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Digital Creativity

Using digital still or video cameras to explore adults and children's digital creativity.

'About Me' Podcasts from Class JF9 and Internet Safety for children, teachers and parents

Class JF9 podcasts at Kings Road Primary School ChelmsfordThis week has been a 'getting to know each other' type week and Class JF9 have been working incredibly hard find different ways in which they can communicate information about themselves. Pupils have used Podcasting to record information about themselves and place this online so that it can be listened to online.

Video technology offers huge potential for transient learners

I've really enjoyed collaborating with the Little Cayman community in the time since I visited them in person two months ago. I had the delight of speaking to Cheyenne, a little girl who attends Spot Bay Primary School on Cayman Brac. Today, and the rest of this week, Cheyenne is learning amongst others in Little Cayman whilst her parents are working on the island, covering the work of the local fire brigade.

I spent some time talking to Cheyenne today, learning more about what she enjoys at school. I asked her about the differences between her school and the little community that she was in today. Soon, Cheyenne will be able to talk to her classmates using the Apple iChat video conferencing technology which is being put into many of the local schools on Cayman Brac right now. This has enormous potential for visiting classmates to immerse themselves within a different classroom environment, yet maintain continuity in their learning by connecting back to their base school.

Read Cheyenne's post on the Little Cayman Blog site.

I couldn't end this blog entry without mentioning the fabulous fire brigade that they have on the island. It consists of just a few men and a whopping Fire Engine, check this out...


Each morning, the fire engine is started up and driven the length of the small runway, and back again to test each component works correctly. The water cannons are also given a blast. To drive one of these definitely featured in one of my boyhood dreams, no doubt in most others too!

iBook: see through screen

Inspired by John's published image on Flickr, I challenged one of my pupils to have a go...

ibook transparent screen

© Daniel, Stepping Stones School. For more of Daniel's artwork, visit his blog site.


BAFTA film entries, 60 Seconds of Fame Competition

The judging for this year's 60 Seconds of Fame competition, created and sponsored by BAFTA and Orange is nearly complete.

The competition has been open to buddying filmmakers who are aged 16 or over. All you need is access to some film making equipment, a digital video camera or video capable mobile phone and a computer with which to edit the film.

I was particularly impressed by the guidance notes offered on the website... useful for any video project with youngsters. The guidance notes are simple and straightforward, and after being involved in the judging process over the past few days, clearly many of the filmmakers had listened to this advice in producing the high quality films.


The pages I found most useful were:

Take a look for yourself, and make a point of looking at the entries for this year. Winners from each region will attend The Orange British Academy Film Awards in 2007. The overall winner will have their film featured during the Film Awards broadcast.

Hopefully, the competition will be repeated again this year. See the 60 Seconds of Fame website.

Merlin John Online

Merlin John, the founder and past editor of the very excellent TES Online magazine, now provides a new service to ICT enthusiasts and professionals through his website, Merlin John Online, Read his site for current musings about ICT in education.

I met Merlin, briefly, at the NASEN & TES Special Needs Exhibition in London today.

Stepping Stones School attends Be Very Afraid III

Daniel and Jessica from Stepping Stones School attended the the Be Very Afraid III event on 2nd October 2006. We used iChat AV to video conference with the pupils who weren't able to come. The event was held in London at BAFTA, Piccadilly. The day involved pupils from a variety of schools and colleges, showcasing their digital creativity work. The whole event was organised and managed by, together with DfES and BAFTA.

Deutz Engine Screensaver - download animated construction of a motor engine

Our Scout unit are working towards their Mechanics badge. One of the parents, Mike, works at Ford Motor Company and brought this rather cool screensaver along yesterday evening. The screensaver takes the viewer through the various parts of a motor engine as you watch it being constructed in front of you. Sadly, the screensaver is for Windows PCs only... Watch the Flash animation and download the Deutz Engine screensaver. I wonder if there is a tool to construct Screensavers for Mac OS X from Flash movies? You can now download the excellent screensaver from this site.

Please keep this service running.

Due to the enormous interest in downloading this screensaver from this site and the large amount of traffic coming to my server host, I would really appreciate a donation towards the hosting costs of this service. Many thanks for your understanding.




** Download software list UPDATED 22nd July 2009 **

Now available for Windows Vista

Downloadable options:




Please support this screensaver development.



** UPDATE 31st October 2007 **


There is another animated construction of an engine, this time a diesel engine made by Perkins which can be downloaded from this website. Download the Perkins 3D diesel engine animation.




Animation workshop at Alfriston School

Amy and I ran an Animation workshop at Alfriston School on Wednesday and these are the videos the children produced. As is common, none of the children had used an Apple Macintosh before, none has created an animation of any sort, and this was the product of their work after only 90 minutes.

Just in passing, Alfriston School is a special MLD (Moderate Learning Difficulty) school in Buckinghamshire. They provide an education for children with physical disabilities, learning difficulties and some who have challenging home lives.

View their work

Stepping Stones pupils presented at the Apple Store, Regent Street, London

Stepping Stones school is only the 2nd school in the UK to participate in Apple's School Nights programme.

Our pupils did very well, developing confidence to speak in public and show some of their cool digital creativity work to a very mixed audience, consisting of mainly Apple Store customers. We were presenting in the instore theatre. Essentially, we could use the theatre space as we liked... the 'be creative in how you present, and what you present' ethos was very evident.

Read more about the event.

Just in passing, the Apple Store School Nights event is open to any school wishing to use the Apple Store to present creativity work developed on a Mac. Sign up here...

So why doesn't the government white paper mention creativity?

