Winter Session at Rajmala School
Workshops conducted by: Kunal Jain & Jatinder Marwaha
Date: 1st January – 4th January, 2016
The 3-day workshop was designed as a more intensive session with sonic-pi for the teams that participated in the 3-day workshop in May. We were able to pull in the same students hence the students already were aware of the processes and methodologies involved. This time, we also planned to introduce the networked platform developed in-house to start building awareness of the intricacies involved with working with online persona and content sharing.
As before, each day started with a few simple participatory exercises, designed to loosen the students (and teachers) and prepare them for instructions. For this session, the exercises were shortened and made more specific to the content matter presented right after.
Students were given a quick recap on the Pi, Sonic-Pi, and basic instruction sets. A rough outline of programming concepts and how they related to the Pi was described. The group was split into their teams and asked to go through some sample blocks preloaded on each terminal. These pieces ranged from simple loops to a Bach fugue and a jam loop. Each group were asked to spend some time understanding some of the techniques used, experiment with moving code blocks around and creating variations. At the end of the session, each team presented their work to the class and feedback from other teams were encouraged.
Day 2 started with a review of day 1 and introduction to a few advanced commands (in_thread, sample). A library of samples (pre-downloaded on each terminal due to lack of internet access) were demonstrated and each team was asked to go through and select a few to play with using the learnt commands. At the middle of the session, each team presented their work to the class for feedback.
The final project was introduced as per the lesson plan and in the remaining time, the teams were asked to start thinking of a concept for the piece as per the parameters set in the plan.
At the end of the session, the class was introduced to the concept of online persona and the role of the Code Combinator application as a platform for creating one for each of their teams An overview was provided on how this initial exercise will be a starting point for their interactions with teams from other classes/schools in the near future. However, due to an issue with the application and the local wifi network, they were not able to complete building their profiles on the platform.
The teams started work on their final project. The teaching assistants presented an example project which was used to demonstrate the aspects of making a good presentation (which the teams were to make to the School Principal at the end of the session). Another task planned for the day was to continue working on their fledgling online persona and start contributing content by adding comments to other teams’ uploaded projects. However, due to an administrative mixup, the day got over before either could happen and the class had to be dismissed before the students’ final presentations could be made. A later presentation for the teams has been scheduled for later in the semester. On this day, the teams will finish uploading their projects to the platform and add their comments as well, which will help to build their understanding of privacy and ownership.
- Students were easily more comfortable with programming concepts and by the 3rd day were building loops with ease. Multithreading was tricker and took a while to understand, but sonic-pi’s responsive feedback helped greatly here.
- Some students showed active interest in developing further and asked for the pi set and sonic-pi software for personal use. The teachers have been requested to allow the students regular access to the stations as manageable by their schedules.
- The initial exercises helped the students to connect Sonic-Pi concepts effectively with actual programming concepts.
the school administration and faculty have expressed great enthusiasm for the potential of the project to introduce students to basic concepts of coding while navigating the murky waters of modern communication platforms. We are in the process of establishing a more sustainable delivery method to continue engaging the students through the year.
- To allow for a more standard setup, we compiled an essential list of software/hardware required to run such a workshop and consolidated them into a portable kit that can be carried to sites and set up as a teacher station relatively easily.
- The technology platform to be used for holding and sharing each team’s content is also in progress and can be previewed at: http://go.triplec.global . We plan to use this platform during our next sessions.
- The issues faced were largely about the sustainability of running and maintaining the idea of the workshop over time. We need to work more on this and outline the key issues and possibly approaches.
- There were some technical issues with the network due to which the application was not tested by the students as yet. We are currently midway through the development of the application platform and intend to fully implement it usage during the next sessions. In particular, we would want to better understand the international networking aspect of the project.
- Class timing limitations was an issue at times, since students had to catch their buses after end of school and we had to stick to fixed schedules to fit our sessions in.
- It can help greatly if we can use a consultant on site with some musical background to help explain some concepts and help the teams when working on their compositions.
- Due to the school’s remote location from the center, there were logistical issues faced by the team – travel times, setup preparation as well as power and networking issues—keeping these in mind, the lesson plans were prepared without any network dependencies. Also, the hardware used could be mostly supported by solar and battery backup in case of power failure. More investigation into alternative setup is required. Internet access is also another requirement for successful networking, and though the workshops were designed to run on local networks, later workshops will be requiring stable connections to the rest of the world.
We hope to push the networking components of the project during the next session. The Code Combinator platform would be fully developed by then, and the students would be able to upload and share their work with students from other schools, initiating an interaction across socio/economic/lingual/cultural barriers. Simultaneous sessions would be held at the Parsons (New York) and the Philippines locations.
Instructors (from TripleC)
Faculty present (from schools):
12 students from grades 6-8