Context with data or data for context? And make learning that context.

Pedagogy before technology and learning before data.

As an educator that’s always going to be my perspective, and in recent years an exciting (sometimes puzzling and frustrating) arena with data has been developing in education. Purpose and context are paramount to the effective use of big and small data in schools, and obviously centred around it’s impact on learning.

Successful intervention strategies have been guided, and learning gains demonstrated, by data in schools. Nothing new there.

The most positive digital storytelling examples with data, perhaps small data on a spreadsheet, have visualised impact on learning.  Nothing new there.

Now as teachers embrace more online tools, students create more digital learning footprints and leaders incorporate more data systems to inform their visions for learning, the big data phenomenon is reaching schools.

With the Codifying Learning project in Hull, our on-going focus is to explore learning analytics in primary and secondary school settings.  The context? A learning context supporting learners to learn and teachers to teach.  Nothing new there.

What is new are the tools and dashboards that can additionally support questioning and decision making in schools.

Big data and small data impacting on learning to support personalise pathways to success. Just an example of course.  Context with data or data for context?

That’s for school leaders to decide once they consider the needs of their students and use the data to help decide on their own questions.  Nothing new there.

Postscript: Context around spending 12 months learning to dance was research into learning analytics and taking models from outside of education which impacted on performance.  Learning. Nothing new there.


January Raspberry Jam in Leeds

Our first Raspberry Jam of 2016 was again hosted by our friends at Swallow Hill Community College: 

We offered a hands-on workshop to introduce those interested (or intrigued) in programming with Python through gaming, and there were also a wide range of individual questions supported by new collaborations and ongoing sharing:

  • How do I know if I’ve got the most up-to-date OS on my SD card?
  • How can I use Raspberry Pi in my classroom?
  • What kind of activities and challenges can I offer to my students who have a range of special educational needs?
  • Show me how to control my radiators with a Raspberry Pi!
  • I’ve used Scratch to make games.  What else can I do?
  • Show me what my main Christmas present can do….and help me with how I can explore…..look, it’s a Raspberry Pi with an electronics kit 🙂
  • How can we support our son/daughter at home with a Raspberry Pi?
  • Now I’ve used Pygame to play and hack, how can I code my own games?

Retro Pi Challenges

What else happens at the Raspberry Jam events in Leeds?

Well, with the wealth of experience and help available building up each month, wonders never cease 🙂


Home automation

A few snapshots below of what we explored this week; in addition to activities with electronics and IOT, soldering on-hand support, Gaming Central, Media Corner and robots galore.


Pygame Pairs – one hacked, the other played!


Computing convos


Celebrating an LED moment!


New discoveries with Pimoroni’s Flotilla set


Wearable Wonders!


Introducing KEITH the robot


Leading the way with loombands 🙂

Want to come along and join us next month?

Register here for free tickets when we’ll meet again at Swallow Hill on Wednesday 3rd February.

Solving real life problems with Flotilla: Successful pairing of clean socks from the laundry basket

Our Flotilla kit from Pimoroni arrives and the first project is 4-fold:

  1. Check out ‘intuitiveness’ in the usual household fashion of what’s possible in 10 minutes without reading the instructions.
  2. Explore how we can expand IOT possibilities with Raspberry Pi and learn more about inputs/outputs with these new sensors.
  3. Have fun and a bit of mischief (that’ll be me reassigning chores and trying to make them exciting).
  4. Seeing an end to the realisation during work meetings that you’ve put on odd socks in the dark winter mornings.

Set up stage 1: A quick sudo aptget update and upgrade and we’re away:


Set up stage 2: An even quicker reboot and we’re connecting and tinkering in Rockpool.


Set up stage 3: A few decisions about colour sensors, RGB values and inputs/outputs. And then a quick test to get the ‘colour-o-meter’ working over random moving pets and confectionery wrappers.


Set up stage 4: The great sock-o-meter test (actually, the better test will be next week in brightly lit meeting rooms).

The mind wanders….

Bit of an update with another one to come mid-January:


Update: I should’ve remembered that you can’t rush the full beauty of a Christmas amarylllis!  Here it is……..and the truth sensor worked.

PINK, definitely PINK 🙂