Over the past year I’ve been working with Fife illustrator Michael Philp on a comic book adaptation of the story of King Robert the Bruce, the Wars of Independence and the Battle of Bannockburn. The comic is now complete and has gone to print.
We’re launching the comic on 22nd March 2014 at Little Shop of Heroes, a comic book store in the shadow of Dunfermline Abbey where King Robert the Bruce is buried. Helping out will be actor Jock Ferguson of Herald Events who will be appearing as King Robert the Bruce! Also that week Strathleven Artizans will be unveiling a reproduction of the Bruce’s throne in Dunfermline, and costumed actors will be re-enacting the coronation. Later this year, in June, will be the Bruce Festival, a medieval fair in Dunfermline featuring battle re-enactment and jousting.
Find out more about Robert the Bruce at www.kingrobertthebruce.com.
It’s the end of the first week back at college after the holidays. What have I been up to and what is on the horizon?
- Finished One Game A Month 2013 and ranked number 8 in the high scores
- Started One Game A Month 2014 and am planning only two games this year, one made with my students (until May) and then a personal project after that.
- Teaching a variety of subjects this term – Fashion photography, Photography Graded Unit 2 (HND), 2D animation, 2D Animation (Advanced), Games: Media Assets, Portfolio Production, Portraiture, Corporate Photography. The new block starts in March, but most of my subjects continue until June.
- Anticipating a change of management at work. As part of the college merger process a number of head of department jobs have been advertised internally, so each department may have a different manager in the very near future. Uncertain times!
- Started teaching on the Adobe Generation Animation course this week and am looking forward to starting a new course on Video in February.
- Heading to Aberdeen in February to run an animation workshop at the Aberdeen Learning Festival.
- Looking forward to participating in, but not teaching, the Adobe Generation App Design & Game Design courses later in the year.
- Looking forward to publishing my first comic book in March and releasing a short film in April (details soon).
- Hoping to start on a World War 2 history project in the Summer.
This week’s big news from Adobe was an update for Flash that includes support for the HTML5 Canvas element. Up until now the CreateJS toolkit avoided the use of the canvas tag, so this update has been long awaited.
Included with the update are additional HTML5 Canvas code snippets that allow you to construct interactive applications by choosing common scripted actions from a list. The Code Snippets panel has been around since Flash CS5 (I think), but so far it has only been for Actionscript. The arrival of code snippets for HTML5 Canvas will make it much easier to create simple interactive animations directly in Flash.
I hope to have some examples to share with you soon, but for now a screenshot of the new feature will have to suffice!
Learning through Gaming is part of the Festival of Dangerous Ideas 2013. Held at Dundee College, the conference featured a series of presentations from educators and industry specialists on the use of video games for education.
Along with David Renton of Reid Kerr College I presented a session on current classroom practice, with reference to a variety of video games that are being used in education. Part of the session looked at a recent competition, designed as part of the conference, to get students designing an ideal learning environment using the Minecraft videogame.
- Lemonade Tycoon
- Brain Training - schools use Brain Training [BBC]
- Professor Layton & the Curious Village - Presentation from Clackmannan Primary School
- Lego Star Wars
- Manga High
- Polarity Shift
- Time Explorer
- Skills Express
- Game Dev Story
History project involving video games
Serf’s Quest 2004 - http://www.r-e-m.co.uk/rem/xrem.php?T=26281&view=
BBC Games - http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/interactive/games/
How can teachers inspire creativity in their classroom? Lead by example and demonstrate what can be done with a bit of spare time and a little bit of know-how.
During the Spring break I worked on 3 video projects. I shot & edited a video of a local family event, The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, made a video about the Declaration of Arbroath with a Scottish actor and edited a video of a flash mob that was shot by two of my students.
This week, Adobe UK are hosting workshops for teachers at their headquarters in Maidenhead. Teachers are exploring Digital Creativity and how they can use digital tools across the curriculum in creative ways.
I did a short presentation for the event via Adobe Connect on the subject of computing in schools.
The presentation is available here - Computing in Schools presentation
The Luddites were a band of artisans who rebelled against the introduction of machinery during the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century, claiming that the machines would lead to unemployment. The term ‘Luddite’ has come to be used as a derogatory term to describe those who eschew technology.
With the great advances in digital technologies, both at home and the workplace, one might expect modern day Luddites to be a dying breed. Fortunately this appears to be the case, however a few still linger on, and worryingly, in the education sector.
I had the great displeasure of meeting some Luddites this week whilst leading a workshop for college lecturers at the University of Dundee. While the vast majority of the delegates (studying for the Teaching Qualification in Further Education) seemed comfortable with modern educational technology and approaches, there were a few technology naysayers that took me by surprise.
