A couple of weeks back I went to London to observe an EU project meeting as external evaluator. The project is a direct descendant of the Playful Coding project and has some of the same partners, so it’s good to see what they’re getting up to after that project ended. Inventeurs is a project which looks at transnational collaboration on coding activities, particularly to support migrant children. The UK partner this time is London South Bank University (LSBU) who I have done quite a bit of work with in the past.
LSBU are based at Elephant and Castle which is pretty near where I grew up – we started our meeting at their campus and discussed progress on the work. As part of the project the partners are creating a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) to get teachers involved in the project, covering the pedagogical aspects and the technical aspects. It was really heartening to see the progress being made on this; it will be a very useful resource for teachers getting into coding and collaboration.
After lunch, we walked to a school in Walworth, which took the group down East Street Market and Walworth Lane, both roads I remember clearly from my early years in London. I suspect I was the only person in the group feeling heavily nostalgic, everyone else was simply captivated by the colours and the sights. It’s not tourist London.
In the first school we took over a business studies classroom and talked about management of the project; the classroom decoration was apt for Mireia’s talk!
At the end of the school day we travelled further south and had an evening session in Peckham Library, looking at collaboration between classes and how we can get schools in different countries to work together on an extended topic over 10 weeks. There are some difficult hurdles to jump here – some of them are to do with prior knowledge and pedagogical issues but I suspect the biggest hurdle might turn out to be term dates.
At 7 we left the meeting and headed to the dinner location (missing the first goal in the England-Croatia game…). Moving around London by tube during a heatwave is not that fun.
The following day we started early at Southbank Engineering UTC, a school in Brixton. We were at this school for the whole day and met some pupils who’d been taking part in the project. The school’s emphasis on engineering and technology was really cool, the walls were papered with fascinating posters and the students we spoke with seemed very engaged.
School dinners are school dinners though. This photo captures the dining hall before the kids showed up (I’m not going to post photos of random schoolkids on the blog). Having spent quite a lot of my life in south London comprehensives, the atmosphere during school dinner was familiar and I have to say not entirely comfortable.
In the afternoon we spent most of the time discussing project plans and how things are going to work for the final period of the project. In September, the project opens up to other schools and becomes open for anyone to join so there are a lot of things to get right (training, connections, the organisation of school partnerships). The idea is that two classrooms in different countries will work together on a 10-week project, devoting a couple of hours a week to it, building up a collaborative animated story online using scratch. It’s a great, ambitious project, involving tech, art, storytelling, transnational collaboration, and themes of social justice.
There was a lot of work done that afternoon, but we did pause for a game I call “Europeans trying Marmite”.