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Entries in games (9)


The Oculus Rift - Can It Be Used in The Primary School?

Stefani - Epson VR GogglesYears ago as a kid I remember bieng wowed with the distant possibilities of some kind of Virtual Reality set-up on my parents' Trinitron by the greatest Science and Tech TV show of the time: Tomorrow's World with Maggie Philbin and Judith Hann. Ah Nostalgia.

At the time, VR was this thing that crazy technologists did in the confines of their make-shift studios. The closest anyone I knew that really got to VR was a poor immitation as a vertically ridged holographic image on the side of a ruler or strawberry-scented pencil eraser. They were sedentary affairs at best that eventually came free with Coco-Pops.

It all seems a bit dated now as too the whole notion of VR as it seems to have been around for aeons. I did a bit of digging about (now that our Oculus Rift was delivered last month) and found that there are so many variants that were emblazened on the front covers of PC and gaming magazines of the time that we all remember but had forgotten about. How many of you recall the VicktorMaxx Head Mounted Display for the Sega Genesis or indeed Nintendo's Virtual Boy?

At that time, if you recall, there was also a slew of films that added to the stroryline of the charismatic Tron. In those days there was a real emphasis on scientific invention as too today with the Marvell Vs DC theme. The other film that sticks in my mind was Stephen King's Lawnmower Man - an OK film unlike the sequel - and was highlighting (as did Tron before it) this new change in cyber stuff and electronics (90's phraseology not tech as it's coined now).

We all knew that Japan would release some kind of console the following week (as it seemed to be to amaze and blow our minds. As if it hadn't already with the SNES and Game Gear. The image above of my trip to Japan last year where Stef (my wife) and I trawled Akihabara for any kind of gadgets worthy of taking home. The Sony VR goggles were on show in the Sony center, Ginza behind glass although the closest we got to VR was the Epson version above. These are see-thu types that don't really do VR more like AR as you're still aware of all that is around you.

The Lawnmower Man - YouTube

However, VR (and AR as it's been combined with now) was still hyperbole and was always tauted as: "next year, this could be in your home and in your hands!"

What's a little different now is that this kit is affordable and in the hands of regular folk. The Oculus Rift Development kit is $300 and the demos are all free to use.

The bits and pieces for the Oculus to integrate with games and-the-like I have come across range from free to $50 - these for the add-ons or overlays that allows games to display correctly with the Rift being the main controller.

How Can We Use These in School?

After using this for quite a long time now I am convinced that this has a lot of benefit to school. Not so much in the way that it could be used whole class or by year group but definitely in small groups and for sharing in lessons such as literacy or where individual displays are used such as learning support. Why literacy (English) and Learning Support? Well, my thinking is that these lessons are where attention span can sometimes wane and a wow factor is needed or specific descriptive language can be enhanced in the same way as Tim Rylands uses Myst (or as I do Machinarium) for imagination.

Oculus VR GogglesIf you think about the games that are available for play with the Oculus then you have things like Surgeon Simulator which at first glance are a far too gruesome for Primary aged children. However, if you spend a second to break this action down to what it is you're actually viewing and taking part in it's basically a pre-set puzzle or sleuth type event much like a crime scene. Now, if you're like-minded then this easily offers itself to Science, Mathematical puzzles (MinecraftEdu setups), problem solving where the viewership can watch the person controlling and make judgements to solve puzzles.

The Oculus I have to say is in its infancy. The screen in the development kit is good but raw. Nearly all the staff who tried this felt sick from the nausea (except Stefani and I). Then new model is said to be a vast improvement with much lower latency and tracking for vertical movements i.e. crouching.

Stefani playing CiessUntil this model gets into my hands then I am hanging this up for the time being for use in the Primary school except for special occasions and gaming sessions at breaktimes and after school clubs - maybe even our new Minecraft mediation topic coming up. Until then though it's been well worth the $300 for experimentation purposes and I shall be purchasing the new one. Maybe we'll venture into the Sony verison too based on this very valuable experience.


FoBISSEA Games 2012 in Beijing, China - Day 4 and 5

Day 4- Year 4 Football

Written by Jeni Wong over here.

