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Megadojo is growing. Starting at one venue – Limerick Institute of Technology – several years ago, this year it took place in six venues: Dundalk, Maynooth, Letterkenny, Tralee, Cork as well as Limerick which has never missed a year. Megadojo is a family coding day, filled with taster workshops, showcases and discussion rooms. Volunteers from the HEA institutions local dojos, as well as invited guests, take part with very good will to help celebrate EU Code Week with as big an Irish splash as possible.

I attended the Dundalk Megdojo, which was championed by Peter Gosling and his colleagues, and hosted in the fabulous PJ Carroll building of Dundalk IT. The labs, corridors, and open spaces were filled with robots, IOT showcases, Scratch lessons, physical computing workshops. The children and parents in attendance seemed very happy with their lot. And right outside the door was the Bumbleance from our nominated charity – families could get a tour of this very special ambulance which brings very young VIP patients to and from hospital from all over Ireland.

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My role at Magadojo Dundalk was to moderate the panel discussion entitle “females in IT”. I was impressed with the three young women, all recent graduates of DkIT, who now work in the IT industry as software engineers, designers, and QAs. Tara, Karen and Nathalia fielded questions from the audience which was composed of local families. It was interesting to note than each of them found it very easy to find employment in their field, and thankfully none of them had as yet met any gender barriers – long may that last for them in their careers. Impressive also was the regard with which they held their DkIT CS department – many of whom were present to support the occasion. I noted the presence of the both the Head of Department and the College President, not just for the opening photographs and ceremony but right thru the day and into the discussion. There was considerable interest in and discussion of the current introduction of Computer Science into second level schools and (soon) primary schools, with the parents present wondering how to have it in “their” school. So thanks to Nathalia, Karen and Tara for stepping up and providing a terrific debate.

Tare, Mags, Nathalia, Karen in Megadojo teeshirts in front of #DkIT stand.

Delighted to converse with these three young Women IT professionals – Tara, Nathalia, Karen – all recent graduates of DkIT

Multiply the energy and enjoyment that was palpable in Megadojo DkIT last Saturday by six, add to it the massive energy that will be released at Dojocon in Kilkenny next weekend, and top it with the week in-week out engagement at Coderdojo / Code Club events supported by Coderdojo Ireland and Coderdojo Foundation / Raspberry Pi worldwide – it is a very potent and prosocial investment in our future.

Over to you, Dojocon 2018!

Belated thoughts and thanks on last weekend’s NEARImeet in MIC, Limerick, Ireland, which was so well worth the early start and long drive there and back.

NEARI is an Action Research in Education network founded by Drs Mary Roche, Máirín Glenn, Catríona McDonagh and Bernie Sullivan which has an online forum and face to face meetings several times per year. Any researcher with an interest in reflection on their practice is welcome. Each meeting is well planned around a theme (this one was ‘integrity’) and provides the perfect mix of rich input from volunteer presenters combined with insightful audience discourse curated with the ‘light touch’ chairing (in this case by Mary Roche) that allows for interesting detours but keeps the group on point.

So as well as all the audience interaction, we were treated to six thought-enhancing inputs, from veterans and newbies alike:

  • Catriona McDonagh presented a lovely ‘prologue’ featuring the poem Integrity by Gary Dodd
  • Máirín Glenn’s thoughtful keynote set the the mood for sensitive reflection
  • Ruth Sheridan ignited the room with the passion with which outlined her final year Self Study Action Research (SSAR) project, set in the context of her very unique path to becoming a teacher
  • Bridget Flanagan updated us on her PhD research, and her reflections on her experience to date (at pilot stage) prompted a debate on the value teachers place (or not) on discussing shared values in the school
  • Colette Saunders told us of the Masters by Research she is undertaking in Sligo IT, situated in the world of those who study Early Childhood Education. This was an eye-opener and a study we will all follow with keen interest as Colette progresses.
  • Róisín O’Leary outlined her final year SSAR, and explained how it was helping her in her first year of teaching now. Her conclusion that she herself was a variable in her AR was key, food for thought for the more experienced teachers in the room.

Thank you to all six of you, and the others whose questions and conversation was really thought provoking and helpful. Special extra thanks to Ruth – sharing the car journey together from Ballinasloe and back was an experience not to be forgotten, and one to be repeated hopefully!

