Sunday, 16 July 2017

Learning Theory possible game

Inspired by Eleanor Hannan's SOTL game at Playful Learning Conference, I wondered about making a learning theories game. Her game asked people to consider different Epistimologies, Research instruments, etc., to combine into a research design. I wondered if I could do something quite different, but based around learning theories, concepts, and interventions. So taking something like the HoTEL learning theory wheel as a starter, we could pick a "Learning paradigm" (supported  by a key theorist), then a "key concept", perhaps a teaching approach that would fit underneath that, then a particular type of teaching intervention or interaction. So we end up picking teaching interventions that fit within a sensible framework at the end, rather than just because we fancy doing them.

It could even just be a set of cards that link these together, rather than a game too... I'll have to think about this one soon.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Using games to teach Maths to Biologists

a game being prototyped
At the end of last week, I ran a workshop in Sheffield (in the Diamond building at Sheffield Uni). This one was for a group of people who all taught maths to HE students in the biosciences.

Most of them seemed to be having similar problems, dealing with students who could massively vary in terms of maths knowledge and ability, some of whom don't want to be doing maths at all.

Hopefully, some of the games will help them address these issues... and more importantly, the process should help them create more polished games for the students in future!

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!

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Huddersfield Escape Room Workshop


I ran another Educational Escape Room workshop in Huddersfield last week, at the lovely Heritage Quay! It was a full day of following a set process to create some prototype educational escape room ideas - videos of the prototypes are here to watch.

Amy has blogged about the workshop properly (rather than this quick reflection & video link from me!).

Thank you to everyone who took part and worked hard throughout the day :-)

I collected some feedback at the end of the day, and I was particularly interested in whether I should let attendees play some examples, or whether that would influence them too much (so they'd copy and get less out of it!). The general feeling seemed to be that they'd appreciate examples to play, perhaps later in the session (so it didn't influence too much!), so I'll have to think about how I can tweak future workshops accordingly.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Helsinki escape room workshop and feedback

I ran a workshop in Helsinki earlier this week - a full day of creating educational escape rooms with a lovely bunch of Finnish librarians.

All the groups created prototype escape rooms during the day, I was really impressed with the variety of things they created and the ideas they came up with.

Next version of this will be an open workshop I'm running in Huddersfield on 13th April, bookings are via Eventbrite for anyone who wants to come along.

The quick (post-it at end of session type) feedback from the Helsinki event is below:
  • This was an awesome day! Thank You!
  • Really enjoyed today's session, it was thought-provoking and engaging. Thanks.
  • Thank you for the workshop. I got lots of good tips and will definitely use this method.
  • I learned about escape rooms!
  • I'm happy with this workshop, plus I had a lot of fun! I liked the balance of hearing / listening and creating by ourselves. Andrew was very helpful whenever we got stuck with our plans. Altogether I feel I have some new ideas and methods to bring back home.
  • I liked how I had to think in totally new ways!
  • An interesting (and exciting) workshop! I'm not sure if I can use this in my teaching. Thanks!
  • Thank you for an inspiring day! :-)
  • Thank you! Great day and collaboration. I got new point of view to training. This helps me with my Masters in Library Sciences.


Thursday, 9 February 2017

Lots of open workshops!



I've got lots of (open) workshops coming up! All subject to having enough people book on them, but we have:

Teaching Tips for Librarians, Friday afternoon, 10th March, Sheffield.
https://shefftips.eventbrite.co.uk
This covers some of the basic teaching mechanics and is aimed at librarians. We look at: Learning Objectives; Lesson Plans; Assessment; Evaluation and some related issues. We'll give practical help, tips, interventions, and templates to use in your own teaching sessions, with particular emphasis on "one-shot" teaching sessions and active learning interventions. It will run as a highly interactive workshop.

Making Educational Escape Rooms, All day Thursday, 13th April, Huddersfield.
https://hudescape.eventbrite.co.uk
A full day workshop making educational escape room style activities, aimed at anyone interested in using escape room ideas for teaching.
The day will be hands on, with a process scaffolded to enable attendees to work in groups to create a prototype of an escape room style activity. By the end of the day, all attendees (in their groups) will have sketched out an escape room style activity and started to create the puzzles that make up that activity.

Creative Teaching Double Bill, All day or half day Friday, 5th May, Manchester.
https://mancdouble.eventbrite.co.uk
Both these workshops are aimed at anyone interested in creative and playful approaches to teaching, particularly in FE and HE sectors. 
In the morning will be:
Picture This! Using the ‘Writing Essays by Pictures’ approach to teaching academic practice
Writing Essays by Pictures is a workbook for students who need help with researching and writing their first evidence based research essay for university. It explains academic practice that often remains hidden to students through everyday analogies and offers activities that allow students to explore the research and writing process in the step-by-step way of painting by numbers.
All attendees will receive a copy of 'Writing Essays by Pictures' (list price £15).

In the afternoon we have:
Making (non-digital) educational games
In this afternoon workshop, we will follow a carefully scaffolded process to prototype educational games. Working in small groups, you will create a prototype game and share it with your fellow participants in just 3 hours.This process can then be followed after the event to quickly and easily create educational games and playful learning experiences for your learners in future.

Finland workshop

I've a few workshops booked in over the coming months, plus more are in the planning stages. One I'm particularly excited about is in Helsinki at the main University Library! It's been arranged through the STKS (Finnish Research Library Association).
I'll be running a workshop around creating escape room materials for libraries - using the workbook I've created as a template / scaffold for the day.
I won't have much of a chance to have a nosey around, but still excited about spending 24 hours in Finland!

The day after I'm going to Tallinn, Estonia (a short-ish ferry ride away), finishing off setting stuff up to run all the training, etc., that I do through an Estonian company as an e-resident, which I'm hoping will be much easier admin wise than in the UK.


Friday, 6 January 2017

Making Escape Rooms for educational purposes

Front cover of "making escape rooms" book

Front cover of "making escape rooms" book
So this little thing arrived today! A workbook I've created to scaffold the process of creating educational escape room games... the idea being it takes you through a process, with sections in the book to fill in and slowly create an escape room type experience, but for educational purposes.
I might make it available for other people to buy in a little while, but for now I want to try it in a workshop or two with me facilitating it.
Currently wondering if I organised a workshop for the Easter vacation, whether that would suit people... and whether to organise it close to home (Huddersfield, Leeds, Manchester type area) or further afield. Any preferences, comments, suggestions, offers of venues, let me know!

Monday, 2 January 2017

A couple of experimental books

I've just created a couple of experimental books, both will be deliberately short and cheap, first is available through my website from the 2nd week of January.

Mini Book of Teaching Tips for Librarians book cover
The first book is a small (A6) sized, spiral bound book, printed on a heavy paper stock. It contains over 50 teaching tips and teaching ideas for librarians. Originally intended as a collection of (large sized) playing cards, I thought I'd try it in this format to see if people found it useful - a similar size to a large, Tarot sized, card, in spiral bound format it works out much cheaper to buy! This will only be available for a limited time, then revised based on feedback - I particularly want people to tell me if they like the size (A6) or would like it larger (A5?)! Because I *really* want feedback on this, the first few copies will be free P&P (in UK), and it will just cost £9.95 in total to your door...
The second will be based around creating escape rooms for educational purposes... not sure when this will be available, or if I will do a Kickstarter or not (creating a limited edition 1st of all, before releasing it in an alternative format?), around escape rooms with this workbook as a reward. More news when I decide!!!