The Football competition started on Day 4 and in the Year 4 competition this involved 5 teams playing 10 minute rounds to make it to the final. Year 4 Boys and Girls put up a tremendous fight in the soccer and both teams made it to the finals with the Year 4 boys winning one of their games by an impressive 6- nil. Both teams played the same respective boys and girls teams which were now becoming quite a regular fixture, for all of our FoBISSEA teams, DBIS- Discovery Bay International School, Hong Kong. The finals were nerve racking with the girls taking the silver and the boys just losing out at the last minute by 2-1. Both teams did very well and as I coached the girls teams, I have to give special call-outs to Jeni for her great kicks in defence, Wendy for braving the tackles, Jade and Niktha for their super mid-field to forward work, Natalie who made some good saves in goal and Tiffany for being the right place at the right time and scoring some goals. Another medal in the bag- TES is the BEST!
Day 5- Excursion day
This was a real reward for everyone for all their hardwork in the competition and their training prior to leaving for FoBBISEA. We went swimming at the Beijing Cube next to the famous Beijing Birdnest stadium. Arriving early but spending some time negotiating door entrance with the 3 rounds of different door people! But a time well spent and everyone had a great time in the tunnels and tubes. After that a lovely lunch in the sun before playing some bowling and then going off to see the Famous Beijing ChaoYang Theatre Acrobatics World. This truely was an amazing show where acrobats showed us their talents by balancing objects, riding bikes and performing stunts with precision and skill. Check out their website . Rounding off the evening with a yummy buffect meal where the Year 6 boys chomped down steaks and all the meat that you could imagine. 
Highlights of the trips:
See what they were here



FoBISSEA Games 2012 in Beijing, China - Day 3

Day 3 - The T-Ball 
What an amazing day, we had our usual early rise and shine starting off the day with a great buffet breakfast. It was T-Ball day and we arrived at the beautiful Dulwich Beijing sports ground to the cheers of our loyal parent supporters with their horns and TES pompoms! The children got straight to work by playing in a series of T-Ball games which would determine which teams would make it to the finals. I never realised why we practised T-Ball so much during our ECA practices, but after our day today, I could see the huge part of the FOBISSEA games that the event took. Unlike yesterday,where individual medals could be won by doing your best for yourself, T-Ball really did require a lot of TTT- thinking, tactics and teamwork. Watching the Year 4s play was exciting and nerve racking at the same time...but they really did make a super team. Shubh was a quick thinking pitcher working really well with Gill on first base and Jun Sung as backstop. We had some great fielding by Sean, Svente and Lachlan with their good stopping and large throws. Well done to Tiffany who took a brave stop and blocked a strong hit. Jeni, Jade and Wendy gave some good hits and sprinted home. One tactic TES will definitely be remembered for will be its Stop and Scare tactic, which envied by others has been mastered by Natalie, Nikitha and Shubh but with varying levels of 'Scare'. 
Read on over here



FoBISSEA Games 2012 in Beijing, China.

The FoBISSEA Games Attendees, Beijing, China

The first day... What a BLUR!

After a 4.45am meet-up at the EPC the , bleary eyed 2012 FOBISSEA group representing TES were off. The spirits, despite the early hour, were high and everyone was super excited about what the day ahead was to deliver us. The airport check-in went extremely well and before we knew it we were touching down at Beijing Capital Airport, although we hardly realised we were there with the hazy skies closing in.
The Harrow School, Beijing representatives were there to meet and greet us and led us to the awaiting buses. The excitement was now building, especially on seeing the TES logo in the windscreen of the bus! The next journey was to the Beijing Aquarium where Mr Milner had organised for us to see the dolphin show. Something about trying to get us in the mood for the swimming competition!!! We had a great afternoon wandering the aquarium and getting used to being together as a group. 
Carry on reading the full story and day-by-day write-ups from Mr. McKelvie here on the FoBISSEA Games page.

#21CLHK '12 - How will I integrate technology in my classroom now? 

The 2012 21CLHK comference has just finished this weekend and now I have several tasks I'm sure other EdTech leaders have to think about. In fact, I now have many.

There were so many great strands going on at the conference that in the end I had to basically double up and dip in and out of a few towards the end and try to get a flavour of what was going on. The best of what I saw and heard came from Robyn Treyvaud and Sugatra Mitra's keynotes. Many people commented on Punya Mishra and the cross-over of Tachnology in TPACK . But in terms of our needs the former two hit the nail on the head. If you don't know who these people are then follow the links. But rest assured that they are key figures in education and technological usage within education.

The rest of the event was based around unconference type events that ranged from the basic tools needed to the more in-depth and leadership based discussions.





