Monday, February 3, 2014

Earning Bett(er) Badges

2014 started off with a maker-enthused bang! From January 22-25th, the Bett Show took over London ExCel with 688 exhibitors showcasing their educational wares. Webmaker and a number of Make Things Do Stuff partners were fortunate to be invited to share the Stone Computers stand to run hands-on activities for teachers and students.

Technology Will Save Us were there, running a very cool session on programming their DIY Gamer. On a sheet of paper filled with blank boxes, the maker first designed an avatar and its movements in response to different key combinations on a game console. Then, by doing some simple programming on a computer, the maker brought to life his/her video game.

Next to them, Webmaker ran a Thimble workshop, introducing HTML and CSS code through the "Keep Calm and…" starter make. A few days earlier, I met 4 very cool young makers at Lutthworth High in Leicestershire. These E-leaders were recruited to attract teachers and show them how to do some simple coding at Bett. We spent Monday afternoon making things on Thimble, exploring different variables to play with, and discovering what worked and what didn't in a short period of time. After doing some homework (teaching a family member or friend how to make something on Thimble), they were geared up and ready to work at Bett. And work they did! Alongside community Webmaker mentors, FuzzyFox, and myself the E-leaders brought teachers to the stand with their smiles, and walked them through designing their very own "Keep Calm and…" make. Some of the #Bett2014 makes are pretty creative!

For teachers looking to get ideas before delving into digital making, Stone Computers organized a stand where various educators could share their thoughts and tips on getting digital in the classroom. There was an impressive line-up over the 4 days, including Mozilla's Doug Belshaw and Tim Riches talking about the value of integrating badges, and how they're aligned with our Web Literacy Map. Doug's slide deck is here. I had the opportunity to share how coding could be used as a medium for creative expression, and how it doesn't have to be the content focus in any classroom. I encouraged teachers to get their classes involved in upcoming campaigns, like International Privacy Day on January 28th and celebrating the 25th birthday of the Web this year. My slides are here.

All of these activities were neatly tied together with badges -- in fact, participants were earning badges for every activity they completed! Digital Me and the Badge The UK teams were buzzing about issuing badges for achievements and talking to teachers about incorporating badges in school. It was beautiful to see everyone excited about the upcoming Badge Kit, and discussing how this could be relevant with their students. It'll be even more interesting to see how everyone integrates it into their systems.

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