Alan O’Donohoe writes: I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you, our Raspberry Jam community for supporting our OCR Raspberry Jamboree, the second annual convention to share the educational potential of the Raspberry Pi community. I’d also like to thank our sponsors OCR, Pimoroni, CPC, Cyntech, ModMyPi, Exa Education, MathWorks, BCS Manchester, MagPi Magazine, Raspberry Pi Geek and Ciseco. In particular I also wish to thank Lisa Mather for organising an excellent party and Dawn Hewitson particularly for support with the hack day.
On Thursday 27th and Friday 28th February [link to show guide], about 400 travelled to Manchester for the first two days of our event and then 150 attended our family Jam Hack Day at Edge Hill University, Ormskirk [link to information] on Saturday 1st March.
I’m a computing teacher and my current roles include training other teachers as well as teaching my own classes. I am convinced that the Raspberry Pi has terrific educational potential, not just in Computing lessons but across the whole curriculum and beyond, more about later. One ambition of mine is to share the power of Pi with other teachers and those who support Computing education.
I deliberately chose to ‘piggy back’ onto the EICE education event in Manchester as this would allow us to attract an audience of teachers that would not normally attend a Raspberry Pi specific event. By running our conference within another conference we can evangelise about the Raspberry Pi to a wider audience.
The 2013 Jamboree event we held in Manchester was a much more exclusive affair running in a separate enclosed space and the audience mostly comprised of those who were already converted to Raspberry Pi. This year I wanted our event to be much more open and welcoming to ‘non-geeks’ and so I agreed to site our various activities in locations spread around the EICE event. It was clear that a small number of our attendees did not fully appreciate this and would have preferred to be segregated from the main flurry of activity. I believe my plan largely succeeded as confirmed by the discussions with many teachers who confessed to knowing little about the Raspberry Pi, but who joined in with our sessions after being tempted by what was on offer.
If you were unable to attend this year’s event dont worry; over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing recordings from our Slice Of Pi talks and links to resources shared at the Jamboree. These will be shared on YouTube later, but you can go and listen to some teachers opinions of the event including Clive of Raspberry Pi and Simon Humphreys of Computing At School.
At one point I had to ask some of our delegates to refrain from apologising for not being a teacher, and this then became the running joke. The one thing that we all have in common, both teachers and non-teachers is that we all want to see the Raspberry Pi succeed – you shouldn’t need to apologise for this.
As well as 29 x Slices Of Pi (talks), we also held 3 x ‘Pi Panel Discussions’, 12 x hands-on ‘Raspberry Mastery’ classroom sessions and 26 x ‘Pi Gurus’ on the OCR stand. We had 65 speakers/session leaders. We ran an after school event on the Thursday evening and we celebrated the 2nd birthday of the Raspberry Pi with a party on the Friday night.
Then on day 3, Saturday 1st March, 150 parents, children, teachers and students travelled to Edge Hill University to take part in a family hack day. We offered a range of taster sessions and booster classes before allowing groups to work together on project of their choosing. We followed this with a grand prize giving session.
Over these last two years, I’ve enjoyed all of the rewards and the challenges that Raspberry Jam has brought me. The one thing I’ve strugged with is the volume of teaching and Raspberry Jam related email I receive. To help alleviate this problem, my next plan will be to produce a short documentary, a Raspberry Jam toolkit that shows what a Raspberry Jam event looks like and how to go about running your own.
It would be great to hold another Raspberry Jamboree again in 2015, but I’ll need a lot more support from people willing to share the organisational burden. There has been some recent suggestions to relocate the venue to one further south eg. Cambridge, though I’m not convinced of the merits of such a move. The current Manchester venue offers great transport links, a range of accommodation from £11 per night and is fairly central to the whole of the UK. The other attraction that fits perectly with the Jamboree’s aim of helping teachers discover the educational potential – is that linking it the EICE education event allows access to a wider audience than a group of geeks that are already making extensive use of the Raspberry Pi.