An example session run by Chris Smith from As you can see from the slide show that if you're familiar with the tools then you can glean the basic premise from here and share with your staff.

Where it got a little more in-depth was from the keynotes by the people at the top of this post and the more abstract questions like "how will a future 21st Century school look?" (in terms of curriculum) and, of course, the school leadership strands. Where you really had to be on your techical game though was in Dana Watts's e-portfolio session. This really made me think deeper about making online devices such as to manage multiple classes of e-portfolios. (the slideshow below is Dana's and not mine had to download to embed!)

What impressed me most was the unifying voice of the need to address the curriculum as it stands: The model that has been around for centuries. 
Dr. Mitra and his HiWEL research suggests that children no longer need the direction of the teacher as it traditonally stands. Instead the teacher will become the mediator (by as he put "a network of grandmas" referring to his research in teaching via Skype). His idea, based on the historical evidence of teaching and schooling losing key lessons (think: medievel times and the need to learn to ride a horse and use a sword) and then brought up to speed - the death of traditional mathematics. This was posed in the form of an analogy of a shopper at the check-out - who uses more mathematics? The shopper or the shop assistant? Followed up by 'the Internet as a prothesis for the brain' raised a few interesting sub-questions. What about over reliance on devices?
What I also enjoyed was the need to instil a games based learning module in classes rather than the Scratch and Kodu game building I currently employ. As much as I love the making (and playing ) of computer games it would make a lot more sense to it integrated in the classroom rather than in the ICT lab.

Task 1:

The upshot of this is that we need kit. So, with the great suggestion from a teacher at Kellet School, Hong Kong I am going to set up an armistice of tech gadgets. All parents in EPC will be asked if they want to hand over unused Nintendo DSs if they want to. I will begin with this console first as it easy to administer and add games (copies obviously) and use directly in the classroom. See here and here. We will then move on to the larger consoles like Wiis, XBOX, PSP, CUBE, N64 or other oldies like NES and SNES if we're (I say we, I mean me) lucky.
This should give me enough leverage to broker a Games based learning module when we move to a facilitator model of teaching next year.
If, I revert back the explanation of the changes above, I am pleased to have learned first hand the other side of this idea of accepting obselescence in education from Ewan MacIntosh and Tom Barrett in November. They partially touch on a similar theme where the learner is and should have more control of their learning. Step one: Collect a sample of online games suitable like this from Frankie Tam and these from persuasive games.

Task 2:

Open up the approach to teaching ICT in KS2 (to begin with before moving to KS1). The impetus gained from the training in November allowed one of the best game making projects I have ever witnessed. I'm not sure if this is to with the children's familiarity of scratch but Tom and Ewan's mantra of letting go of the reins really paid off.
The tasks in a nutshell: find the bigger question at the beginning of the topic and set the steps needed from then on.

Task 3:

Re-evaluate the purchasing and school improvement plan for next year based on the above. What equipment does a group of 4-6 children need to be successful in... X, Y, Z topic?

Task 4:

This one is more immediate: Policy and the re-writing of the first steps needed to creating a better, more parent and student focused framework for Digital Citizenship. Initially, I will begin by inviting parents in for a coffee morning and explaingin to them that I am re-writing this and need their input. What does digital citizenship look like in Year 3 now and how would you like it, as a parent/ student, to look? This I hope will be adopted at a similar time in KS3 and 4.
To summarise then, 21CLHK is fabulous and probably one of the best conferences I've too. That and TechEx at Patana School, Bangkok just for the sheer scale and the amount of thinking needed on our part to address your own vision.  I think also the quality of attendees and keynote speakers is something I was taken aback by. I just hope that our school can send more than one person next year as there is necessary learning at every corner.

Horizon Report, moshi monsters, Tutpup and Fantastic Contraption game

Beginning today I will create a series of posts relating to several topics covered at the Taipei European School's Primary ICT conference. The first covering these topics: Horizon Report, moshi monsters, Tutpup and the Fantastic Contraption game. Then, in subsequent weeks we'll look into the areas in the table below a little more closely:

To begin we'll look at the Horizon Report. What is it? It's a document put together by the New Media Consortium and what they do is look at emerging technologies across the the schooling age ranges. The report does have a strong focus on Higher Ed. but what is quite relevent for the primary school is how these ideas can integrate quite readily into mainstream classes: mobile devices as an example.The full document is below from with this snippet

In each edition of the Horizon Report, six emerging technologies or practices are described that are likely to enter mainstream use on campuses within three adoption horizons spread over the next one to five years. Each report also presents critical trends and challenges that will affect teaching and learning over the same time frame. In the seven years that the Horizon Project has been underway, more than 400 leaders in the fields of business, industry, technology, and education have contributed to this long-running primary research effort.


