Sept 2022 – July 2023

The academic year September 2022 to July 2023 has been transformative for Flickernet as an enterprise, and for me as an individual. Thanks to the support of many wonderful people, including my colleagues at LPA; Keith at Digital Writes and the Digit<all> team as well as the STEM network, Odyssey Hub; super Swindon schools; and the SWLEP, there has come about a great opportunity for Flickernet which I am keen to share with you here.

The first step was to focus on Physical Computing. Schools such as St Marys, Bridlewood, GWA and the School of Solutions were keen to learn more about this extra fun corner of the curriculum

Then came Literature Alive which has been a fascinating endeavour. Keith and I are enjoying every moment of it. Reading and gaming have come together in a project that involves coding, play-your-own-adventuring and (gothic) creative writing. For those who have tended to avoid reading, here is a reminder that reading is both worthwhile and fun.

When the LPA Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC) Centre manager asked for my help in filming pupils so that they could have their voices heard – inspired by the excellent BBC series Inside Our Autistic Minds – it was clear that Physical Computing could provide the ideal means of helping pupils to relax, unmask and express themselves.

The Advanced Robotics Club (ARC) has been running for two years now. This year, having again entered the PA Consulting competition, we resolved to explore ways in which what we build can benefit others. 

From this came a Micro:Bit / MakeyMakey interface that has great potential for helping those with reduced mobility to access computers using a bespoke control device.

Having launched Flickernet Tinker in January there was already a vehicle for bringing together technologists and educators from as far afield as Dublin which could result in purposeful construction – in other words doing good with tech.

A desire to recycle tech underpins the equipment that is chosen – with an aim to reduce waste and save costs for teachers. Seeing old tech brought to life, for example in our work with the fascinating Museum of Computing, points to sustainability.

Space To Learn, which draws data from the woods in Northern Ireland serves to raise awareness of environmental degradation through biodiversity sensing and habitat monitoring. 

Recent discussions with Phoenix Enterprises and Autistic Support Kilkeel (ASK) have reaffirmed what I was beginning to realise: the potential to make a positive change through technology is so considerable that it needs to be focused on.

Tech To Help (TTH) therefore is the crystallisation of these converging themes. It expresses a role for Flickernet which goes beyond education for the sake of it, into a study in pursuit of outcomes.

Project based learning provides an insuperable means to teach, learn and help others – all at the same time.

TTH means that Flickernet will focus on project based learning: the design, build and evaluation of physical computing devices that serve a worthwhile purpose in helping others.

Thank you for taking the time to read through this. Please feel free to contact me if there is a way that I can help you, or if you would like to become involved.                                                                                                                               – Phillip