Monday, 23 February 2015

Debugging a lesson on Debugging - Mobile Mistakes #1

iPads are wonderful devices. No really, they are. Even if they make you start a sentence without a capital letter.

This post however, is about what can go wrong in an IT lesson using mobile devices and the lessons learned.

I am working with a school that has amazing IT provision, with one-to-one across the board: iPads in LKS2 and Macbooks in UKS2, plus a suite of networked machines. I have occasional use of an iPad, so I borrowed one with 'Hopscotch' installed, to plan my Computer Science lesson on debugging for a year 3 class.

I put together what I hoped was a well-structured plan for making a tilting 'etch-a-sketch' game, with debugging being the focus, but with some cross-curricular maths work on angles included.

However, what I did not plan for was that within the class set of iPads, two different versions of hopscotch were installed, neither of which were the same as the one I had used to plan with!

You would not think that this would be so significant for something as simple as a tilting 'etch-a-sketch' game. However, what if one version of Hopscotch required using angles to set the direction of motion of the sprite, and the other used +ve and -ve co-ordinates for the same task? Some advice: don't try teaching angles to 360° and cartesian co-ordinates and negative numbers to 2 sections of a Year 3 class simultaneously. It doesn't go well.

Despite this, and the fact that it was the last hour of the last day of half term, and that there'd been a cake sale immediately prior to the lesson, the children were great. Most of the 'angle' children succeeded, and some of the x-y group got something working. But was it a great lesson on debugging? Only for me.

Lessons learned:

  • Check all the mobile devices you are going to use have the software you want installed.
  • Check it is the same version on all devices.
  • Plan your lesson using the same device the children will use (or at least the same software)

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