Be Very Afraid (now in the sixth year) is an annual event organised by professor Stephen Heppell and the team at heppell.net to showcase (for one day only!) the very best learning in technology projects from around the UK in one place. This year the event took place at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster, London. Visitors from all over the world came to see BVA, and were impressed with the variety of the projects being showcased.
This year the Cleveratom team brought some learners from City College Norwich’s Regional Centre for Learners with Autistic Spectrum DisordersRugroom project to show off their hard work on one of the stands.
Rugroom is a project the Cleveratom team have been involved in since 2007, and the team at City College Norwich have built the only learning centre dedicated to learners with Asperger’s Syndrome in the country. Cleveratom work hand in hand with the college, its staff and learners to embed engaging, enabling and inclusive technology into learning.
Around 180 learners with Asperger’s now attend and add value to the college life, the Rugroom has gone on to win awards at national level, including the Association of Colleges Presidents Beacon Award.
This year learners from Norwich came to London to showcase the newRugroom Radio and TV offering which the learners have been working hard together to define, refine and build. Typically learners with Asperger’s are challenged in communication, collaboration and co-ordination, and Rugroom Radio & TV have been a great way to experiment and challenge the learners. More about Rugroom Radio and TV can be found here.
Learners were on hand to interview visitors, and connected live (via Skype) to their purpose built studio’s in Norwich to engage the London visitors with learners working live on radio and television productions.
To find out more about Be Very Afraid go here.
The photographs Matt from Cleveratom took at the the event are here.
This is not the first time we’ve brought learners from Rugroom to the event, read about the previous Be Very Afraid (October 2008) and their involvement here.
Cleveratom team at the event: Matthew Eaves, Hal MacLean, Sharon Fealy.
Some images from the event:
As part of the process students were introduced to iStopMotion and GarageBand in the morning, and set a tough challenge in the afternoon to action their new found skills to create a scene from Doctor Who.
Here are the completed projects, all finished within the two hour deadline.
The groups of four students per project worked well together to complete the task.
Thanks to Ms Murray and her team for organising a fantastic event.
Representing Cleveratom were Hal MacLean and myself (Matthew Eaves). We were also pleased to welcome Varun Footring and Elliot MacLean, our latest work experience students who were exceptionally great at supporting the event.
Anglia Ruskin University are committed to encouraging participation to University and have a dedicated ‘Widening Participation’ team who work across the East Anglia region with schools and colleges to show students first hand what university life is like by engaging prospective students in real University situations.
Hal MacLean and myself have worked with the widening participation department for many years, and continue our work under the Cleveratom flag. Read about some of the past projects we’ve done together click here, here, here, here and here.
This year the two Summer School projects we worked together on took place over weeks and was titled ‘Broadcast Journalism’. The students were to be introduced to how media for journalism is created for broadcast.
Each week students (24 in week one and 21 in week two) were introduced to University life by Ian, his team, and current University students.Hal and myself also recalled our own studies at the University, before introducing them to what we had done around the world in this field, before inducting the students in film, animation, sound creation and broadcasting skills.
Once we had inducted the students to the technology we then mixed up the students into cross-school groups and challenged each group with a different activity:
Group 1 – Make a 1 minute issue related story, for a news programme
Group 2 – Interview the general public about Group 1’s news item piece (vox pops!) and make a 1 minute fair reflection of opinion
Group 3 – Make a 30 second advert for a product
Group 4 – Make a 30 second advert for a service
Group 5 – Make the idents for the news programme, present live links between content, interview someone live on air about the issue created by groups 1 and 2, broadcast the show live on the internet
The students were then told that on day two of the programme all content would be broadcasted live as a news programme on the internet, by them, at 3pm and all studio based recordings had to be live (not pre-recorded!).
Using Live Channel running on the Apple platform for the broadcast, and iMovie, GarageBand, iStopMotion, iTunes and iPhoto to put together the material, the teams had to talk to each other. The students had little or no experience in the software used for the project.
It was great to see students from an unrelated previous Summer School Project we were involved in back in 2005 (at our previous employer) taking part in the event. Week 1: Issue (created by groups) – Are we really British?
