Back to School Click

Back to School

This edition of Click discovers how technology is being used in school classrooms and looks at the latest educational games, gadgets and apps.

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This week we are going back to school.


It's the start of September, and I'm sitting in with Year 10


computer science at the Brooke Weston Academy.


This is Mr Chambers, award-winning tech teacher,


and today we are learning about logic gates.


Unusually, a lot of this lesson is going to take place in Minecraft.


So can I ask you to log on to the computers and we will


Microsoft bought this highly popular game for $2.5 billion back in 2014.


Since then, behind closed doors, it has been developing a version


specifically for use in the classroom.


A couple of months ago, the Minecraft education edition


started its public beta, offering schools the chance to try


it out and incorporate it into lessons.


And because they say that teaching others helps one to learn,


You put three blocks next to each other.


Logic gates are the building blocks of computer science,


things that govern what the ones and zeros do inside your machine.


It just so happens that the creative building environment of Minecraft


lets you build and visualise logic gates really easily.


In fact, all the students here have played Minecraft before,


and that is the theory behind using it in class.


What do you think about using Minecraft to do it,


Because we know, we've all played Minecraft,


so we are interested to see how we can use it in a lesson.


I can see why the students have hit the ground running and can


immediately engage with the game, but what about the teachers who have


to plan their lessons inside Minecraft?


There is a big education community out there on the Minecraft education


website, and most of the teachers are on there communicating with each


other at the moment and getting ideas, which is great.


But to pick it up and use it, it is like any tool,


to be honest, so if you have to use power point, how long does that


It requires a level of creativity from the teacher, doesn't it.


It is not just writing things on the white board,


it is building things in a way that the students can learn from.


I mean, for example I have seen people who have used it in English


lessons before, where they have made theatres, so they have talked


about Romeo and Juliet and got students to think a bit more


I have seen students in science lessons who have made the whole


respiratory system as well, and you go in through the diaphragm


and they have put labels all around the different parts of the body.


It is not just about that, it is about using the media


It was ages ago I was teaching to, teaching logic gates to some


of my students, and one student piped up and said "Sir,


that is just like Minecraft, why don't you show us that?"


I said "Yeah, sure it is" and I went away and started playing


with Minecraft and I saw that there is a connection


If you listen to them, and you can find that thing that


engages them, it makes the lessons golden, because the kids want to be


But it is not only about getting the kids to engage in lessons.


Giving children a safe environment in which to fail.


So the game gives you instant feedback, but you are not punished


Ian Livingstone has been a government education adviser,


and he is in the process of setting up two new schools which put


technology, education at their heart.


His gaming pedigree is almost legendary.


He co-created the Fighting Fantasy interactive adventure game books,


and he is a great advocate of the educational value


Like, for example, roller-coaster Tycoon.


Games promote critical thinking, problem solving, conputational


thinking, and I would argue computer science is the new Latin,


because it underpins the digital world, and where Latin underpinned


Now I don't suggest for one second that children should be playing


games all day in class, but they can take principles


of games-based learning and apply them for context.


You want the red stone block in the middle.


Minecraft is a great example of a game that is really popular


that has been adapted for education, but there are other games that


Why not, for example, use the out and about gotta catch


'em all Pokemon Go phenomenon, to engage students with the ideas


of mapping, geometry and data gathering?


Could you see that been adapted for educational purposes?


I mean, there is all the data in there that you could totally use


for data analysis in your maths lesson, how many steps have you been


You can start using it into PE lessons to encourage those students


So it's a case of keeping your ears open and listening to what games


are out there and just being creative with it.


Do you think this says that kids should play more games


Particularly in computer science it works for us,


because we can teach students about the computer


But at the end of the day I believe in quality time,


with teachers, with family, with friends as well,


so that you are not too immersed in technology and you are aware


So I think there needs to be a balance.


Class is dismissed, school is out for today,


and it is time for these guys to get a screen break.


Not for us though, we are off to Berlin, where Europe's biggest


We will have in-depth coverage on next week's Click,


but for now Jane Copestake's had an early look inside.


We are in LG's signature garden gallery, and this year the company


has commissioned an artist to realise some of the products that


This is a washing machine, believe it or not!


