Thursday, November 17, 2016

Teach Meet Tech London 3

Teach Meet Tech 3 (#tmtl3) is the third inspireNshare Teach Meet Tech education and technology fusion event - unique TeachMeet x TechMeet events that bring together tech startups, students, teachers, IT people, schools, AE, FE, HE, 6th form colleges, libraries and the general public to talk about Education & technology.

Teach Meet Tech 3 is organised in association with CCS Libraries and the LMN and takes place on Thursday 15th December 2016 at Thornton Heath public library. 

The aim of Teach Meet Tech is to bring as many of the different parts of education together as possible and see what happens.

You can read about the latest education ideas or technologies or watch education and technology "rock star" presentations on-line on TED for example so physical events have to offer something unique and compelling for those people who take the time, effort and expense to transport their bodies to be present in person. For Teach Meet Tech 3 we wanted to start exploring the advantages of being present in person (pip) so we added an unconference experiment to facilitate and amplify those things you can best do (and maybe only do) if you are present in person. The afternoon unconference has hands on experiences, conversations and the type of interconnection and serendipity that can help catalyse innovation, creativity, change and adaptation.

The background theme for Teach Meet Tech 3 is very much about people. We start the morning conference with "Human in the Loop" - a presentation about the imperative to balance systems thinking with design thinking in education and technology. We finish the morning conference with  “Are we accessible yet?  Who’s responsibility is it?” a presentation by Hector Minto - Microsoft's senior technology evangelist for accessibility. The morning conference has its own share of serendipity with "Surprise!" ... a presentation by Miles Metcalf ... Miles is always deeply thought provoking and I can't wait to hear what he has to say ... like you ... I have no idea what it will be ... we'll have to be there to find out :)

The afternoon unconference has hands and heads on with virtual reality and augmented reality. We'll be talking about the potential of immersive first person perspectives, seeing ourselves in virtual reality and experiencing Microsoft's revolutionary Hololens technology! We have hands on with digital paper circuitry and conversations about learner voice and technology, using smartphones in teaching and learning, games, interactive fiction, making/makerspaces, creative techy stuff, bring drawings to life with digital paper circuitry and Mozfest.

Find out more and register for free tickets at

Teach Meet Tech

Fission was a defining technology of the 20th century and "splitting the atom" .... the rational, analytical, reductionism of splitting something into smaller manageable bits that can be conquered and easily measured has come to define many of the operational principles and thought processes of the 20th century.

Much of current formal education is a legacy of 20th century fission - split into so many separate (even conflicting parts) and divided into levels that rarely mix. Most education events reflect this fission - focusing on specific sectors or areas only - creating separate and defined bubbles of experience - rarely would a network manager mix in an event with students or someone in the school sector mix with those in the university sector for example.

Educational fission is good for management and measurement but creates a set filter bubbles with all the conditions for memetic "in-breading" that reinforces the status quo and acts against innovation and change .... its no wonder the education system has such difficulty with progressive innovation and change. 

Exponential and combinatorial developments in information and communication technologies present completely different social challenges to those presented by the industrial and engineering technologies of the 20th century. 21st century technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics excel at the easily measurable and testable rational analytical reductionist fission material we find in the formal education system. 21st century technologies are set to displace the very skills taught and learned in our 20th century education system! 

The education system today seems hellbent on teaching future generations to be drivers in a driverless future. Our education systems must shift from teaching people how to navigate to teaching people how to explore. Machines excel at navigation - our education systems must rebalance and shift from teaching people those things which machines can do better than us to teaching things that people still do better than machines - imagination, creativity, holistic and synthetic thinking and most of all the ability to learn rather than just remember because the future is unknown.

Fusion may come to define the 21st century.

Physicists are in a worldwide race to create stable fusion devices that could not only mimic the Sun but release abundant energy, without the volumes of toxic waste generated by fission ..It's true: nuclear fusion and Iron Man are here to save the world.

Fusion needs to define education in the 21st century

Diversity and interconnection are essential elements in evolution and innovation. To evolve, innovate and thrive in the 21st century education needs to shift from fission to fusion - to shift from closed, disconnected and standardised practice to open, connected and diverse practice. Education needs to embrace fusion and evolution through diverse connections, sharing and variation to catalyse innovation, creativity, change, adaptation and evolution.

Its time for education to use its imagination!

The aim of Teach Meet Tech is to bring as many of the different parts of education together as possible and see what happens.

Teach Meet Tech is an inspireNshare education and technology fusion event series - unique TeachMeet x TechMeet events bringing together tech startups, students, teachers, IT people, schools, AE, FE, HE, 6th form colleges, libraries and the general public to talk about Education & technology.

