Sunday 24 June 2012

Engaging your computing community by Alan O’Donohoe

Alan restores faith into those who feel that they have been left behind by the speed at which the ICT and computing express train has moved in the past 24 months. Alan had no programming experience, but two years ago, he decided he would learn how to code and would try to raise the profile of computing in his local school and community. His idea was to run #Hackdays. His motto was “Hack to the future”. Alan is overly modest with his achievements and he documents his successes on a blog.

One of Alan’s aims was to try to motivate students and instill a passion for computing so that they would choose GCSE computing as an option subject. An example of his success is the running of Dojo’s where students come and code and learn about computing in a Friday after-school club. He also decided to take his students to a bar camp, inspired by a father who controversially brought his son to a bar camp. At the hack to the future event in Preston, 360 people attended. A mixture of teachers parents and students attended, all keen to learn about computing! It was a real sight to behold.

He has also collaborated with Freaky Cloud and taught students how to hack. He claims not to have done any teaching himself at the “Hack to the future event”. Instead partner organisations such as Mozilla were at hand to run sessions, similar to those run at Mozilla hackspace. Enthusiastic as ever, he reinforces Peter Twining’s message (refer to earlier post) that we should not wait. Do not wait for Gove. Make stuff happen and things will happen to you.

Raspberry Jam

After much hype behind the Raspberry Pi He decided to create an event called Raspberry Jam The idea is similar to a musical jam where people who have instruments bring their own and people who don’t have instruments come along to watch/listen or play all the same. Raspberry Jam is an implementation of a CAS hub. The requirements are simple. All you need is:

-1 classroom
-Willing participants

He started with a small project which he knew would not fail. In fact it was his daughter’s project. @Rosie_Pi was a big fan of hammer beads. She had made video games characters before and so she taught a sessions which introduced the idea of pixels and all attendees in effect created pixel art. Some reproduced Mario characters, others consoles such as the iconic Nintendo Gameboy. He urged us all to do the same, to run an event- Start small, start simple. All we need to do is start something:

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