I’ve had another cracking day today!

I’ve been at the Salford TEN Centre again, this time supporting Derek (RM) as he delivered a ‘Control’ session to a group of year 4/5s (8-9 years old?). He started by talking about the sort of things which are ‘controlled’ in everyday life. The kids were great and came up with all sorts of ideas. They were then introduced to the kit we were going to play with. Well – not so much ‘play’ as ‘construct’.

The morning’s task was to follow pictorial instructions and to construct a crocodile.

The crocodile was then controlled by means of some software which they programmed by dragging and dropping ‘start motor’, ‘hold motor’, ‘reverse motor’, ‘add sound’ etc. controls onto the desktop. The crocodile then opened and closed its mouth as a sensor told it to.

After dinner, they were given a choice of about ten other models they could build and were set free! It was an absolute blast. Between them, they made each possible model.

This time instead of following printed instructions, they followed instructions online. Although many of the young learners still sought assistance, they did so less often than they did in the morning. Whilst I realise that they were inexperienced in the morning, they were also less reluctant to go back through the online instructions to check their progress than they were with the paper ones. They felt much freer using online instructions than they did using paper ones. A lesson for us?

They made all sorts of things, birds, monkeys, goalies, cranes, spinners – all sorts. Fabulous.

Chroma key

For the first time in ages, I have had a very busy week.

On Monday, I made the first of my three visits to Blackburn College (see and returned there again on Wednesday and Friday. Both of these later workshops had the same content at the first and were received in a similarly positive manner. Congratulations then to LSIS for releasing the money for this type of bid, aimed at releasing staff for essential training, and similar congratulations to Blackburn College for securing the well-worded bid. Every one that attended a workshop took something away with them; most took an awful lot more than ‘one’.

There are just two further workshops to deliver in Blackburn now (a full day and a ‘twilight’).

As a complete change on Thursday, I was invited to the Salford TEN Centre to work with RM. A group of year five learners were coming in from a local school and I’d been asked to help facilitate the daylong session.

I’ve worked with RM before, both alongside them at a secondary school in Salford and for them at a couple of others. This was the first time I’d been asked to work in their Salford HQ – The TEN Centre. And, it was the first time I’ve worked with learners of this age. It was great.

They were in the centre for a ‘creative’ day and were to undertake all stages of creating a DVD! They had to storyboard their film, act in it, partake in the shooting and direction of the film (using chroma key techniques) and finally edit it. And they did brilliantly. It was really cool to listen to their ideas, to witness their energy and excitement and to work with them on this project.

I hope I can do it again.

Blackburn College again

Today was the second of five days work I have with Blackburn College. They have been lucky enough to win one of the LSIS bids aimed at upskilling staff in the use of technology for teaching and learning. (I’m sure it had a far grander name when the bid was announced but any way … they asked me to help).

Last week’s workshop day was reported via an earlier blog post and this one was fundamentally similar – just longer. The group was in the same room for six hours, four of which were mine!

They opened at 9.00am with an overview of Read and Write Gold (RAWG) and an introduction to the college’s preferred Mind Mapping software (the name of which I can’t remember – blush). I knew these timings before I set off, because I was also to deliver an input on the My Study Bar memory stick during that time. I wasn’t sure that the group would cope with such an intense day but they were SO ENGROSSED in RAWG (and later, the mind mapping) that I had to re-assess my opinion pretty quickly.

I opened my 11.00am session by discussing my plan for the rest of the day and seeking their agreement for the way it would work. We began with an introduction to Audacity, iPadio, Cam Studio and Photo Story 3 before spending an hour of hands-on. The group were already on a high following the RAWG session but climbed even higher whilst playing with (predominantly) Photo Story 3. They came up with some nice ideas for use with learners and it seemed a shame to stop and ‘do’ the agreed My Study Bar (much shortened) session.  However, even though they had seen the glossy RAWG stuff, they were still impressed with the FREE products available on the memory stick.

Following lunch we began with some work on mobile learning (specifically texting using the Xlearn TextWall) and Bloom’s Taxonomy. This was followed by the main Web 2.0/Social Networking session, which despite the length of time they’d been in the room – was still devoured with pleasure.

Big ‘ups’ to everyone from Blackburn College today. They survived a long and very intense day’s CPD on two difficult subjects.

LSIS Funded Workshops

I think, on the whole, that I’ve come out on top this week. I delivered 2 x 3hr workshops on Mobile Learning, Web 2.0 and Audio/Video technique on Thursday and spent two days preparing for those! However, I will use the same preparation for four more days I have planned with this college.

I feel to have won, despite the many technical disasters that were encountered during the workshops.

A third of the workshop was to work with Audio and Video creation and editing (without a camera). Audacity and Cam Studio were to be supplied on a memory stick but as we started, we found that the sticks were corrupt – so couldn’t use those tools during the morning session. Photostory 3 wasn’t installed in the room we were in, so we couldn’t look at that either. However, I was able to demonstrate by using my own machine. I also demonstrated via my own machine too.

The college forbids the use of Twitter and FriendFeed (something about them being classed as dating sites!) so the participants were unable to use Screenr themselves – because it needs a Twitter login. This wasn’t a problem for me because I already have a Twitter login, but the vast majority (17 of 19 this pm and 12 of 13 this morning) could not process their videos without registering. Neither could we make all of the microphones work – which made Audacity a bit of a trial later in the day! So that I could demonstrate, I created files on iPadio and edited those, but none of the participants seemed keen to register and do the same. As I say – a disaster, needing much more thought before I go again? At least i will have access to Photo Story 3 for the next visits.

The next time I go, I will have an extra hour, which will also help.

The Web 2.0 part of the workshops went really well. There’s so much I COULD do in a session like this that It’s hard to decide which bits to leave out. I demonstrated several sites but gave the group an exercise which required them to explore various ‘categories’ of site: image editing; mind maps; photo storage; video storage; Wikis etc. and to comment on their findings on a PiratePad Wiki. I know they enjoyed the time to explore but they didn’t do much commenting on the PiratePad – I suppose no one wanted to be the first one to write a serious comment! The Mindmaps were much appreciated by the morning group but not really understood by the afternoon group. it was much the same with photo editing, the morning participants ‘got it’, the afternoon group just didn’t get it at all.

In fact, many of the morning group told me as they left that they had been dreading three hours on a subject they just didn’t appreciate, but that they were invigourated now and keen to explore the subject more. I’d shown Lilian’s text wall this morning and immediately, several of the group had burst forward with ideas for use and asking how to get hold of it. When I showed them the Wordle link, some nearly wet themselves! It was really encouraging to have teachers so engaged and so inquisitive.

I’ve decided what changes I need to make to my approach for next time and am now really looking forward to them.

I just wish that there were more opportunities to open people’s eyes like this.