The lights that are flashing on the ceiling above me represent


This high level of design could be masking the fact we are seeing a lot


of similar products to last year's show, including a whole host


But this year, the world's first curved laptop


It has to be the world's largest laptop ever!


The screen is designed to match the natural curve of the human eye,


And Acer has released the world's thinnest laptop.


This is the Swift and it is less than one centimetre thick


Mobiles continue to have incremental improvement.


Sony's latest Xperia XZ has added two more sensors to the camera,


creating triple image sensing technology to help with blurry


The company also announced a top of the range high res audio system,


with headphones priced at ?1,700, and a gold Walkman, setting


It is not targeted at the every day consumer.


Our engineers really went back to the drawing board to say,


you know, if cost were not an issue, you know, what kind of ultra premium


Walkman, head phones and amplifier could we come up with?


It is a little pricey, but I think the real audiophiles


will appreciate the sound quality we have packed into it.


Wearables are every where you look at the show, including


This feels very satisfying to wear and can be exchanged for a sportier


Samsung have announced the Gear S3 I am wearing here.


It is a lot bigger than last year's Gear S2, which is a bit of a shame,


but it is a lot lighter than I expected.


We will have much more from IFA next week, including the latest HDR TVs


Welcome to the week in Tech. Apple has allegedly been paying a small


fraction of the taxes it should have in Ireland. It was also the week


that rules concerning the BBC iPlayer changed. You now need a TV


licence to watch live or catch up on the service. And the UK got very


excited about a button, as it finally went on sale here. The


device allows you to order product at the touch of a button without


actually leaving the house. And finally, a few weeks ago on Click we


showed you the world's first music video produced by Artificial


Intelligence. Now it seems that promo makers may need to fear for


their jobs as the world's first cognitive movie trailer is unveiled.


It exceeds our wildest expectations. Promoting the film Morgan, it was


made more less through AI. IBM's Watson analysed 100 trailers and


then watch the movie, picking the ten best moments which were then put


together by an actual human to create the final result.


At what rate in centimetres per second is the radius


Believe it or not, this is still my recurring anxiety dream.


Yes, it has been a long time since I've had to do any calculus.


And back in the day if I had been stuck on a question like this,


I would have had to have waited until the next day to get some help


But now I have an app called Yup, which is on-demand tutoring.


The idea is I take a picture of the question, through the app,


and then tell it I need a maths tutor.


And I am promised some help through the phone,


As he reads my problem he starts to guide me towards an answer.


Sending me suggestions as to how I can go about solving the equation.


"You've still missed something here on the part of the area


He sent me a picture of a calculation he has just written


Yup is based in San Francisco, but the tutors after being setted


To date, it is being used by 500,000 students in 182 countries,


and Yup has ambitions to spread across the world,


offering lessons in several languages.


To use the service, students can either subscribe to unlimited


tutoring minutes for $80 a month or buy a limited


Mr Reyes has been doing pretty well in guiding me through calculus hell,


but it has left me wondering how a service like this can make sure


First we take the students' rating, very similar to Uber.


We look at how well the student believes the session went.


That only looks at one thing, that looks at student satisfaction,


which is important, but we also care about learning.


So what we do is we have a completely different set


of tutors, we consider tutor managers, they are more experienced


tutors with more years, you know, with more credentials,


who review all our sessions and give the tutors ratings on how well


As my session progresses, I am genuinely starting


to remember my calculus, but I am also finding it hard


to talk maths, equations and symbols in a text message.


But Yup's founder said he has a good reason for choosing text.


Students are comfortable chatting with their friends.


I even joke and say I would rather chat with my mum and my girlfriend


over a text, than speak to her over the phone.


So, that is something that is very true about our student base,


Although I would really prefer a video or an audio call,


the text conversation is gradually getting me to that answer.


OK, first of all, Mr Reyes did not give me the answer,


he helped me to get there, so that is proper tutoring,


Even at the end, he asked me to go through the steps


that we went through, to kind of remind myself


and show him that I have learned something from the conversation,


It's all a bit awkward over text, but maybe


We shouldn't dismiss this scene as just child's play.


Children develop their language skills, emotions and creativity


through play, and naturally, as technology impacts our lives


in so many ways, it has affected the toys kids play with too.