For date and venue of next #NEARImeet, keep an eye on the website calendar at NEARI events


 

 

Earlier in the year a message was sent to Wikispaces users that they would be closing down. Now if you look for the original Irish TeachMeet wiki, set up almost a decade ago, this is what you are greeted with…

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In order to keep as much information safely intact as possible, the site contents were wrapped up in a zip file (attached below) – it is not tidy, rather like one of those cupboards you open to have all the contents land on your head and spill on the floor – but it is all there (in two formats, zip files attached below). The three main elements from the “old” wiki have each been reproduced as a page on the “new” wiki

  • a Welcome / Fáilte page with overview and instructions
  • calendar of TeachMeets in Ireland
  • the list of volunteers who have organised TeachMeets in Ireland since 2009

PBworks may prove to be as temporary a home as wikispaces was but hopefully it will do for now, and some bright spark will work out a better way to carve a comfortable space in which to settle. The main thing is that this one is open to anyone in Ireland who wishes to access, use, and develop it.

Head on over to irishteachmeet.pbworks.com and have a look…if you are having a TeachMeet, sign in and add the details.Screen Shot 2018-08-28 at 14.44.04.png

[So it turns out a virtual house mouse can be as nerve wracking as a real house move. Having done one of each this summer, I’ll be happy to stay put in both instances for as long as possible. For the virtual move, big thanks are due to Richard Millwood and John Hegarty for wisdom, help, and advice. For the fact that the wiki exists in the first place, serious eternal thanks are due to John Heffernan – once a historian, always a historian.]

HTML archive zip file for Irish TeachMeet Wikispace 2009-2018 irishteachmeet_20180531-HTML

PDF file for Irish TeachMeet Wikispace 2009-2018 irishteachmeet_20180531

Screen Shot 2018-08-28 at 11.02.31One (and a half!) of the most enjoyable and memorable hours at the Scratch conference earlier this summer in MIT was the workshop to showcase ScratchEd Meetup. Attendees were not leactured about ScratchEd Meetup; we were welcomed by Karen Brennan, Alexa Kutler and the team, and launched straight into a typical event scenario which prompted several “I want one of these” moments. Best part was hearing from those from the worldwide network who have hosted meetups in their area – Leanna from Kentucky, Pau from Barcelona, Simon from Tanzania.

ScratchEd has long been an online forum wherein educators who use Scratch can convence. From this has recently evolved the ScratchEd Meetup, an occasional or regular face to face catch up session described as a “participatory professional learning experience”, organised with a Open Space / Barcamp / Edcamp flavour.

Ireland has so many users of Scratch in dojos, code clubs and classrooms around the country, it is a fair bet that many teachers and mentors would enjoy participating in a ScratchEd Meetup (especially topical with the background chatter about Scratch3.0). Plans are currently being incubated, so do keep an eye on the website at www.cesi.ie, the @cesitweets Twitter feed (and probably #ScratchEdMeetupsIE, though it is a bit of a hashtag handful) for details of time, place, and sign up.


SCRATCHedMEETUPS manifesto:

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For some background reading on the genesis of this peer designed participative professional learning, see this 2012 article by Karen Brennan and her colleagues: http://web.media.mit.edu/~kbrennan/files/Brennan_ScratchEd_Meetups.pdf

tmScratchMITIt was nano presentations all the way at the TeachMeet proposed by Drew Buddie for the 2018 Scratch conference at the Media Lab in MIT, Cambridge, USA. We got an end-of-the-day time slot, and a cool dark space (with super duper AV facilities) called The Cube.

As we’d all had a long long day attending, presenting, and workshopping at the main conference, all presentations were ‘nano’ in nature – short, sweet and kept to the point. Presenters from all over the world volunteered to share out their wisdom – USA (Mildred, Kathleen, Shawn), Africa (Max – Kenya, Rehema – Tanzania, Justin – South Africa, John – Nigeria), Europe (England – Andy & Richard, Ireland – Mags, Scotland – Drew & Rob, Austria – Matt, Netherlands – Hans), South America (Brazil – Ana). There was a ‘use tech well for the good of all’ thread running thru the evenings presentations.

Drew was MC; Russel Tarr’s trusty classtools.net Wheel Of Fortune determined the order in which our thirteen speakers took the stage; me and The Dromedary of Doom were (almost totally redundant) timekeepers; Richard and John were on-call  ‘technoroadies’.

classtools.net random name picker

classtools.net random name picker

There was a whole new zero hour aspect to this TeachMeet, which was a delightful as it was surprising. Although some speakers had signed up in advance in answer to an online invite, others signed up from the floor as the TeachMeet was in progress – by email or by sharing me a link to their presentation. Lightning speed internet reliability – connectivity ftw!