The next Teach Meet Tech Event is on Thursday 15th December - see

To find out more visit

To find out more about inspireNshare visit

Monday, November 7, 2016

Pop Up Thinglab 20: MAKE:VR at Mozfest

Making virtual reality viewers

Pop Up Thinglab 20 was an inspireNshare MAKE:VR virtual reality workshop in the Youth Zone at Mozfest 2016 with Croydon Library staff, code club children and volunteers.

Croydon library and their code club children helped us re-imagine libraries and their role in the 21st century with citizen tech. We made virtual reality viewers and virtual reality content and shared ideas about libraries and their role in our future.

Virtual reality has been used to help treat severe paranoia 
For me our Mozfest virtual reality session started when I boarded a crowded underground train at Canada Water. I got on just as the doors were closing - there was space for a few more people but one man was getting agitated and expressed concern there wasn't enough room for anyone else - in conversation it turned out he suffered from claustrophobia. I tried to take his mind of the situation with conversation - I asked him how far he had to go and mentioned I was on my way to Mozfest 2016 and explained what Mozfest was. I talked to him about virtual reality and how it can be used to treat anxieties with exposure therapies - being exposed to the feared object or context in virtual reality without any real danger so you to become used to an object or situation and help reduce fear. I told him about how people's fear of spiders, heights and claustrophobia can be helped using virtual reality, Being on the tube talking to a man with claustrophobia reminded me of Daniel Freeman's work using a virtual reality underground train to help treat severe paranoia

"The research team, led by Professor Daniel Freeman from Oxford University’s Department of Psychiatry, wanted to test whether patients could 're-learn' that a situation was safe, by experiencing situations they feared without using their defence behaviours.

But being in a situation they fear is very difficult for many patients, since it causes intolerable anxiety. To overcome this challenge the team used virtual reality to recreate social situations which patients found fearful.

... patients went into virtual reality simulations with increasing numbers of computer characters ('avatars') – seeing many people at the same time would normally make these patients quite anxious. But participants were told that by staying in the situations, they would relearn that they were safe. A train ride and a lift scene were used ... Patients who fully tested out their fears in virtual reality were later much less distressed even when in a real world situation"

A view from the VR camera on the MAKE:VR table
At Mozfest we setup our session as a rolling practical workshop making VR viewers, making VR content and having conversations about libraries, new technology and virtual reality. 

Rather than a “classically scripted” presentation or session we explored a Dadaist style Cut Up improvised “Jazz” technique to “unpresent” an interactive non-linear session using conversations and objects to adapt and scale in real-time and for participants to explore personally.

Experimenting with the 360 degree VR selfie

We hit the ground running making virtual reality headsets and media with the 360\virtual reality camera. This was citizen tech in action - ordinary people participating in technology as the science of craft in an open, fun, accessible and cost effective way.

Face Your Fears is one of our most popular virtual reality trips
My earlier conversation on the tube about virtual reality and phobia therapies continued in our Mozfest MAKE:VR session as we spoke about some of the virtual reality trips available. People want different things from virtual reality but the most common thing people want seems to be a thrill and this involves facing at least a little bit of fear. I spoke about how virtual reality is being used in exposure therapies to help people overcome fear of spiders, claustrophobia, public speaking and height. One of our most popular virtual reality trips at the moment is "Face Your Fears

"Face Your Fears is an experience that exposes you to terrifying scenes based on common fears and phobias.  In Skyscraper, a player stands on the ledge of a skyscraper in the middle of a big city.  When looking down, a giant robot is climbing up towards the player.  In the Haunting, players experience the fear and excitement of being a little kid in bed in a room where things are not what they seem. What starts with a creaking house and distant thunder, crescendos into frightening moments that build up based on where the player is looking (or not looking)."

Dad records a teen pop concert in VR for his daughter
One of the adults that came along talked about the TV advert
for the Samsung Gear 360 camera where a dad records a teen pop concert with the VR camera for his sick daughter to watch. We spoke about attending events in virtual reality and how this might change the nature of events - imagine if everyone attended an event in virtual reality - the event would be empty and it just wouldn't be the same. People are already half present at events as they spend so much time fiddling with their smartphones - imagine what it will be like if they are busy recording or streaming an event for virtual reality - an event might as well be attended by remote controlled drones. We spoke about the value of presence ... actually being at a place and how this is deeper and different from on-line presence. It takes a lot if investment in time and energy to transport your body to an event - events will need to take more care in making it worthwhile to attend in person otherwise they might as well be held virtually or attended only by drones. Being lectured to is no longer enough - we can watch this flat on Youtube - its social interaction and serendipity that adds dimension to real life events.

Talking about libraries and technology

We had conversations about libraries and their role in the future. 