With a big challenge, and a strict deadline for broadcast students had to work together to form a broadcast production crew, delegate jobs and ensure the broadcast was no longer than five minutes. Students found natural roles, realised the urgency of deadlines and production needs and produced an excellent product.
Matthew Eaves, Malcolm Burnett, Nick Platts and Hal MacLean from Cleveratom Ltd were on hand as experts for the event. This is the final product.Here is the final completed piece of work for week 1, uploaded to Youtube:
I’ve worked on some pretty special projects around the world with Cleveratom and my previous employer, but it is hard to compare with the fun, excitement, and innovation surrounding ‘RUGroom’ at City College… City College Norwich (CCN) caters for 18,000 students from all over Norfolk and the surrounding counties, it has 1,200 staff. It is one of the largest colleges in England. The college also has approximatly 80 students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD); find out more about the Autistic Spectrum here on Wikipedia, but in a nut shell people with autism say that the world is made up of people and events that they struggle to make sense of.
CCN recognises the importance of providing learning opportunities and support for students with various needs and learning styles. For ASD students it has created what they proudly refer to as the ‘RUG’ (Really Useful Group).
The RUG (group) and RUGroom (the physical space) work had started prior to our arrival at the college. Danusia Latosinski, head of the Regional Centre for Learners with Autistic Learning Disorders (based at the college) and her team had created a social space comprising of a couple of sofas, and some activities in a small room on the college campus. At the heart of the project Danusia and team provide learning, teaching and support for the ASD students, and have made a lot of progress. The evolving RUGroom model quickly became unsustainable due its rapid and increasing success. Rapid growth resulted in the original RUGroom space (which also incorporated offices) becoming far too small for purpose; a move into a larger space was desperately needed.
In May 2007 City College won funding from the Learning and Skills Council to develop a new physical space and work on RUGroom Mark II began.
The Cleveratom team were already familiar with CCN having made presentations of its work to the college board. Richard Burley from the board recommended Danusia Latosinski telephone and invite Cleveratom to Norwich. We arrived and talked about how our team could help them to develop RUGroom Mark II into a student centred, useful and engaging space that encouraged learning and socialising for RUG students. The big challenge was that it was then May, and RUGroom Mark II had to be operational by September.
Dick Palmer, the college principal, who has already had major successes in demonstrating City College as a leading UK higher education institution, gave over the old (underused) college staff room space to the project. It looked like this:
To see more images of the space prior to development click here (Photographer: Hal MacLean).
Cleveratom understand both learning and technology and are experts in working collaboratively on educational technology projects nationwide. Project partners including the BBC, MacMillan Cancer Support, Edison Schools, and London Business School. We recognised the potential for this development and wanted the very best design team involved. It was no surprise that we called on the skills of Team a g0-go and together we engaged with students who would be using RUGroom physically and virtually and involved them in the design and decision making. Cleveratom helped primarily in the specification of technology which could be used within RUGroom and the associated teaching and learning spaces the students use.
Here is a photograph of the installation in progress, taken during a trip to the college to answer questions about power and networking for the technology we had specified:
Progress happened fast; the RUGroom had to be operational by September term start date 2007.
Here are the pictures of the space after completion of the bulk of the building work was finished: Click here to see more images taken in November 2007
The young people with ASD who use the room were involved in all aspects of the design team from the layout of the space, the design of the pods and the colour scheme. The very popular pods allow students to retreat to quiet havens where they can control the lighting depending on their mood. Other areas include a small kitchen space to encourage domestic skills and co-operation, a ‘den’, wider open spaces and semi enclosed computer areas.
Cleveratom specified a mix of Apple Macs and PCs for the space, and began a programme of training to engage students and staff in the potential of new technologies for learning opportunities. Our team; Hal MacLean, and myself, have been working every Tuesday with students on projects including:
3D Interactive Programming
Here are some images from the Animation classes:
Click here to watch ‘Boulderdash Animation’ by Aaron and Jamie which has been uploaded onto Youtube.