In my workshops on the Flipped Classroom I talked about my experiences of using video lectures with two groups of students, and the subsequent changes to my classroom practice. I explained that it seems a waste of time to be teaching basic facts in class, the lowest levels of Bloom’s taxonomy; that time could be best spent working with students on more difficult tasks that require higher order skills at the higher end of the taxonomy. Flipping the classroom involves taking the traditional homework tasks and doing them in the classroom in a supported environment, and taking the traditional ‘delivery’ of knowledge out of the classroom and onto the web, usually in the form of video. The idea seems perfectly acceptable to me, and although student results increased after introducing the approach, it became obvious that a minority thought it was complete madness.
One lecturer claimed that putting his lectures online would lead to him being put out of a job. Another claimed that using Facebook with students sent out a message that a lecturer would be on call 24/7, and that he would never do it. I tried arguing against these claims, but it was clear that there was no room for movement on any of these opinions. I explained that the same claim about lecturers losing their jobs had been made with the introduction of Virtual Learning Environments a decade ago, but the job losses hadn’t happened. I also explained that I didn’t get so many questions from students via Facebook or other means that it had become an intrusion into my personal life. However, so vociferous were the modern day Luddites that it completely spoiled the workshop for me, and I expect it did so for some of the delegates. From trying to suggest a new approach to teaching and learning I’d ended up battered and bruised on the ropes.
I was quite shocked at these people’s attitudes. The blank refusal to accept a technology, based on incredibly weak arguments, was not the attitude I would expect of an educated person in charge of educating modern day youngsters. I honestly wonder what kind of experience their students have in their classrooms and sincerely hope my own children never face such narrow minded educators.
Later I posted some questions on Twitter, asking peoples opinions. I know it is asking the converted (they wouldn’t be on Twitter otherwise), but it went some way to restoring my faith in education after a day that frankly dented my hopes and aspirations.
Here are the questions and the responses I received:
It’s 6.30pm on a Saturday & I just answered a college student’s question on Facebook. Do other lecturers do this? Is that acceptable?
- I say yes and yes. We’re in their world performing, not the other way around.
- Anytime, any place anywhere – it’s OK so long as you have a Martini.
- I am more impressed they are thinking about college at that time
- I do the same on our #glow blog. I figure if they’ve taken time to ask, it’s only polite to give a prompt reply. #neveroffduty
- I once answered a (school) student’s question in the middle of hosting a dinner party …
- I do. Keeps their engagement and ensures that at least some of the FB time is about college.
- Totally acceptable & fab they’re thinking about college work on a Sat! Great use of social media-hopefully not tons extra work for you
Does putting your lectures online in video format jeopardise your job? Had this response at a workshop on Flipped Classroom. Thoughts?
- If “teaching” is standing and the front and reading/speaking things which simply watching a video could replicate, then maybe…but I think that /could/ say more about the teaching strategy being used than the implications of flipping a classroom…
- I use @udemy quite a lot and it’s great for learning. I think more lectures should be done like this. Learned so much from them…Well a video can help someone complete a task and learn to a point, but without the support I think it can be hard to go further
- Not if you keep updating and improving them. The online lectures probably serve as recruiters.
- “Any teacher that can be replaced by a machine should be.” Arthur C. Clarke – It’s up to us to change… I found (this quote) via Sugata Mitra, whom some accuse of trying to do teachers out of their jobs……!
- Teaching is so much more than delivering a lecture – worrying if this is what others perceive our role as!?
- If learning could be done by all from flipped resources, then teachers would already have been made redundant by the Web.
Presentation notes and links from my TQ(FE) workshop at the University of Dundee, 30th January 2013.
The Big Haggis was a celebration of Robert Burns held on January 26th in Kirkcaldy in Scotland. The event was arranged by Kirkcaldy’s business improvement organisation, Kirkcaldy4All, and students from around Fife took part as cast and crew on the day.
As party of my ongoing plans to get work experience for my students I gathered volunteers to help with the event.
Students from Carnegie College built The Big Haggis website and also filmed the live event so that it could be made into a DVD and promotional film for future events.
The website was built using Adobe Dreamweaver and was constructed by student Grant Hynd, who has started his own web design company. The website was seen by local company Comvista who liked the design and are now negotiating a contract with Grant to build another site.
On the day of The Big Haggis students Graeme Slight, Michael Philp and Iain Duncan worked with myself on the filming of the event. The first section of the show was a series of stage performances at Kirkcaldy Town Square and the second section was a street theatre performance of Tam O’Shanter.
The event was filmed on a combination of DSLR cameras and handheld camcorders, with audio recorded from the stage’s PA system. The final film will be edited using Adobe Premiere and made into an abbreviated online version and a DVD that will be distributed for free.
The students gained a lot of experience on the project and Jock Ferguson, director of the street performance, is keen to give more students work experience on future events.
Here’s a snippet of our film work -
I’m a doodler. I scribble in the margins of jotters, write all over my printed notes and have been known to draw on the table.
Here are some of my drawings from work meeting over the past year.
The themes include College regionalisation in Scotland, Education Scotland Inspectors visits and funding cuts…