This morning my boys, Leo (7 and with Learning difficulties) and Charlie 3, spent some time again with the Beebot app from TTS. Those of you who know me will know that I have been a long-term Beebot fan. Therefore it was obvious that this app would be top of my list to try out when it was released at Bett this year.
However, though I’d played with and messed about a bit with it last month, it has not been until recently that I actually let my crack team of testers loose on it.
Whenever I give an application to children to try, it always strikes me that there is often a big difference between how children use an app/site/ desktop thingy to how adults would approach it. It is good for me to remember this when choosing which apps to populate our school network and devices with over the coming months. I would also advocate working with a group of ‘digital leaders’/pupil enthusiasts within the school to get this done.
Onto the Beebot app, this is currently Charlie’s favourite thing to do , next to of course watching the silver nasty man fight the Doctor in the video. The Beebot has to complete a series of challenges or courses ranging from two squares and your home to more complex paths and journeys.. With each challenge the player can enter their high score and there is scope here for revising a level and trying to beat your previous best.
The first thing to say about this app is that just like the real Beebot the activity afforded lots of authentic opportunities to develop positional and directional language. For example both children discussed with me and each other how many squares they need to reach the target and there were heated debates about which way was left and which was right. Of course you would have similar discussions with the real Beebot, but I think the path of square flagstones on-screen made it far easier to count and estimate distances rather than making use of small stretches of carpet .
One error children and NQTS on my training courses often make with the Beebot is forgetting to clear a set of old instructions, the app nags you to do this by flashing the x/ clear button after each set programme has been inputted. This is a helpful feature and totally non – intrusive of distracting.
The app is currently free and is therefore amazing value, perhaps in app purchases of a wider variety of courses or customizations maybe something to consider in the future, but it is still very useful in its current form. Beebot programming in Foundation and Key Stage 1 lays down the basis of later coding work with Kodu, 2DIY or Scratch. It is often argued that IPads are consuming content devices and so it is good to see an app that allows for very basic programming skills to be developed and honed. Though I do hope that teachers will continue to make use of the real plastic yellow beasties too.