Spending every Tuesday with the students to embed technology into RUGroom has been a great opportunity. We were told that people with ASD typically have an attention span of around eight minutes, so to see learners engrossed and engaged in activities for hours at a time has been a positive experience. The students are incredibly creative with unique talents and abilities; so far we’ve found the students can:
design gardens online using 3D planning software;
animate scenes and stories in clay;
collaborate together in the same document for creative writing;
build virtual buildings and spaces using design software;
create and manipulate images; and
programme movements for game design.
What has become evident is the students’ abilities to learn quickly and apply new skills for the challenges we put to them. Two particular successes include the impressive 3D design work. Alex created an amazing 3D model of a house and surrounding grounds in some design software. The detail incorporated into his design was so impressive that it even included the items on the shelf in the property’s garage. Staff in the college were so impressed with Alex’s work that he is now re-creating campus buildings for official use by the college for virtual tour guides. Another student, Sam, has shown his awesome skills with music; spending hours composing from scratch using ‘Garageband’.
We’ve also been working to upskill the RUGroom staff in technology use; to find out more about one of the workshops click here.
Danusia commented on our work with Cleveratom so far for our marketing brochure:
“We particularly like the creative way in which Cleveratom work, picking up on learner and staff ideas and showing how technology can be used to involve learners and put them at the centre.”
In January 2007 the staff and students presented RUGroom to an audience in the ‘Schools of the Future’ zone at the BETT Show in Olympia. Cleveratom joined Team-a-go-go and the students to present the successes so far, and celebrate the achievements. BETT is attended each year by around 27,000 visitors and over 600 education companies exhibit. Here is a view from the balcony of about 1% of BETT (its a big show!):
Here are some of the students prior to their presentation:
The students captivated the audience for half an hour, talking about their experiences and why RUGroom was so successful.
Also speaking on behalf of the City College was Robyn Steward, a specialist asbergers trainer and former student at the college. Robyn grabbed the attention of passers by with her unique and engaging presentation style, she was remarkable to watch and professional in her presentation of AS.
On completion of their presentation the students retreated to the Cleveratom stand for drinks and an early look at the evolving ‘rugroom.net’ software being built for them by our company. Here is the Cleveratom 2008 BETT stand:
With so much creative work being produced by the students the challenge had become to provide them with a virtual space to share their work and continue the positive experience of RUGroom, online. Rugroom.net was born.
This stage of our involvment with City College was the development of rugroom.net; the space the students are encouraged to upload, collaborate, share and celebrate their work. As well as being a learning space Rugroom.net also acts as a safe retreat for the ASD students providing a social environment for use when not in RUGroom (although some students assume and engage with their online identity while physically in the RUGroom space).
Cleveratom’s team of designers worked with RUG students over a four week period at the Chelmsford offices to design, plan and begin construction of rugroom.net specifically for use with students with ASD. After an initial meeting with a group, RUG students undertook the long journey each week from Norwich to Chelmsford to begin work on the development.
Katie (pictured above left) did a lot of research into avatars, and the look and feel for the site; Rob (pictured above right) explored programming languages. The students were involved throughout the process.
Rugroom.net phase 1 has now been rolled out for use by the students. Each student has their own page within the site and is able to upload and show work, thoughts and ideas to other students. Here is my page:
In the next version of the software I’ll be able to join groups, comment on other people stuff and enter debates. Each student is in control of the look, feel and identity in this closed community. The reason why rugroom.net and RUGroom have so far been well received by their users is primarily because the users have been involved in the entire process of design; both the physical and virtual spaces are fit for purpose. Hal from our team is involved in lots of Building Schools for the Future teams across the UK and he’ll be the first to tell you that if you don’t involve the users of learning spaces in their design then the challenge of designing a learning space suitable for purpose is much harder.
The Regional Centre for Students with Autistic Learning Disorders is planning to reach students with ASD beyond the walls of City College Norwich. We hope that Rugroom.net will make that virtually possible and is part of the strategy for outreach. We’re looking forward to being involved in the process of rollout.
Nick Platts and Alex Blanc from our team continue the development work of rugroom.net with Hais Deakin, our latest recruit, working on SMS integration for the site.
With technology so well received by the students an opportunity arose to bid for some additional funding to improve the RUGroom experience further. Challenged by Danusia, I sat up one night and drew up a vision for rugroom.tv and the next day Hal applied his budgeting skills to the proposal and we cost what we believed would be a realistic proposal for TV/Radio/Broadcasting studio specifically for the use of students with ASD.