"Libraries are ideal venues for 21st century learning"

Today is the most active and exciting time I have known in digital technology and the signs are that the rate of development is only going to become faster - for better or for worse this is just the start of the digital revolution and the information age. Many adults expressed concerns about keeping up with technology and how they can do this. Life-long, life-wide learning is where libraries, adult and community education come in. Libraries are especially useful as gateways to learning - they are open public places with no entry level criteria for learning. Libraries are ideal venues for 21st century learning - anyone can come along to learn what they like without prejudice, without judgement and in their own way.

"Libraries are our open university"

Libraries are open education spaces - you can just walk in off the street and read a book or a paper, access the internet and take part in a wide range of activities which are usually free.

To find out more about inspireNshare visit

To find out more about inspireNshare Thinglab visit

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Pop Up Thinglab 19 Make:Shift:Do 3D Printing

Pop Up Thinglab 19 was an inspireNshare 3D printing workshop and open session as part of the UK Craft Council Make:Shift:Do event at Croydon Library on Halloween Saturday. It was a heads on and hands on introduction to the role of libraries in the future and 3D printing with simple, friendly, accessible and cost effective "citizen tech”. It was an opportunity to learn how to get started making and printing in 3D.

The workshop started "heads on" where we covered the development of 3D printing, a simple technical explanation of how it works and the current state of 3D printing with a description of products, platforms, prices and capabilities to help you find, model and make things.

For beginners I recommended Thingiverse as a 3D printing gallery and Tinkercad as a modelling tool and when I mentioned that Tinkercad models could be downloaded to Minecraft we had quite a discussion about the connection between virtual worlds, virtual reality and 3D printing. There is deep fascination in making virtual objects real by 3D printing them and anytime I mention Minecraft it's like ringing a division bell - anyone under 16 gets quite excited and immediately engaged - there is obvious potential in teaching and learning.

At the end of the workshop we opened the doors for an open Thinglab where we printed items from the inspireNhare Thingiverse collections and talked about 3D printing in general.

Items from the inspireNshare Halloween collection printed with glow in the dark PLA

We spoke about how 3D printing is used in medicine - I told people about the first time I came across this a few years ago when surgeons saved baby's life using a 3-D printed windpipe. We went on to talk about printing biological materials and how 3D printed skin can help burn victims and avoid the use of animals in pharmaceutical and cosmetic testing testing. We spoke about how a 3D Printed Heart Replica Helped Save the Life of a Nine-Month-Old Baby and about how 3D printing is increasingly important and useful to make prosthetics.  

We spoke about how maybe one day every home might have a 3D printer and how this would affect standard business models and the effect on the environment of all the chains in transportation needed to get an object from remote centralised manufacturing (often in distant countries such a China) to you. Many people ask if 3D printing can use recycled materials and thanks to Filamentive we had a range of recycled 3D printer filament samples and some objects such as the Boneheads: Skull Box w/ Brain which I managed to print with their rPLA to show and talk about.

Boneheads: Skull Box w/ Brain printed using recycled PLA from Filamentive

We spoke about how 3D printing is especially useful in remote areas where you can't easily just go down the shop and buy something (or order it on-line for delivery) -  with a 3D printer you have your own local manufacturing facility. In space you can't take everything up with you so the ability to make objects on demand locally and to use recycled materials will be critical .. especially on missions to Mars for example. I told people about the projects to use the local materials of other planets with 3D printers e.g. NASA Tests Feasibility of 3D Printing on the Moon & Other Planets Using In-situ Materials and a Really Hot Laser.

We spoke about 3D printing food and especially chocolate and about the difference between craft and design. Craft is tangible and the time and effort is in the making whereas design is virtual and the time and effort is in the "composition" - the design can be shared, edited and remixed and the making can be automated. Using a 3D printing pen is crafting - its very much like icing - it creates a hand made one off work of art and requires manual technique and dexterity. Using 3D modelling with a 3D printer is design - its like baking from a recipe - the recipe is designed with 3D modelling tools and made using a 3D printer ... the extruder nozzles of FDM 3D printers even operate at the same temperatures as ovens and making can take a long time so the analogy with oven baking isn't that far off :)  

InspireNshare designed bookmark keytag with graphic

I spoke with a group of children who were examining the various iterations of my bookmark keytag design and had quite a conversation with them about the design process and design thinking. I explained how you can add simple graphics to a 3D design for 3D printing and explained how I had used the 3D printer to prototype and test options for the design such as overall size and thickness, flap size, the hole size and the location and the size of the "plate" area to add customised graphics. I explained that one design seemed just fine until I noticed that in actual use it left quite an impression on the page - the library wouldn't like this as it would damage their stock. I though this could be solved by making the whole bookmark thiner so 3D printed a thiner prototype to test until I arrived at a design that was just thick enough to be robust but just thin enough not to leave too much of an impression on the page.