Initially, there was a trend towards kids' versions of grown up


tech, like this tablet, which is full of kids apps and has


But now we are starting to see toy manufacturers move towards more


traditional looking toys, but adding a bit of tech to the mix,


which is possibly to appease to parents who don't


want their children having too much passive screen time.


I have come across a few games that mesh


These wooden smart letters look and feel like their low-tech


predecessors, but download the app and a child can learn


the sounds of the alphabet while still holding an actual toy.


Some companies have taken this concept further,


tapping into the trend in teaching kids to code early.


The Osmos kit connects to an iPad, combining physical keys


The pattern the kids create with the tiles translates


into commands that move the bear across the screen.


It is aimed at kids at three years and above, and it combines wooden


toys and a play mat with basic coding.


Now the kids don't need to be able to read or write yet,


as you select the commands by just choosing different colour pieces,


and then, at the touch of a button, the robot moves.


Six-year-old Ethan joined me for a bit of a play.


I want to go to the Golden Gate Bridge.


Soon we were trying to figure out how to get to our target.


He didn't even realise he was learning the basics


of coding, including creating functions, which means Cubetto moves


several squares at a time with a single press


But while I saw him engaging with the kit, I wasn't sure how much


actual coding was taking place, so I took the toys to a primary


The Cubetto and the Osmo went down a treat.


Kids were soon working together to solve problems and were clearly


I also had a new edition to my selection, the Sphero SPRK.


The kids instructed to flip, roll, spin or change colour,


building up to more complex instructions


I love this idea that they are playing and learning,


so it is both of those things happening.


All of the core elements of what they were doing is the same


things that we teach within Code Club, which is very much


screen-based interaction, so the ideas of algorithms


or recipes for instructions how to get something to do something,


So while they were playing, the core concepts are there,


Coding is one trend, but another is to keep children moving.


Mover is a prototype wearable that reacts to movement.


Today's challenge, to be active enough to make the colours


Many of these devices provided advanced challenges as you progress,


which could help maintain this level of enthusiasm even once


Face to face, that is where we are going.


And finally for this week, I am joining some more academics,


this time at the University of Sussex for a rather odd


Now I am no expert, but I would call this a bit strange.


Believe it or not, there is a good reason, a good sciency reason,


why these musical marshmallows are spraying polystyrene


Look very closely at their hands, and you will see that that


particular polystyrene ball is in fact levitating.


Weird stuff that glows in the dark, even better.


Someone is going to have to do a lot of vacuuming though, I think.


This is what was hidden inside the hands


The beads are being held in midair using ultrasound.


Each of those black circles is an ultrasound speaker.


As we have seen before, they can actually move


light objects, and here, the ultrasound waves they produce


Well, all of the prototypes in this room are part


of the GHOST programme, that is Generic Highly Organic


It is investigating how we might replace our flat screens


with displays that are a lot more touchy-feely.


Take this stretchy screen, for example, that could one day let


you feel the things you're looking at, like this earthquake image


Then there is this interface, based just around clay.


And these bendy cubes, that play music.


These 3-D displays from a host of international universities


Now the story of 3-D displays isn't just about feeling certain things


in certain positions, there is information that can be


gleaned from how things transition from one position to the other.


Imagine a calligrapher's swoosh as they write a letter.


That is what this demonstration is for.


It is copying my movements as I move between one state and another.


And movement is a big part of this research.


This project wants to redefine how we think about pixels.


What if our displays could also become realistic, tactile,


useable buttons and sliders that you could push,


This whole idea of 3-D display is really new,


so a lot of the prototypes around here have meant that before


they can test their ideas, the researchers had to build stuff


with loads of wires and loads of mechanics in them.


This is an idea that makes prototyping a lot easier.


These 3-D pixels are light-sensitive.


As you move them towards white they get higher and as you move them


So that means you can test out your idea on something as simple


as a tablet screen without having to build a huge machine first,


only to find out your idea wasn't very good in the first place.


The research here is really new, but it may one day redefine


It has already given me some new ideas for my dress sense!


And that is it for our look at tech in education.


If you are going back to school or college this week,


best of luck, have a great time - it never did me any harm after all.


Follow us on Twitter throughout the week, why don't you, @BBCClick.


Thanks for watching and we will see you soon.


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