‘‘You might be able to help get that student their pass, but can they apply it in real life? I believe the country needs to support more ‘real-life’ practice with students to make sure that they will float, rather than sink at the end of their school career.”
– Ray Chambers, England
Ray Chambers is a relatively young teacher – he’s been teaching ICT only since 2008. About two years ago, Chambers noticed his students were becoming bored in his ICT classes – they could only be inspired by learning to create a spreadsheet or learn Word for so long. So he decided it was time to try something new. “I was introduced to the Partners in Learning Netw ork by another inspiring person, Guy Shearer,” says Chambers. “He introduced me to the innovative things that were happening. I had an idea for using the Kinect in the classroom and I couldn’t find any information on it. He persuaded me to keep looking.”
Not only did Chambers keep looking, he created his own program using the Kinect, and created tutorials and shared this on his blog, to help other teachers do the same. “I taught myself to develop Kinect Applications using the Kinect SDK,” says Chambers. “At this point, many teachers were using the Xbox but none had used the Kinect as a standalone device. I wanted to engage students and I wanted them to enjoy their lessons.” Chambers’ project has grown since and with the help of colleague Stuart Ball, they have created a group of teachers from the UK called the K-Team. “We’re all using the Kinect or Kodu to develop education,” notes Chambers. His project, “Kinect Olympics,” took him to the 2011 finals of UK Partners in Learning Forum, and then on to the European Partners in Learning Forum in Lisbon.
“At the European Forum I was impressed to see that many teachers all over Europe were already using the tutorials from my blog to make their own applications,” says Chambers. “There were teachers from Bulgaria editing the code to build quizzes for their classrooms. Friends who have visited the Global Forum have told me about the impact it’s made. There were at least three more countries at the Global Forum using the technology and the applications I had developed.”
Chambers’ accomplishments have led to him presenting at many events, including BETT in 2011, 2012 and 2013. This year, Chambers and fellow K-Team member David Renton talked about the use of Kinect Applications, Kinect Games and Kodu, and the impact that it has had in their students’ grades. “It was a great opportunity to establish connections,” says Chambers. “As a result of all of this, my teaching practice has changed. The recognition I have had from the students and the enjoyment from them has only made me more determined to be even more innovative. I’m currently looking at ways of using TouchDevelop within the curriculum at our school. I am now trying to make future projects have a whole school impact rather than just in my own classroom. I’m looking at getting students to develop apps for other teachers so that the whole school can make use of this innovation.”