Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Moulton College, Making Educational Escape Rooms

Picture of a building at Moulton College
I had the pleasure of running an Educational Escape Rooms workshop in the East Midlands last week at the lovely Moulton College. I do have a soft spot for land based colleges and enjoyed having a pootle around the grounds at lunchtime!

Anyway, we had a productive day, splitting into groups to create prototype escape room activities. To get a flavour of what was produced, we recorded all the final prototypes:

Anyone else fancy something similar running, just give me a shout!

Friday, 9 June 2017

Making educational games kit

picture of prototype game making kit
I've been updating the materials I use in the educational game making workshops I run occasionally. I thought it would be a good idea to turn them into a set of materials that other people could use at the same time as updating them for myself.

So the picture above is the final prototype - just waiting for the whiteboard to arrive (instead of the bit of paper the cards are resting on). With a bit of luck it'll all be finished in the next day or two - if anyone wants a set, I'll take some pictures next week of the finished thing and it'll be available on Teachkit.org.uk to buy. Along with details of the TeachKit Kickstarter I'm currently running!

Saturday, 3 June 2017

TeachKit Launch!

Yesterday we launched the TeachKit Kickstarter!

TeachKits are a set of teaching materials you get through the post to help you teach these things, especially if you tend to have "one-off" sessions with students and need something quick and easy to add into your teaching.

Depending on the topic, the TeachKit may contain lesson plans, games, books, handouts, print and digital resources, badges, or whatever else fits that topic well.
Boxes will be small enough to fit through most letterboxes without annoying trips to the post-office to pick them up!

Prototype box! Should fit through most UK doors...
Prototype box! Should fit through most UK doors...
The Kickstarter will fund an initial, quite generic box and help gauge interest in producing an ongoing series of them. Ideas for topics in future so far include: Evaluating your session; Ice Breakers; Search Strategies; Sources of information; Referencing; General teaching skills (including lesson planning); Critical evaluation; Developing a topic (research questions and first steps); Open licensing; Copyright / licensing; Plagiarism; Critical reading; Revision techniques; Escape rooms for education; and Making games for learning. If we create an ongoing series, they are likely to be available as a subscription, with each box also available for one-off purchase for a limited time afterwards. Estimated cost for future boxes is £40 each (+P&P).
The initial box available as a reward is:

Draft designs for the first box's materials.
Draft designs for the first box's materials.
Evaluating your teaching. This contains material to help collect feedback to evaluate your teaching session. It will contain a minimum of 5 ideas in the package, with materials including specially printed post-it notes, cards, and paper feedback templates - more will be revealed in the updates!

Please take a look at the full campaign and back us if you can, share with other interested people if you like it! http://kck.st/2svVc8c

Saturday, 27 May 2017

A possible TeachKit launch via Kickstarter

I've written before about the idea we took to LILAC and the Lagadothon before and towards the end of the post I said "I suppose I ought to think of a way to make it happen over the next few months...".
Well... I'm currently pulling together a Kickstarter to try and make an initial box happen, partly to levels of interest to see if it is worthwhile doing a series of boxes. While I am tinkering with it, you can preview it if you want!

If enough people are interested in the first box (a fairly generic one around evaluating your own teaching sessions / collecting feedback from students), I'll then work on a "Sources of Information" box to follow.

Take a look at the preview and see what you think - I'll launch it once I have prototype materials based on the work a graphic designer is doing for me, then link to the final campaign!

Sunday, 30 April 2017

New book chapter - Reasons to Play in Higher Education

cartoon of a university building
I've a new book chapter available: Reasons to Play in Higher Education*.
It is in a book pulled together by Matthias as part of the Counterplay festival and associated playful goodness :)
I pitched something on why play should be part of HE, including matching what Government and employers wanted out of HE and graduates when the call for papers came out. When I started writing it, I started to feel it all sounded a bit too serious, and not at all playful. So I scrapped everything I wrote, went to Collabhub (where people can pitch collaborative projects with students) and asked if anyone would be up for turning my ideas into a more visual form. Jonny Clementson came on board and I paid him to create a short comic based on my ideas... a bit of bouncing backwards and forwards with ideas and text, and we ended up with a 6 page comic!
So it's now in "The Power of Play", which has been printed, but I don't think it's available to buy yet! I've put my chapter online to download though, so I hope some people like it :)

*Full reference: Walsh, Andrew and Clementson, Jonny (2017) Reasons to play in Higher Education. In: The Power of Play - Voices from the Play Community. CounterPlay, Aarhus, Denmark, pp. 181-187. ISBN 9788799975204

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Room of stories - Viborg meeting

Viborg Library, a white building in the sunshine.

I was at Viborg library (picture above) earlier this week for a full day meeting helping to get the "Room of Stories" going. This is a project run by Marlene at Viborg library aimed at encouraging children (particularly boys) to read using an escape room.

It was an incredibly positive meeting with lots of lovely people, though I worry we left them with too many ideas to pin down afterwards!

As well as talking about results of the first meeting, ideas around escape rooms in general, and interviewing some local lads about what they enjoyed doing / playing, we split into 2 groups and tried to turn everything we discussed into some prototype ideas.

My group came up with a computer that had achieved a level of sentience and power that meant it was about to take over the world and destroy all humans. Luckily the lead programmer was a bit of a Science Fiction geek and had hidden override codes hidden in SciFi related clues in the building (so introducing lots of new worlds they could explore later in books).

sketch of a prototype escape room

The children would be split into soldiers and scientists to solve the puzzles and override the armed security systems (the soldiers - lots of physical type puzzles) and reboot / switch off the main computer (the scientists - lots of mental puzzles).

Can't wait to see how the project evolves over the next few months :)

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Lagadothon and LILAC17

Mystery box sat on a windowsill
Prototype box
So... last week I went to the fabulous LILAC in Swansea. Amongst other things, I did the Lagadothon with Jess, where we get to show a prototype (otherwise known as a bonkers idea from me) and get feedback on it.

My thing for this year was a subscription box of teaching goodies for librarians and learning support staff. So a box that would come through the post (3 or 4 a year, perhaps?) with a mixture of teaching ideas (lesson plans, alternative uses, etc) and games or other finished teaching interventions (things that could just be got straight out in a class), aimed at different levels (and extra suggestions for differentiation) and settings.

Each box would have a different theme (we took one full of stuff on "sources of information"), with obvious ones being things like "search strategies", "referencing", "Sources of information", etc., that lots of us teach, but also stuff like "critical appraisal", "academic writing", "Open Access", "copyright" - we ended up with a fair list of things thanks to the feedback we received.

People seemed open to spending anything from £20 to £50 per box, with it being a bit harder to pay for a subscription than individual boxes (though a subscription was seen as a great way of doing it!). The lower end wouldn't pay for much at all (and we'd need to send *loads* out to pay for things like the design work), but we could probably find something in between. It was also pointed out that both teachers and school librarians might well love these as it fits in with how they work anyway - they are used to paying for resources!

It went down better than I was expecting, so I suppose I ought to think of a way to make it happen over the next few months... which might also be an opportunity to redo some of the games I use in a more polished way, suitable for printing "officially" and sending out down this route. So I'd probably start off by redoing SEEK!, Sources, and the referencing games I use, as long as I can find (and afford) a suitable graphic designer and find the time to tinker!