and also teach for 30.
My presentation is on “Your Vision for E-Learning and Strategy to Embed it In & Out of School”, I will particularly be involved in managing the VLE and developing E-Learning across the curriculum. I have attached the presentation below (speaking notes on click through), any feedback would be appreciated… Continue reading