The rugroom.tv proposal was successful and we’re now in the process of now making it happen, creating a space for experimentation and learning whilst not trying to create a high level broadcast studio. Much of our time working with BBC Blast to specify and implement the use of technology on their national BBC Blast Truck Tour has helped us to define what was possible and desirable. We’ve been involved in lots of learning space design projects all over the country, helping design schools to engage learners, we’ve also visited schools and other learning spaces across the world and learned about the successes and failures. Here is the BBC Blast Truck which some of our team helped specify suitable technolgy for learning:
Like the BBC Blast Truck, rugroom.tv will be a state of the art audio and visual studio and media casting unit that is intended to form part of the innovative RUGroom development at City College Norwich. The newly developed space will be built directly opposite the existing RUGroom facility within the college site.
The new multi-purpose studio and editing suite will contain enviable cutting-edge technologies which will enable collaboration and creativity through media capture, visual editing and sharing.
A typical day in rugroom.tv will see a radio production take place, some filming, editing, webcasting, scheduling, podcasts and recordings for the wider student community. Norwich, Norfolk, and the worldwide community will benefit from improved visibility and exposure of the RUGroom project; pioneering experimental work for young people with ASD. The most exciting thing about rugroom.tv is that its use and operations will be manned, and managed, by the talented AS students based in the college.
Rugroom.tv will be located directly opposite the existing Rugroom space. The following diagram (not to scale) demonstrates the location of the two rooms:
Running between the two spaces is a corridor. Rugroom has been designed with glass doors allowing passers by to look in and see what is taking place in the space. The intention for the rugroom.tv wall along the main corridor is that it will be made entirely of glass from wall to ceiling allowing visitors and passers-by to look in and see the creative work being undertaken.
Rugroom.tv will be filled with cutting edge technology, a stimulating and engaging place to work. There are two separate rooms; one playing home to an editing suite, and the other a small studio. Students will be able communicate through the speaker system to record programmes and broadcast live images.
Using the same equipment featured in the photograph above connected to the dual screen/keyboard editing suite equipment imaged below (located in the editing suite) the rugroom.tv studio will be able to deliver high quality visual imagery both live and on-demand.
The latest chroma key technology developed for the BBC by Reflecmedia will allow rugroom.tv to adapt to become any location in the world. The Reflecmedia material will be hung from the roof as a curtain and can be pulled across the glass front of the studio to allow privacy for filming if desired. This glass reflector material technology is used by broadcasters to present the national weather news for programmes and will allow both still and video images to be streamed live behind a presenter. Using cutting edge software by it is possible to feed the live images straight to the internet.
The soundproof studio will also be rigged with high quality microphones allowing students to produce audio programmes for podcast and radio.
When the studio space is not being used for radio or television productions, conference kit for video conferencing will be made available for the Rugroom students and staff, and the wider college, to interact with others globally. It is intended that the RUGroom will begin a programme of using this technology to link up with other AS academic communities from around the world to collaborate, share ideas and celebrate success.
The editing suite will have two benches running along each wall, the TV editing desk will look straight into the studio and allow editors to interact with students working the cameras and those presenting. On the opposite wall space will be dedicated to editing audio material for use on podcast and radio mediums. Headphones will be provided for this work. Anyone passing in the outside corridor will be able to see through the glass wall at what is happening in rugroom.tv.
The editing suite will also be home to the rugroom.tv website which will be an archive of work created by RUGroom students as well as the place internet visitors go to watch live webcasts produced by the RUGroom. The booking out of the recording equipment, space and editing facilities will all be managed through the rugroom.tv website online.
Rugroom.tv will offer filming and DVD production and replications services for the college, students from Rugroom.tv will be able to film off-site and build DVD’s for internal clients at a charge. RUGroom is certainly the talk of City College at the moment, and it was great to be at the official launch to celebrate with the team the successes so far. Charles Clarke, MP for Norwich South and former Education Secretary (2002 – 2004) officially opened the RUGroom commenting on how well the room and its technology had come together to maximise students potential. The centre was officially opened on 8 February 2008. Charles Clarke commented on how the technology in the RUGroom is cutting edge and went on to say:
“What this room does, and all the facilities, and all the staff, and the college is to help people deliver their potential.”
