Sunday, 29 June 2014

My Summer Reading List

After the academic year has finished and the students have left, it's time for whichever academic institution you work for to run some staff development (which luckily I'm missing as I'm at Develop while it's happening). Followed by much needed holiday mixed between planning and prep for the new academic year. Well that kind of describes life at the end of the year and over the Summer for those that work in further education, schools may differ. For the geeky ones (like me) the holiday time is a time for projects and skill updating. Between visiting my son and spending quality time with him playing videogames and boardgames, and a trip to the Lakes, I'll be trying to squeeze in some reading (coming to that) and skill updating (learning Unity). So to the point of this post, I thought I'd share my planned reading list for over the Summer hols.
Sorry I didn't put the authors in, I just created the list in iThoughts so I didn't forget and also to keep track of what I get through. As you can see some of the books are about Flipped Learning which as I pointed out in a previous post is something I will be trying out in the new academic year. Some are about teaching programming and computer science (there are very few books on this) and then some are about learning.
Now I know this sounds like all my personal development happens over the Summer. But it isn't like that, I'm studying throughout the year. I'm a firm believer of controlling my own personal development. I'm the one who best knows what my needs are subject and career wise. So I make sure that I get appropriate training, attend conferences and teachmeets, spend a small fortune on books (physical and kindle). It's just the Summer is a time when time can be devoted to larger projects.
So now you have seen my reading list for the Summer what's on yours?

Sunday, 22 June 2014

A Game Design Reading List

One of the things I'm proud of since getting Unit 40 Game Design as part of our software development stream (this is our third year of running it) has been the reference section that has been built up in our library. Basically the game design section of our library is a mirror of my bookshelves at home excluding the odd book that is out of print and they weren't able to get (such as the book Game Over by David Sheff). I'm always plugging the books in class, and use them in classroom exercises. It is also a suggestion in the units specification that students should be reading about the subject. Which having a comprehensive reference section in our library allows them to do.
When you look at the units specification they have a list of books that they suggest may be of use to teachers teaching the unit. I think that list is too long and how do the teachers tell what is good and what is a waste of time? Let's face it we also have limited time to do background reading so anything that can make that time more productive is welcomed.
Here is my list of what I consider to be essential books that anyone teaching the game design unit should have on their bookshelves:
  • A Theory of Fun for Game Design by Raph Koster
  • The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses by Jesse Schell
  • Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games by Tracy Fullerton
  • Level Up! The Guide to Great Video Game Design by Scott Rogers
  • Challenges for Game Designers: non-digital exercises for video game designers by Brenda Brathwaite and Ian Schreiber
If you only had the time for one book from the list above my favourite is Level Up! A really accessible book on game design and I use the 1 pager, 10 pager and beat chart from the book for our level 2 students on the OCR Unit 22 Video Game Production unit, obviously unit 40 and unit 22 on the BTEC National Extended diploma for our level 3's.

In a future post I will go over some of the exercises I do in class with my students for this unit. I'll also link to an on line copy of an essay from a book not mentioned above that I like to use as a great discussion starter with the students.

Monday, 16 June 2014

See you at CamJam on 5th July

You what? Yep tickets have gone live for the next CamJam which is being held on July 5th.
A paltry £2.50 a ticket (free for kids) is all you need to get into this consistently great Raspberry Jam.

You can get your tickets HERE

But if those words haven't got you clicking that link and getting a ticket. Then go look at the fantastic planned line up of talks and workshops they already have (see list HERE ). They have Minecraft workshops, and of more interest to me a talk on running a Pi Club. On top of all this there are the Pi retailers that will be there as well.

Now surely that has convinced you to click the tickets link above and getting one.

Ok final thing that may convince you I'm not giving a talk or running a workshop. So what more do you want? Go get that ticket NOW!

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Pibrella Workshop Worksheets from May CamJam

Long overdue, this is a very brief post. Apart from these brief introductory words it's a link to a word document of the worksheets that I created for the Pibrella workshop that I ran at the May CamJam. Click on the link below to get.


Pibrella Worksheets


Friday, 6 June 2014

In Memory

It is rare to find a manager that encourages you to reach for the stars, that supports you, that sees through the crap and gets you to be a better you, that believes in you, that can rely on you.

My boss was one of those rare special people.Wednesday she passed away unexpectedly at home.

My boss wasn't just my manager, but a good friend too. Who often gave a sympathetic ear to my little challenges in life.

It's been surreal at work since hearing the news, the support from friends around the college has been immense. And very much appreciated.

My thoughts and prayers are with her family at this moment. She will be greatly missed.