The regrettably missing portion in this TeachMeet was some built in conversation time, but the clock and our collective tiredness worked against us in this instance. However, judging by the responsive atmosphere as the presentations rolled along, I think it is fair to say the occasion wasn’t diminished in any great way by this omission.

Thanks Drew for prompting this, the third of hopefully many consecutive TeachMeets at Scratch.

Rehemma from Tanzania represents She Codes For Change

Rehemma from Tanzania represents She Codes For Change

See Twitter timeline for this TeachMeet at #tmScratchMIT

The Friday late afternoon Ignite Session at the 2018 Scratch Conference at MIT was a happy, lively, and informative affair. The audience, which of course contains all the Ignite presenters as well as curious others, was receptive and responsive. Lisa, our curator of this session, had the perfect light-but-ruthless (think USA version of Irish Mammy – Irish Mom perhaps?) touch that kept things ticking along, and the format of a series of short sharp 5 minute presentations followed by Q&A made for an engaging and learnful hour for everyone present.

CTwins Ignite Scratch Conference MIT 2018
CTwins Ignite Scratch Conference MIT 2018

Richard Millwood and I, on behalf of our colleagues Pamela Cowan, Elizabeth Oldham, Nina Bresnihan, Glenn Strong, and Lisa Hegarty, presented the work of the CTwins project, a year long Google funded computational thinking (CT) collaboration between Irish teachers working on Scratch in cross border pairs (‘Twins’). Our project aimed to increase teacher confidence through blended paired programming practice, leveraging the remix facility in Scratch to build in cooperative learning principles. It isn’t easy to fit a year’s work into a 5 minute space, so we just sped thru the headlines, doing out best to make the central threads clear.

Ignite is a rollercoaster format like Pecha Kucha, with 20 slides each auto advancing after 15 seconds – hence our use of PowerPoint (does anyone know how to autoadvance in Google slides?) for the slide deck, which is here. The questions from the audience were insightful – the time was too short for in-depth discussion so we pointed folk to the CTwins work-in-progress webspace here.

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Thanks for John Hegarty and Claude Terosier for catching and sharing some of the lighter moments:

Many thanks to all who made this the happiest conference hour of #ScratchMIT2018 – those who attended, Lisa our convenor, and co-presenters Chris, Claude, Ingrid, Janet, Natalie, Leanna, Bernat, Jens, John, Rina, Angela, Lucia, and Richard.

Forever thanks is owed to to Laura Tobin @choiceirregular for introducing me to @DublinMaker a few years ago. It gets better each year. Yesterday in Merrion Square there was such a carnival atmosphere, with happy famines being introduced to a terrific variety of activities and ideas. See here

First stop was at the TurtleStitch booth where Richard Millwood was playing pied piper again to those looking to design and stitch their own creation. Once again the multicoloured thread was a hit, and neither Richard nor the trusty Brother embroidery machine stopped treading for a minute all day. The interest generated in this form of computational thinking is growing in Ireland, mainly due to Richard’s efforts on behalf of both CESI’s computer science community of practice and Trinity’s CT4Life group; those curious to have a go should visit https://www.turtlestitch.org/

Then I watched for a while in awe as two legends of my life, Michael Grehan and Rory Goeghegan, engaged those round them with physics at the IOP Physics Busking space with David Keenaghan and Paul Nugent.

A visit to the CoderDojo Foundation stall was next, to say hello to Rosa, Vanessa, and listen in as Philip did a great job convincing visitors they should consider becoming a mentor.

I loved visiting The Dark Tent, as it meant I could finally meet @triploidtree (she who I admire so much via Twitter) and view the sparkly LED and suchlike delights on view:

Then it was off to find my buddies at the @MakerMeetIE double booth, a hive of family constructive activity….

Sheer joy (not to mention sweat and elbow grease) was glowing from this corner of Merrion Square – the teams own twitter gif says it all

There was much much more to be tried and tested – music, art, weaving, robotics, paperless programming. Live music and good value Street food added to the vibe.

Congratulations to all the volunteers and sponsors who make Dublin Maker happen, introducing families to all aspects of creative making. And Thank You.

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