The six technologies featured in each Horizon Report are placed along three adoption horizons that indicate likely time frames for their entrance into mainstream use for teaching, learning, or creative inquiry. The near-term horizon assumes the likelihood of entry into the mainstream for institutions within the next twelve months; the mid-term horizon, within two to three years; and the far-term, within four to five years

The key area I and many other primary school ICT teachers are interested in are the e-book/ readers and the hand-held devices such as the Nintendo DS, iPod touch, PSP, kindle/Sony et al e-Readers, GPS devices, cell phones and, now, to some degree tablets. The Tablets are more of an interest into the social side of ICT.

The Horizon Report Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary 
  2. Key Trends  
  3. Critical Challenges 
  4. Technologies to Watch
  5. The Horizon Project 
  6. One Year or Less: Mobile Computin
  7. One Year or Less: Open Content 
  8. Two to Three Years: Electronic Books 
  9. Two to Three Years: Simple Augmented Reality 
  10. Four to Five Years: Gesture-Based Computing 
  11. Four to Five Years: Visual Data Analysis 
  12. Methodology 
  13. 2010 Horizon Project dvisory Board 

2010 Horizon Report 2010 Horizon Report

The Fantastic Contraption

This is a logic style game that can be played either as a whole class (Year 4/5 up) or individually as a problem solving activity. The aim of the game is make machines in ever increasing difficulty by using the tools provided. It's similar to the magic pen game (link opens directly to full screen game) that provides lots of discussion points for Science and D+T. A worthy IWB whole-class plenary/ introduction/ D+T storyboard method of construction. 

Fantastic Contraption game


TutPup is a website that provides a perpetual challenge to

players who have signed up for this. The great thing about this site is that teachers have the option to make class sets and codes for the students. This means that they only play against their friends and not random people from around the world. 

Alternatively, this could be a year group idea and play across the maths sets.

If you have lessons that go on longer than an hour it could provide the much needed 'brain break' to divert and channel attention to another strand of maths while maintaining the challenges of the lesson.



Moshi Monsters

Moshi Monsters is a game for Children, it’s sort of like those virtual pets that you used to have, only on the internet and they can actually do things. Moshi Monsters live in a virtual world that exists on your computer, there are lots of different monsters and children can choose one that they want to adopt. This monster then becomes their pet. All of the monsters live in Monstro city; here children can build a home for their pet. Users can also play games with one another, meet other people and show their pet to people. It’s like a tamogotchi only with social networking and doesn’t just beep at you all the time. Moshi Monsters has been created with the intention of being a fun and safe environment for children to play in. Not only that but it’s also an educational game that’s great fun for any age child. A child who visits the site can adopt a monster; they can give it a cute name and even design the colors of the monster. Every monster is different and has a different personality, the more you play with the monster, the more the personality will develop. Competing and solving puzzles means that you win money, the currency of the game is Rox. You can then use Rox to buy things from the virtual shop. There are various social networking features including blogs, and pin boards.

Things to do:

Adopt your very own monster

Name your monster and take care of it

Social networking functions including blogs and pin boards

Play games and earn Rox (virtual money)


Next Week:

Future Lab Quarterly. Articles to look out for. Wireless in Schools.


Maths moves  - a game like situation for maths

2diyarchive excellent resources for 2DIY a package we will buy for August.


Which mobile devices do you use or would like to use in School?

Voice Thread: - very good voice and image collaboration site.

Primary Pad realtime collaborative writing

Pirate Pad

Etherpad realtime collaborative writing


Ever thought of using Guitar Hero for Literacy? Myst for Story telling?

Prezi replaces powerpoint, timelines

Edu Glogster -Interactive posters, kids in the class can comment on friend's poster (you need a good internet connection) An example of using Edu.glogster !

Dipity - – interactive timelines for Literacy and IPC,


What applications could you use on your class machines?

Pretty things and Busy things for EYFS

Cool Tools For School -

Free Tools - reviewed by the author