At the end of the open session people took away 3D printed objects made on the day as well as some I had "baked" earlier from the inspireNhare Thingiverse collections and as it was Halloween Saturday there were 3D printed glow in the dark things to take away from the inspireNshare Halloween collection. 

Thank you to 
CCS Libraries for their support
The Crafts Council UK for their support
Ultimaker for the loan of an Ultimaker 2 3D printer
Filamentive for a sample selection of recycled filaments

For more images of Pop Up Thinglab 19 visit: Thinglab 19 images (Flickr album)

To find out more about inspireNshare visit
To find out more about inspireNshare Thinglab visit
For my bookmarks on 3D printing visit
For the inspireNshare Thingverse collection visit 

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Pop Up Thinglab 18 Make:Shift:Do Virtual Reality

Family DIY Virtual reality at the CCS Libraries inspireNshare Make Shift Do

Pop Up Thinglab 18 was an inspireNshare virtual reality workshop and travel agency as part of the UK Craft Council Make:Shift:Do event at Croydon Library. It was a hands on and heads on introduction to  the role of libraries in the future and virtual Reality with simple, friendly, accessible and cost effective "citizen tech”. It was an opportunity to see yourself in virtual reality and make and take away your own virtual reality viewer.

One of the wonderful things about libraries is that they welcome everyone - they have no minimal entry level requirements, testing, measurement or grading. Our workshop and hands on session in Croydon central library had all ages, abilities and backgrounds and it was wonderful to see everyone learning together.

Library Learning: all ages, abilities and backgrounds can learn together  
The workshop started "heads on" where we covered the development of virtual reality, a simple technical explanation of how it works and the current state of virtual reality with a description of products, platforms, prices and capabilities. The second part of the workshop was "hands on" where we made Google Cardboard virtual reality viewers to use with our smartphones to see virtual reality. It was a real pleasure to see children help their parents to make the DIY headsets and to describe and talk about virtual reality with them.

DIY Virtual reality ... Making virtual reality viewers 
At the end of the workshop we opened the doors for a "virtual reality travel agency" where we we took roller coaster rides, travelled the world, visited space and faced our fears with a variety of virtual reality viewers.

Going places in your local library with virtual reality

We talked about how virtual reality can be used to provide new learning and entertainment opportunities through first person perspectives. Getting into space is an expensive and difficult endeavour but virtual reality can get you there with a first person perspective relatively easily and cheaply. We spoke about virtual reality entertainment and education trips into space and how NASA use virtual reality to train astronauts especially to prepare for emergency situation and operations outside the space station. We spoke about how Tim Peak had been through virtual reality simulations of the manual docking manoeuvre with the international space station - something that had to be done on his real mission to space although one of the other astronauts carried out the manual docking on that occasion.

One of the adults was an engineer and told me how hid company used virtual reality to model engineering plant before construction and to train engineers in service and maintenance operations.

We had conversations about how the first person perspective of virtual reality can help you see and hopefully understand the world from different perspectives by "walking in someone else's shoes". We spoke about how virtual reality can develop empathy and about how the United Nations is using Virtual reality to raise awareness about vulnerable communitiesWe spoke about how it would be useful for decision makers to use virtual reality to understand the different perspectives before and after a decision - people thought it would be most useful for politicians in particular to have a first person perspective on the consequences of the decisions they make. Politicians were seen as being too remote and removed from the reality of everyday life and that virtual reality could help bring them closer to reality.

We spoke about how virtual reality can be used in education to bring new experiences into teaching and learning. I mentioned Donald Clark's video on how virtual reality can bring experiential learning into physics and astronomy - for example getting the sense of how physics operates in the zero gravity environment of the space station. We also talked about how new perspectives through virtual reality could give people a better understanding of certain topics - using virtual reality to take a "Fantastic Voyage" through the human body, the solar system or see chemical reactions at the molecular level first hand! 

We finished our hands on session by putting ourselves in the picture by taking and viewing virtual reality selfies - its something that always helps to bring home the reality of virtual reality.

 Family learning 360\virtual reality selfie

Pop Up Thinglab 18 combined craft and technology -  Sara Brouwer from the UK Crafts Council summed it up perfectly 

Cardboard paper craft + smart phone = a brand new VR headset & world travel! ✨👓📲🌎 Super family workshop by for

Thank you to 
CCS Libraries for their support
The Crafts Council UK for their support
Ultimaker for the loan of an Ultimaker 2 3D printer
Filamentive for a sample selection of recycled filaments

For more images of Pop Up Thinglab 18 visit: Thinglab 18 images (Flickr album)

To find out more about inspireNshare visit
To find out more about inspireNshare Thinglab visit
For my bookmarks on 3D printing visit
For the inspireNshare Thingiverse collection visit