And delivering the potential from students with ADS is exactly what RUGroom is all about.
Dick Palmer, Principal of the college commended staff and students on their achievement and thanked Danusia and her team for all the hard work and effort involved. As ever, the ASD students were central to the launch, welcoming guests, introducing the speakers, demonstrating creativity, engaging with the visitors, and being interviewed by the press. In the official City College Press Release Dick Palmer states:
“I am incredibly proud that we have been able to help establish this incredibly innovative Regional Centre for Learners with Autistic Spectrum Disorders. It will play a vital role in ensuring that these learners can have equal access to courses at the College while having a safe space dedicated to their needs. The RUG Room has been so successful because learners were involved in from the beginning, working with the designers to create an exciting and innovative space which meets the very specific needs of young people with Asperger Syndrome.” Read the CCN RUGroom Press Release
When interviewed by BBC Look East’s Louise Holmes RUG student Kirsty said:
“I’m lot more confident now because I get to speak to people who are in the same boat as I am, so it has been really nice.”
Louise then interviewed Emi-Jo who stated:
“I’ve got a safe environment where I can go if I’m angry or I’m upset, I’m away from everyone, but in the middle of college …no one can come and get me”. The Look East report is available at the end of this article, here on youtube and also here on the BBC website.
Danusia Latosinski, Head of the Regional Centre for Learners with Autistic Spectrum Disorders stated:
“The students were involved in the first meeting with the designers and then involved at every stage of this rooms development and thats why it is such a unique space, quite different from other spaces, because there are elements in here that the students have particularly asked for.”
Kim Briscoe from Norwich Evening News was also as the launch and enlisted Sam, one of the students, to present a film introducing the new space.
Watch it here (and below)….
Well done Sam, very nicely done! Here are the photographs I took at the launch. Click here to read what Hal MacLean wrote about the launch.
Watch the BBC Look East news item:
At the heart of the RUGroom success sits Danusia and her dedicated team of professionals who work tirelessly are more than 100% committed to provide the very best opportunities and bring out the potential of every student they work with. This project has been the most amazing journey because the people involved are willing to try new things and break the mould.
The team at Cleveratom are delighted to be involved.
Some images from the event:
Cleveratom were thrilled to work with the City College Norwich staff in a Clay Animation and Music workshop for 20 of the team. Rugroom staff work with young people on the AS at the college.
In 7 groups, each of around 4 RugRoom teaching staff, Matthew Eaves and myself were on hand as each group worked with iStopMotion to produce a short animation with music composed themselves in GarageBand.
The final products produced by each group, viewable below, are the work of about 3 hours each with a MacBook- learning to use the software they progressed.Finally as a surprise to the group, we asked for pictures of some of the staff to create a seasonal gift to the collage.
Cleveratom have been working with Rugroom students for the past six months to develop a social learning space, workshops and an online environment.
Here is the completed work:
The Cleveratom Team (Alex, Matt and Hal) were delighted to be invited back to the Anglia Ruskin University to work with Ian Ericson to run the 2007 Anglia Ruskin Summer School.
For the past five years Hal and Matt from the Cleveratom team have been involved in the project (2002-2006 under the Ultralab flag as staff at the University). Both Hal and Matt are also part of the Anglia Ruskin Alumni, both students of the University many years back.
This year the challenge was to engage with a group of young people considering University and put them through a two day creative challenge.
Within minutes of arriving the young people were out and about using digital and video camera technology to bond in small groups and make a first attempt film.
At the end of day 1 the young people had learned how to use iMovie, GarageBand and iPhoto and we’re challenged to make a 100 second ‘Point of View’ film, they had one day to do it.
The completed work was celebrated in the Micheal Ashcroft Building Lecture Hall and a DVD was produced and distributed to every participant.
Our team also took time to talk to the young people about University life, expectations and opportunities. An enjoyable experience was had by all, and as ever, some really creative work achieved in a very short period of time.