Stephen Heppell, a regular writer in The Guardian writes on creativity and observes, how, in the latest white paper, "Higher Standards, Better Schools for All" it never once mentions 'creativity'

"Standard" is mentioned 144 times,
"fail" appears 53 times.

Rather surprisingly, the words "creativity" and "creative" are not mentioned at all, probably uniquely for an education policy paper in the 21st century. Someone has taken their eye off the ball, haven't they?

Read more in Stephen's article.


Naace podcasting at BETT 2006

Although BETT runs for a final day, today, I have had a wonderful two days at the show supporting Naace members, and the odd non-naace member!) with podcasting. For many this was their first experience of what it means to podcast. They left the stand with a greater understanding of both how you might use podcasting in the world of education and learning. One Naace member described how she can now demonstrate podcasting to a team of teachers at a school on Tuesday - yikes!

I worked alongside Stephen Powell, Jane Down and Maureen Gurr in the Naace Lounge.

We used Apple's iLife '06 software to podcast, GarageBand and iWeb. Listen to all the podcasts or
Subscribe to the feed

Digital Creativity Roadshow 2005, a moment for reflection

It's all been a bit of a disaster on the blog front - but here's the first blog entry since landing in Phuket, Thailand, two weeks ago. I have travelled here with Matthew Eaves on a project jointly supported by the British Council, Ultralab and Apple. The aim has been to work with children from Pattani on a digital creativity project with the intention of bring together communities of children as part of the Connecting Futures outreach work that has been very successful.

Matthew and I had intended to work in Pattani, but with the current unrest aimed towards westerners, it was felt safer that we move the venue to Phuket. Two workshops had been arranged during the two weeks we had been invited and used the well-respected SummerSchool format where the participants gained new skills with using digital video cameras and iMovie software. Of course there was more to learn than just the technology... this is about process and collaboration, judgements and decisions, planning, execution and performance.

Even though we already know lots about children making movies (our research in digital creativity work using the SummerSchool format stretches back over the past 6 years) there were still several surprises.

Curiously enough, the children's capacity to write their own soundtracks to their movies was staggering. We had emphasised how audio clues are significant in setting the mood of the film... and there are many examples in the films produced over the past two weeks to evidence participants using sound to amazing effect.

We chose to film a 'reflections' piece where individual pupils spoke of their experiences over the past 5 days. What was exceptional here wasn't just the comments the pupils made, but their confidence to speak in front of the camera. Quite astonishing really since children in England are often quite reserved and come across quite shy when confronted with such a situation.

One girl, Rus, commented, paraphrased below...

"I now understand how TV is made, I can now make TV"

We've had a fantastic learning opportunity here.. there is lots more to tell... and hopefully, as I venture further, to New Zealand, I will be able to piece that together in a more cohesive form. Matthew and I are just heading out to meet with Gerard from Apple Asia (flying in from Singapore as I type), a key individual who supported this event - and at the eleventh hour. He wants to know more about the work of Ultralab and the digital creativity work particularly, and explore how we might develop this relationship in the future.

The photograph on the left is pupils from the week 2 of the workshop. Take a look at some more photographs.


Digital Creativity Bus, draft proposal

Last week I completed a draft proposal detailing some of my thoughts for the Digital Creativity Bus. I would welcome your thoughts, ideas and suggestions please. This is a great opportunity to build something so seductive and engaging for all who use the bus... we might only get one chance to get this right.

Download the draft v2 proposal paper

Routemaster Bus... on the road to digital creativity

Stepping Stones and the National Hemiplegia Organisation have recently purchased an old London Routemaster RM bus from

The intention here, rather like the Computer Bus on the Isle of Man, is to provide more opportunities for children to become involved in digital creativity projects, using video, animation, graphic design applications.

So far the bodywork has been re-sprayed, and work to the inside of the bus is set to be carried out anytime soon. The most pressing need right now is to brainstorm the layout for the inside of the bus. It will need to accommodate working spaces for children using computers, which are likely to be portable Apple iBook computers. The bus must also ensure that wheelchair users can access at least the lower deck and this means that the upper deck can't have an exclusive facilities or technology which isn't accessible from anywhere else.

So your thoughts please, we have a double decker bus to design and construct. This is an exciting opportunity and we want to get it right.

Director Chris

Had a surprise email from an ex-pupil of Westlands Community Primary School, Chris Thomson who, although still at Secondary school, is currently making movies with his friends. Some years ago, we created time during lunchtimes and after-school so that Chris and his friends could 'play' and explore making movies. They had characters, storylines, scripts all worked out.

Not only is it really nice to hear from Chris, but I'm glad he is following up his interests too. Take a look at his new site with information about up and coming movies.... watch this space!

I can't help but reflect on why kids are sooo taken by digital video. A few months ago now, Ultralab ran an event, BAFTA Interactive which was about celebrating children's success in new media and digital video. So why?

Here are a few thoughts....

  • Digital video is empowering; low cost and high quality (TV quality) video cameras are now available which allows kids to make films that emulate what they watch on television.
  • Computer hardware and software capable of editing digital video has become increasingly more accessible over recent years. Computers like the original iMac set a precedent for digital video on personal home computers.
  • Digital video is a creative medium... children love opportunities to be freed from constraints and structure.
  • This is the 'new literacy' - there aren't the demands on children to be able to read and write well. Digital video offers new opportunities to children who struggle with traditional forms of literacy or story telling.

Interesting that this technology places new and different demands and constraints on children. For example, the contraints now are related to the technology and not the opportunity, perhaps?


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