Education, challenge .
I have worked as a teacher for my entire professional career, since completing my teacher training in the year 2000. I am driven by a desire to open doors and in my own small way to try to make this little bit of the world a bit of a better place to be.
I have loved technology, particularly electronics and computers for as long as I can remember. I consider myself to be very lucky in that I can focus my working life on bringing together these two great joys, technology and eduction.
In 2008, while working in my current school as a “Coordinator for ICT across the Curriculum” I was asked by the deputy head teacher to help them put together a system that would allow them to manage senior level sanctions. At the time the record keeping for discipline was based on an old paper based form method that had been migrated onto email. It was at best, unreliable.
This request led me to produce a web based system using Microsoft ASP.net that enabled teachers to log incidents of behaviour in a hierarchical management system that followed the organisation of the school and could be configured to work with any other school. The system became known as “IDOL” and allowed teachers, heads of department, school managers to all play a part in managing discipline and administering sanctions. This system helped our school to achieve “Leading Edge” status, a status it still retains now.
The Royal Society “Shut Down or Restart” followed by the dissaplication of the ICT curriculum and the birth of “Computing” in schools has been a breath of sorely needed air.
When this change first took place the school network provider was unable to provide the means to allow coding to take place in any meaningful way for various reasons. To get around this problem I created my own computer network based on Linux, using a few recycled desktops as servers and Raspberry Pi’s as client / student computers. We used this system to teach 2 years of GCSE Computer Science and introduce computing at Key Stage 3.
This year, this network has evolved into a new system using over 90 donated desktop computers running Edubuntu (these have replaced the Raspberry Pis as desktops, many of which are now being used to give to students for home loans), a number of Raspberry Pis which are used for aspects of Physical Computing such as “robotics” and “control”. My proudest achievement with this network to date is that it is no longer administered by myself but by a group of students who are in year 7, year 8 and year 9.
Recently we have had the extraordinary good fortune to work with Microsoft with an exciting new project to promote physical computing to young people. The Micro:Bit adventure has been an immensely thrilling adventure for myself and our lucky year 7 cohort who have had this preview into this extraordinary little device.
We have used the fabulous quick start guide and online tutorials to help us on a journey with our students that has led to, among other inventions, a “dance off” competition games, Star Jump counters and a helium balloon robotic caterpillar!
The most exciting aspects of the prospect of becoming a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert are that of sharing ideas and experience with like minded educators from across the globe. A thrilling added bonus is the prospect of trialling Microsoft Technologies for education. For example, two new developments from Microsoft I believe have outstanding education potential to Computing are the new Windows 10 IoT that’s made for small devices such as Raspberry Pi 2 and the Arduino and the forthcoming Hololens.
These together have awesome potential, the idea that at some point, sooner or later, I will be in the position to be able to play a part in opening the door to a whole new phase in computing in the physical world. It would be wonderful if I could play some part in the beginning of this, sooner, should I be successful in my bid to become a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert or later as I will bring these technologies into my classroom as soon as I am able.
Bringing together electronics, computing and love of teaching is a joy. To be able to do this on a larger scale with the help of Microsoft would be fabulous. It’s clear my individual passion in this area is shared by Microsoft’s desire to improve education through the use of technology.