Back to Uni & making way with a new MakerEd Research project.

Last year’s Jam Packed Tour was an amazing experience.  That’s a description in the cold light of day, and along the way I was known to have use figurative language comparisons along the lines of ‘bonkers, crazy and nuts’.

Not least that Alan and I had agreement from our employers to be released from commitments on ‘JP Fridays’ with our full-time role.  That was just the start of the fun*.

Throwing open the proverbial school doors with invites to community events on the Friday evening and Saturday more than cemented those initial Jam Packed aims and intentions at submission stage.

Along with Dave’s pedagogical and programming experiences in what I now know are generally (TNT) explosive situations, we soon realised what was possible with such a small team as we collaborated with the community.

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Manchester Makefest

The tour gave an opportunity to engage with thousands, literally thousands, of learners, teachers and friends (old and new) from the Tech, Education and Maker communities.  Some were established advocates and specialists, whilst others took the chance to come along and explore the community for the first time.

And that gave me so many moments to ask everybody questions, learn from each conversation and give another clear perspective and focus for personal next steps.

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Jam Packed Friday in Salford

Some of you know that, many moons ago, I started teaching with a Business Tech BEd. At the same time as following a traditional path teaching ICT I took the opportunity for personal CPD and eventually became a SENCO.

That background with special educational needs and inclusion in schools should go some way to explain my passion and commitment to extending opportunities for all.  And that’s where I became fascinated by the Maker Movement and Digital Making projects in education.

What’s next, then?

I’m excited to have been granted another sabbatical from work this year and have joined a small research team at Leeds University.  Most definitely a part-time commitment, this means that there’ll be a couple of us working with a small number of schools (teachers and students) in Leeds.  Note the similarities with a small team and huge development opps?!

The title of the research is ‘Digital Making across the curriculum: a socio-material intervention’.  In essence, it’s aim will be to identify ways that teachers explore the role of digital making in school, and within their curricula areas.

There’s more to add than that, but we’ll share through social media over the coming months.

That should also explain the recent travels to the FabLearn15 Conference at Stanford University.  As much as I’ve dreamt about visiting the resident sealions at Pier 39, and reflecting with a glass of wine, it was a personal development journey focused on digital fabrication activities in education 🙂

FabLearn summary gallery

And it was fun*.  Even now I continue to wear the rose tinted JP spectacles and the memory that with a small team, a round of large Americano coffees with extra shots and cake, anything is possible.

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