Monday, 23 August 2010

Scratch@MIT Conference

Wow, where did that summer go?!

Welcome back to the new school year. As ever this year looks to be a series of exciting challenges, just one of which is to spend more time blogging. The advent of Twitter has certainly cut down on my blogging but I'm determined to get back into it this year and help keep our community informed, as well as putting the world of education technology to rights too!

Last week's prep week wasn't quite as productive as I'd hoped largely due to the fact I was late to return after attending the Scratch@MIT event in Boston.

Massachussetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is pretty much at the pinnacle of academic technologies and is consistently ranked within the top five universities in the world. Attending a conference at MIT's Media Lab was a great thrill. The Institute has been responsible for LOGO and Scratch, two technologies I have used in schools a huge amount. Indeed, my first experience with LOGO was as a trainee teacher in 1986!

The four day conference gave me the opportunity to look at how others have implemented Scratch within their environments and to receive new ideas about ways in which it could be used in the future. We have been using Scratch since it was first released, initially in our Computer Club, but then within the technology curriculum. On Friday morning I contributed to a presentation looking at ways in which the technology can be moved into the Mathematics curriculum. It seemed to be well received, which was a bonus!

Below is a video put together by the amazing team that were recording the conference.

There were plenty of 'takeaways' from this conference, not least the reassurance that we are on the right track with our use of Scratch. We now need to look at implementing the program within different contexts throughout the school, not just the Mathematics or Technology curriculum. Areas such as language teaching and digital storytelling can also benefit and we need to pursue these this year.

There were a large number of international delegates present from outside the USA and a number of possible future projects were discussed.

Attendance at the conference strengthened my view that Scratch is the best piece of free software that schools can use. In fact, it may just be the best piece of software for education full stop.

Parents often ask me about software they can install at home that will help to develop their children. Well, the simplest answer is Scratch. It hits a number of areas, but crucially can aid problem solving and creative development.

Scratch can be downloaded (at no cost!) here.

1 comment:

Mrs. Tenkely said...

I would have loved to attend that conference! Scratch is software that I have played and tinkered with but have yet to use with students.