Here are the movies:
I’ve spent the past three days working on the BBC Blast Truck in Hatfield, delivering a Film and Camera Production workshop for young people delivering this workshop each day:
The Truck will stop this year in 30 places, Hatfield was the first location. Last year Hamish, Hal and myself travelled with the truck (under the Ultralab flag) working with the local facilitators to deliver the Blast experience, we ran workshops and supported other facilitators to run theirs.
When I arrived at the venue it was good to see a lot of young people crowded round a DJ from BBC Radio 1xtra, clearly enjoying the experience of learning ‘Radio Production’. My own Film Making workshop was attended by 21 young people, we used Sony Z1 video cameras, learned how to shoot, edit and create a film together. After practicing, each group made their first film ‘Surprise’ within the three hours and were then set the tougher challenge for the following two days.
I challenged the young people were then to make a 100 second film entitled ‘Confusion’. The film had to be exactly 100 seconds long, could only have three lines of dialogue and had to be shot is a way which was modern and not traditional.
The films the young people created were very good, considering none had prior experience in film making.
The youngest participant was nine years old, the oldest, seventeen. The abilities of the young people were so good in both iMovie and Final Cut Pro they finished their work in double quick time and were able to visit some of the other workshops taking place on the truck, filming and documenting what else was happening.
Both myself and the team at Cleveratom have lots of experience running film, animation, creative art and photography workshops and were delighted to be invited on to the truck to pass on our knowledge.
Cleveratom wish the BBC Blast team the very best of success in delivering the 2007 national Blast Truck tour to a further 29 locations.
For the sixth year it was nice to be invited back to be a part of ‘Create at BETT’, the creativity feature at the BETT Show held at London Olympia between the 10th and 13th of January. Create at BETT continues to be the only stand staffed by young people, not selling anything specific.
The feature stand exists to simply demonstrate creative use of technology within learning. Last year BETT attracted 27,000 visitors from all over the world to its two thousand stands.Students from King Harold School were on hand to help visitors make podcasts, using the latest chroma key technology from our friends at Reflecmedia.
Visitors were able to stand in front of a chroma wall with selected moving image being rendered live behind them straight into Apple’s iMovie software.
Click the right hand news article image to read what reporter Stephen Manning from the TES had to say about the young people working on the Create at BETT stand:
The young people working on the stand worked with the show visitors to film their ideas and then upload the newly created podcast file to the Digital Teacher Network (DTN). DTN remains as a free space for creative teachers to manage their projects online.
All the podcasts created on the ‘Create at BETT’ stand can be viewed on the ‘Create at BETT DTN Project‘.
All DTN project media files work with iTunes, and are therefore available to download as podcasts onto iPod technology.At the other end of the stand young people worked to demonstrate the brilliant iStopMotion animation software and the potential for using creative technology in the classroom. iStopMotion is so simple and easy to use, yet so powerful too. A wonderful piece of innovative software.
Cleveratom was represented on the stand working together with the team from BBC Blast and Apple. All these partners believe in creative use of new and emerging technology in learning and we’re proud to work along side them.
I’ve enjoyed the past six years on the stand, clicking here will take you back to the stand in 2002 where we explored web broadcasting technologies.
We’ve done something new and experimental on the stand every year since, it has always been staffed by young people. Here is last years article on BETT 2006.
Cleveratom’s Alex Blanc and Jamie Harris were on hand to support visitors wanting to learn more about the potential of enabling technologies. Alex built Digital Teacher Network from Open Source Software and spent a lot of time explaining to visitors how it worked and what they could do with it. Maureen Gurr was on hand to look after the young people, Fiona from Impact also did an amazing logistical job to make it all happen.
Cleveratom staff have also worked closely with David Baugh and BBC Blast to support the young people prior to coming to the show. The training session held before Christmas in the BBC’s 21CC (21st Century Classroom) were a huge success. Creativity and School Learning Space Design Consultant, Hal MacLean reflects on the performance of the young people: As ever, King Harold School pupils were brilliant! Their enthusiasm, infectious energy and determination to succeed meant that the stand never had a dull moment. Many thanks to Malcolm Burnett for organising the group and being there with them. Read more of what Hal has to say here. View Hal’s Best Pictures from BETT 2007
Some images from the event: