Farewell, And Thanks For All The Fish

This is a final well done message, and a reminder about submission requirements for assignments.

Full details of your assignments and how to submit are on your Moodle areas. But here are the key links so you have them all in one email.
–          And this is an exemplar.



EdLab Conference #3

EdLab Conference 24th March – 10am to 3pm
Agenda for Conference #3

10.00 Introductory Lecture: Assessment Orientations (Mark Peace and Mick Chesterman) Lecture Theatre 3

In this introductory session, we will revisit the assessment principles and requirement for the unit, and give some guidance on the kinds of forms that assessments can take.

11.00 Assignment Workshops

You will then move into your project teams, to begin to interrogate the substance, focus and form your assessment submissions will take. We want this session to give you space to actually get stuff done – so please bring along a device, and anticipate making a dent in working on your submission. Groups will report to the following rooms:

Elizabeth Gaskell’s House – BR 2.15 with John Lean
Early Years Explorers – BR 2.10 with Sean Mitchell
Environmental Play – BR 2.19 with Rachel Summerscales
The Language of Clay – BR 2.16 with Elle Simms
The Oubliette – BR 2.17 with Mark Peace
Mobilise Grimm and Co – BR 2.17 with Lauren Ash
The Game Makers – BR 2.18 with Mick Chesterman

In addition, we put on an additional workshop in BR 2.18 for students who have not engaged well enough in the process so far to feel confident in producing their assignments. It is important that you have identified yourselves to Mick Chesterman (m .chesterman @ mmu.ac.uk) ahead of the day.

13.00 Project Team Meetings / Working Lunch

The final hour of the day will be given over to project teams to continue any final development work on their planned outreach activity. Bring a packed lunch so that you can continue to work through this hour!

14.00 Ad Hoc Tutorials / Focused Session for the Students ‘Catching Up’ – 2.18/2.17

The remaining hour will be given over to allow further one-to-one support for students who need it, and for students ‘catching up’ with Mick to continue their development work.

If you do not need extra support, at this point, you are free to work independently on your assignment either in the spaces we have booked, or elsewhere.

15.00 END





Pilot Day 21/02/18

Some great initial reflections on our piloting day here.

The Oubliette Project

Hi all,

Just a quick blog update to document our progress at today’s piloting event! Since our last meeting with James we’ve taken time to reflect on our pressure pads and today put them under trial and error with the help of some very enthusiastic school children accompanied by their adults. Our entire team managed to make it down and I think I speak on behalf of my group when expressing my positivity towards mingling with the other groups and seeing how their mechanisms are getting along – suffice to say, very nicely!

How did it go?

Upon arriving, the drama studio looked ALIVE with all things Oubliette and participants started to arrive even earlier than the advised time – excited for some escape-room fun! Not just the children but their accompanying adults too, really seemed to engage and respond to each mechanism positively. The general set up of our pilot…

View original post 512 more words

Safe Guarding and Ethics of Project Work

It is a legal requirement that anybody working with children, young people or vulnerable adults is appropriately briefed on safeguarding. As such it is important that all EdLab students engage with this post carefully.

By its very nature your work in EdLab will put you in contact with external partners and individuals outside the university – and often, these will be children and young people. Whilst you should never be put in a position by which you are responsible for a group of children, it is important that you appropriate briefed and considerate of the responsibilities this brings to you for child protection, and more broadly for ethical and professional conduct.


The term ‘safeguarding’ is used to describe the processes and measures which are put in place in order to protect children, young people and vulnerable adults. This protection includes, of course, extreme instances of abuse and maltreatment – and the current legal framework was put in place in response to highly publicised failures of public bodies to respond to warning signs that children were in danger. Safeguarding does mean something a bit broader, though. The UK Government defines the term as;

‘The process of protecting children from abuse or neglect, preventing impairment of their health and development, and ensuring they are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care that enables children to have optimum life chances and enter adulthood successfully.’

(DERA, 2014)

This extends the reach of safeguarding beyond child protection to incorporate the additional aims of preventing adverse impacts on health and development, and the promotion of circumstances is which children can thrive through to adult life.

Responsibility to assure safeguarding lies with both organisations (in our case, with the university through EdLab) and individuals (your project coordinator and, importantly, you). There are some basic implications of safeguarding policy for you. These are very simple, and should not be complicated;

  • It is important that all EdLab students have completed a full DBS check. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have one, and our responsiblity to pay for it and to limit access to outreach activity without one. In rare situations in which it isn’t possible to gain a DBS (for some international students) alternative arrangements will be made for the student
  • At no point should an EdLab student be left in sole responsibility – the lead for the space you are working in should be the project coordinator, a class teacher or equivalent or the parents of children (who should remain with them at all times
  • If you are concerned, tell your project coordinator. One of the golden rules of safeguarding is that communication is important, and you should flag up any concern (even if you think it might be silly) about young people you are working with immediately with your project coordinator (let them decide whether further action should be taken). It is important to remember that there is no right to confedentiality in law … if a young person starts to disclose something to you, tell them that you will have to tell somebody, and then do tell somebody else, even if they don’t disclose anything.

At this point, we would like you to follow this link and confirm that you have read and understand your responsibilities regarding safeguarding.

Risk Assessment

Whilst the guidance above ensures that you are compliant with fundamental safeguarding commitments, there are additional responsibilities which you should be aware of. Most notably, you are responsible for ensuring that any participants are kept safe within the activities that you run for them. Risk assessment can sometimes get caught up in slightly silly rhetoric, but the fundamentals are pretty simple. The usual process goes something like this…

  • Identify all of the hazards associated with your work. This is anything which might feasibly pose perils to physical or psychological health.
  • Consider which of these hazards constitute risks. Hazards only become risks if they are likely to occur, and if they would be unsafe if they did. This is the process by which you ensure your risk assessment is both effective and sensible, by identifying the things that are most likely to need planning for
  • Finally, you should establish precautions which will be taken in order to prevent risks turning into genuine dangers. What will you do in order to minimise the danger posed by hazards?

Usually, risk assessments are recorded in forms that look something like this – and shared with everyone involved in running the activity.

Professional Conduct

Work on educational outreach projects also has broader implications in terms of your personal conduct. It hopefully goes without saying, but we expect you to behave in professional ways – it is very easy to accidentally damage external relationships if not, and this makes arranging future projects very difficult. Everybody involved, including the outside guests who attend your project work, understands that you may well be inexperienced and novice at ‘doing education’ – and nobody expects that things will be perfect. Equally, though, there is basic level of professional conduct which is expected of our students in how you conduct yourselves within your teams, and in your interactions with those outside the university. Critical to this is effective communication and reliability; other people are often relying on the work that you do, whether its your project team or guests who are attending your activities – and it is therefore critical that you meet your commitments and deadlines. It is also important that you keep communicating with your project team throughout the process … even if things are going entirely to plan.

Quality Assuring your Work

The final dimension of this blog post relates to the importance of taking every reasonable precaution to ensure that your activities and events run smoothly and effectively. As noted above, we don’t expect everything to always run as you expect (indeed, education rarely works like this!) – however there is an extent to which, with some careful though, you can plan for the unexpected. In lots of ways, this process mirrors that of safeguarding, in that it follows these steps (but focused on things that might disrupt the smooth-running of your work, rather than responding to danger)…

  • Work out everything that could go wrong when your run your activity.
  • Audit each hazard in terms of how likely it is to go wrong, and how damaging it would be if it did.

You can then prioritise responses according to this framework:


… In which you would have very definite fall-back plans to respond to anything red (high likelihood and high impact), and be aware of the possibility of anything yellow. The stuff in green, can be fairly safely deprioritised to give more space to focus on the more risky stuff.

Half Term Piloting Activity

We have agreed to have some piloted and refined protoypes ready for testing as part of a public half-term offer in the wb. 19th February. So that I can properly arrange this, please can I ask you to complete the doodle poll which can be found at this link…


Based on your availability, I will start to put together a schedule for the week (hopefully I can do this quite quickly!).

Note: it’s helpful if you could indicate all the times your are available in the poll – don’t just indicate your preference, it’ll be a nightmare to organise otherwise!

The Project Plan

Our second project conference day was a resounding success, and we made loads of progress pinning down the practical commitments for the Oubliette. So, get ready for a long email, which you could do with paying very careful attention to! The headlines here are two dimensions of programme update; firstly, on the mathematical activities we’re basing our rooms on, and the teams who will develop them; secondly, on the underlying organisation and mechanics of the space and the narrative which we will embed it in.

Decisions on our Mathematical Mechanisms

Our main commitment was in creating our final shortlist of mathematical mechanisms which we will then prototype and pilot in sub-teams. These agreed teams were as follows (more info on the mechanisms they reference can be found in this document):

Robyn, Sabeeka, Heena, Chloe, Neave :

  • Refraction Room
  • Dance Geometry and/or Floor Grid

Lucy, Jordan, Anna, Maryam and Santiago:

  • Tantrix Puzzle
  • Robot Maze

Maaria, Saher, Rebekah and Jade

  • ‘Golden Idol’ Weight Swap + Rube Machine (combination of the two)
  • Projectile Launcher and/or Pressure Sensors

Sophie, Sanna, Nansin and Paloma

  • Equation-Based Padlocks
  • Cog Construction and/or X-Y drawing machine.

IMPORTANT: If you are not in this list you need to contact me asap with a preference as to which you want to join … there will be a degree of me allocating people, though, to ensure that groups are balanced. I aim to allocate people by Wednesday – so get in touch quickly if you have a preference.

Each team will now work to develop, prototype and pilot a design for their room. I have encouraged groups to do something ‘quick and dirty’ to begin with. Find a cheap and easy way of creating a version of your rooms which can be quickly trialled and refined/re-trialled with friends and family. Ideally, this will happen quite quickly (the next couple of weeks). When you have a bit more confidence in the design of your room, you can work to create a more refined prototype.

Remember, we are aiming to have working prototypes in place by wb 19th February at the very latest so that we can contribute to the half-term EdLab offer.

In support of your prototyping, you may want to draw on two sources of support;

  • Contact me with any small-scale purchases you need. At this stage, things up to £20 are straightforward, and if we need more expensive things, do ask. The easiest way of doing this is to find something on Amazon (ideally, the cheapest version of this) and send me the link.
  • Contact James Ferguson for technical support with the fabrication of prototypes. James is one of our Faculty technicians, and can support with laser cutting, 3d printing, basic electronics, wood construction, etc.

Remember, in designing and prototyping your rooms, we are looking to realise the following qualities:

  • The activities we design should be based on the fundamental commitments of the Oubliette to be a) collaborative and b) embodied in nature. In other words, players shouldn’t be able to solve them without getting up, moving around and working with others.
  • Challenges should be differentiable; we should be able to adapt them to include adults or toddlers (we did note, though, that the latter might be more of a sensory type room, and the ‘challenge’ could require interaction with accompanying parents)
  • They should take 10 to 15 minutes to solve (piloting will be critical to this). To support timings, you should consider ways of giving hints/support if participants are struggling, and a ‘playful’ mode for people who finish early.
  • We should be able to imagine ways of embedding the underlying mechanism into a meaningful challenge
  • There is enough funding to ensure that the space is staffed, but not enough to ensure that there will always be some  one in every room. At least four rooms should be able to have ‘light touch’ supervision, with one student looking after two spaces.
  • We do have the capacity to use technologies (loud speakers, screens/projectors, etc) as a way of managing spaces

We have enough money, and technological support, to do quite fancy things with our rooms – so do have an aspirational wishlist of you’d like them to work. At the same time, though, it’d be good to have some fallback plans for simpler versions.

Decisions on our Game Mechanics and Narratives

The group were very quickly unanimous that they liked the ‘lost in time’ narrative for the space which was originally proposed by Chloe in the first Saturday session. This approach makes it much easier for us to accommodate the episodic, non-linear experience of players moving around the rooms on a carousel. We agreed a core ‘writing team’ who will meet to take responsibility for the overall narrative. This consisted of Chloe (we assumed you’d want to be part of this), Heena, Robyn and Lucy. These four will also contribute to the room development teams, though they may have to give a little less to make space for the narrative development. Their first task will be to meet to flesh out the overarching story (what greets the players as they arrive to the space?) – and to think carefully about how this would be presented differently to different age groups (I’ll let you decide how many ‘versions’ there will be).

The ‘lost in time’ MacGuffin affords room design teams a degree of creative freedom in how they theme their spaces … we could lurch from the ancient mayans to the distant dystopian future. Room design teams can start to think about this, though I’m going to ask the writing team to take ownership of the balance of the overall narrative so be ready to be flexible and defer to them in terms of theming. We’ll also need to think, of course, about the differentiation of the experience within rooms to accommodate different groups.

Next Key Milestones

I would like to reached final confirmation of the working groups by Wednesday of this week, so please contact me if you aren’t allocated asap.

Ideally, I would then like all groups to have prototyped and piloted something for each of their two rooms in the next two weeks. This can be pretty rough and ready, though, and using friends and family to gain insight. You should also start to form a sense of what your ‘next step’ prototype might look like, and have a chat with James about support with fabrication.

In the same timeframe (i.e. the next two weeks), I’d like the narrative group to have met and be ready to share with everybody else in terms of a bit more detailing of the plot.

Keeping Me Updated: Do Some Blogging

Please can I ask for ‘little and often’ blog posts from each team along the way so I can keep track of where we’re up to. At this stage, it’s absolutely fine for one person to take responsibility for a blog update from each meeting, and the others to simply reblog it.

I would like all teams to have produced a summary update blog post on their progress (prototyping and piloting) by 31st January – will reblog these on this main blog so we’re all up to speed

Bonus Material: Towards a Trip

Heena noted how useful it would be for us to visit some escape rooms – so let’s see if we can blag some free trips in exchange for sponsorship. Claire was going to follow up on this with a couple of contacts she has.

EdLab Conference #2

Welcome back to university, and the next phase of your EdLab engagement. In the first conference in December, project teams met to begin to generate possible ideas and directions – and you should have sustained this work, with support through your project coordinators blog – since this point. Our next conference will take place this Saturday (13th) between 10 and 3. Through this day, you will start to form some more concrete plans for the development and execution of your projects, set some milestones and establish responsibilities for the delivery of them.

The agenda for the day will take the following structure:

9.45 – Arrival

10.00 – Keynote: The Seven Deadly Sins of Education – Mark Peace (Lecture Theatre 3)

10.45 – Project Workshops

  • The Oubliette – 2.18
  • Elizabeth Gaskell’s House – 2.17
  • Mobilise Grimm and Co –  2.16
  • Environmental Play –  2.15
  • Early Years Explorers – 2.19
  • The Language of Clay – 2.31
  • The Game Makers – 2.07

12.00 – Working lunch: During this hour, you should work independently in support of tasks developing your project. In addition, the following workshops are available.

  • 12.00 to 12.30: Support with blogging – 3.68 
  • 12.30 to 13.00: Applying for Teacher Training (third year students only) – 2.18

13.00 – Project Workshops (various rooms)

  • The Oubliette – 2.18
  • Elizabeth Gaskell’s House– 2.17 
  • Mobilise Grimm and Co – 2.16
  • Environmental Play –  2.15
  • Early Years Explorers – 2.19
  • The Language of Clay – 2.31
  • The Game Makers – 2.07

14.30 – Plenary: Briefing on your assessed work (Juliette Wilson Thomas) – LT3

Important: Please make sure that you have undertaken any preparatory tasks for your project ahead of this day.