As an ICT Coordinator I used to attend the BETT Show with a different and perhaps naive head about me. I went like a DJ/toy collector looking for the next new thing. The experience of finding the new piece of software from 2Simple was akin to going to HMV or Woolworth to get the new records on Monday Morning
Except seeing new software was and is more than just completing a collection, it is not just another white felt tip bordered box on the shelf or icon on the server. You are looking with your lessons, schemes of work and just creative fun in mind. You should be thinking can I use this with my class and what will we do with it? How far can I push it and how far can I push them? But beyond this, you are thinking far beyond your own geeky application and more about the teachers who are reluctant ICT users, perhaps because they have limited training, they are scared that the children know more or they just don’t get it.
Products like 2Publish+, 2Control, 2Create a Story and (the zeitgeist busting title that hit before coding was hip) 2DIY excited me as they answered all of the above questions. They also offered ease of use and took just 20 or so minutes of less to demo and win over my teachers. Why and how they did this was due to their simplicity married with curriculum coverage. Beyond the rather obvious they must be simple because they were made by 2Simple argument, there was something deeper going on.
For a few years I joined the team at 2Simple and worked alongside and under Max Wainewright, the man behind anything that is creative, innovative and good in the 2Simple back catalogue. He is a man of great genius and vision, he found inspiration in everything from teacher blogs, Wired magazine, his experiences with his own children and his teaching background. He would meet regularly with ICT advisors and teachers and carry out informal research about the state of ICT and what teachers needed.
His office was a visual representation of his mind, drawings, mind maps , prototypes and lots of felt pens. This is how the best ideas came about, a discussion with colleagues would lead to scribbles with felts on piles of scrap paper. Within hours, Max would have bashed out a prototype and the building process of building a new product would begin. At this stage we’d offer further ideas and suggestions. These would be relentless recorded on a spreadsheet, this that were fixes or hampered functionality would be fixed in good time. Other “what if it did this?” type requests would be noted for consideration. The over-riding factor would be the fictional character of “Mrs Jones”, this was your standard teacher not your ICT guru who lived on Twitter. If she couldn’t use it to teach Year 2 on a wet Wednesday in the ICT suite then it wasn’t for us.
Sometime ago, Max left 2Simple and for a while he taught ICT lessons in a local primary. He brought his knowledge of programming, creativity and love of teaching to the question that many of us are still puzzling over. How do you marry coding, iPads and the ordinary primary class teacher? The result is Espresso Coding and I was privileged enough to view this with a live class last Summer, in an early Beta stage.
As with previous titles, it does not demand huge pre knowledge of IT and what’s more it will help you cover the breadth of the coding aspect of the new curriculum. From experience, your run of the mill Mrs Jones teacher will struggle with Scratch, Kodu or other tools, unless there is a good deal of hand holding. Espresso coding.
The image below sums up the spirit of both Max and Espresso Coding, in his hand you can see a PDA. The sharing of creations has always been important, except now it is on iPads. The menu of 2DIY shows a graduated approach that serves both teacher who can build up their knowledge and serves the curriculum too as units are built from EYFS upwards. The same is true for Espresso coding which builds from Year 1 unto the end of Key Stage 2.
The site is free to us until the end of October.