Alan is our digital hero

I was so pleased earlier to hear the news that Alan O’Donohoe has been awarded the great honour of Volunteer Digital Hero for his work with the Raspberry Pi and Raspberry Jam.

Alan is a really great bloke and has been inspirational in my own journey with the Raspberry Pi. Earlier this year I was going through a difficult time, feeling that what I was doing was of little value and use. After spending a very encouraging evening with Alan, I was able to see where I was going and what I needed to do in order to move forwards! For this Alan, I will be ever grateful.


I’m not sure why Alan is running away from Clive Beale?


I found Alan’s name badge!

For a list of all the digital heroes click here


Cam Jam September 2014

We had an amazing day at the Cambridge Raspberry Jam on 6th September and the organising team really should have a big pat on the back!

The theme this time was based around all things robots in preparation for the December Pi Wars event. There were a good range of talks and hands-on workshops again designed around this theme. I was very pleased to help out at three of the workshops and it was especially good to see the Ryanteck robot being used in one of them.

Philip had a really good time and said he enjoyed the workshops and being able to see all the fun things being done with robots.

I managed to spend £50 at the PiHut again on Raspberry Pi miscellaneous bits and pieces. We were just about to leave when Philip saw the tablet controlled robots from DawnRobotics. Somehow in the next 10 minutes he had persuaded me to splash out and buy a kit - which has now been made and is being developed!

There was a film crew form CNBC filming in Cambridge and we even made it onto the segment!

The Cambridge Jam is a great day out and a good way of meeting in real life all the people I spend so much time chatting to on Twitter. There is a real sense of community at CamJam and a very warm welcome is given to everyone old and young. It is testament to the team that I had Philip out of bed at 6am on a Saturday to make the drive down. Can’t wait for December!



I was recently sent a ProtoCam to review from Richard (AKA @AverageManVsPi).

This is currently a kickstarter project which is definitely well worth a look (and a second look!)

Picamera board

The ProtoCam board is a neat solution for creating Raspberry Pi projects using both the GPIO and camera. The PCB is manufactured in the UK to a very high standard and is made with nickel/gold plating.

Once soldered and assembled the board fits neatly onto the Raspberry Pi (model A / B) and the camera is securely attached via small nylon screws and nuts. The camera is connected to the Raspberry Pi by a short and firm belt which fits under the PCB next to the Raspberry Pi.

At the moment my camera is attached to my robot so I am debating if I should either order a new camera or dismantle it from my robot so I can fully test this.

Some possible uses of the board could include:

  • Adding LEDs to build a flash gun on the front of the camera
  • Adding switches to build a simple point and click camera control
  • Adding a segment display for a timer / photo counter

I think that this project has great potential so I would thoroughly recommend backing it

Back the project here

Did I also mention that this great project was selected as the Staff Pick at KickStarter?


Being a 21st Century teacher

Being a 21st Century teacher

I have been asked several times at job interviews what it means to be a 21st Century teacher or learner. Quite often this is really getting at how do you use technology effectively in teaching and learning.

There are approximately 27 million Google entries for “Being a 21st Century teacher” so clearly this is something which is very much on people’s minds!

Whilst thinking about this I came across this diagram which indicates some of the things that a 21st Century teacher (trainer) should be aware of.


After nearly 20 years of teaching I am convinced that my role is to:

  • inspire
  • engage
  • develop creativity
  • impart knowledge
  • help prepare young people for an ever changing world with different priorities from when I was a student
  • equip students for a life-long learning journey
  • model behaviours and attitudes for life beyond school
  • engage with technology in a beneficial way

There are so many “21st Century” technologies which students engage with on a daily basis and I often hear that it is the students who are teaching us the adults how to use it. In some cases this may well be true but as a 21st Century teacher I want to equip my learners to be discerning in the tools they use and in the ways that they use them.

Being a 21st C teacher is so much more than knowing what a selfie is and being competent in social media. For me, it is about knowing what new tools are available, what are the learning benefits of using these tools and how they can be used effectively in the classroom and beyond.

There is a mind-shift coming.

I recently spoke to a couple of CEOs at Cisco who were telling me how new Interns and members of staff were less likely to use the help desk services but would solve problems themselves through online collaboration. This speaks to me exactly of what it means to be a 21st Century teacher. I want to equip learners with the skills and desire to be self-motivated problem solvers, who make effective use of tools to do so.

So perhaps the image I used at the start is not too far from the truth. As a teacher I do need to know and understand the potential of using different social media platforms, of how to uncouple learning from the classroom, how to make effective use of students bringing their own devices to the classroom and how to fully embrace the same technology used at home to promote learning at school.


MyPiFi LCD Board support for Raspberry Pi

It is great how many cool things for the Raspberry Pi are coming out through Kickstarter projects.

I would like to highlight the MyPiFi LCD board support for the Raspberry Pi which offers a quick and easy way to add an LCD board to your projects.

The Project has been started by Paul Brown from the UK also know as @mypifi on Twitter. His blog can be found here.


This is a great little device which allows you to easily and quickly change LCD boards attached to all models of the Raspberry Pi. This eliminates the worry of forgetting how each wire was connected.

The pledges start at £6 where you will get an LCD support board with one extended GPIO header, LCD socket and potentiometer kit. The kit needs assembling. For another £5 you get the same kit with 16x2 LCD display with blue backlight.

I look forward to trying one out and writing a more detailed review.

Go fund it today!