Build a Robot!

robocode01Want to learn how to program your own virtual robot? Are you aged 10-17 and familiar with the basics of programming?

edinburghdojoIf yes, then sign up for Edinburgh CoderDojo’s new Robocode project. Robocode is an easy-to-understand, fun way to learn more about programming! The project starts on the 14th November and will take place at Stockbridge Library – it will last several weeks so make sure to book the first 4 week block now.

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Get Them Learning Online!

Recent research by the National Literacy Trust into technology and reading suggests that alongside books technology can play an important role for children in supporting early communication, language and literacy.

Edinburgh Libraries has got a brilliant range of online resources for children and teens to help them do just that! They are all available to use from home or the library. So get them started on –

  • OverDrive Kids & Teens – an ebook and audiobook site just for kids, filled with a fantastic array of titles and authors. Favourites include ebooks by Roald Dahl and the Harry Potter audiobooks read by Stephen Fry. As well as using a website version of OverDrive you can also use a range of easy-to-use apps.
  • GridClub – set them loose on this huge website with over 500 fun educational activities. Covering activities for children aged 5-12 years you’ll find lots of material on English, but also maths, science, history, languages, geography, health, art, music and more.
  • Spellzone – provides a full online course to improve your grammar and spelling and is suitable for ages 10 and above. Spellzone can also support pupils who are dyslexic or for whom English isn’t their first language.

If they need some support with maths as well get the best online help from –

  •  Mathletics – access the world’s most used mathematics website covering all aspects of maths with 1000 different learning activities for students aged 5 up to adults. Register your child at their Scottish school level so they are getting work at exactly the right level for them. As well as a huge variety of fun but educational maths activities, learners can also compete against others from all over the world in live maths games of speed and skills.

Let’s Get Online launch at Westerhailes Library

Libraries, clubs and community organisations across the country are supporting the campaign offering older people the opportunity to join classes, showing them how to go online and get the most from the internet.

Westerhailes 2The Scottish Government held the re-launch of their ‘Let’s Get Online’ campaign at Westerhailes Library. The campaign is being run in partnership with organisations from the public and volunteer sector under the overall Digital Scotland brand.

Scottish Govt minister Jeane Freeman was joined by TV celebrity Carol Smillie at Westerhailes Library to meet with a group of recent learners from the Libraries’ ‘Get Online’ service and they enjoyed a very positive chat about the benefits of the course they had attended and the things they are now able to do online (including email, Skype and shopping).Westerhailes 3The Libraries ‘Get Online’ courses have groups at libraries across the city where learners receive 1:1 support on their own device. Groups run for two-hourly slots each week for five weeks and training is delivered by volunteers some of whom were present at the ‘Let’s Get On’ launch.

There was general agreement that taking up new technology and being able to use the internet are more important than ever for older people to remain in touch with family, friends and the world in general, but also not to be left out of the other considerable benefits to be gained from being online.

Westerhailes 1If you are interested in getting help with computing find a course near you at the ‘Let’s Get On’ website. Or contact Kenny Sharkey regarding groups run by the Library ‘Get Online’ service – tel: 07809 320432 or email: kenneth.sharkey@edinburgh.gov.uk

How safe are you online? Find out at this free event

scammingCentral Library is hosting an event provided by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service to raise awareness of cyber / internet scamming on

Thursday 12th November 2015 at 2pm

The event may be most useful for people aged 50 and over.

Representatives of Police Scotland will be in attendance to highlight the known scams and offer advice on how to keep safe online and avoid becoming a victim.

Staff from COPFS will also explain how these cases are dealt with when reported.

Reserve a free place or for further information contact Laura Connell on laura.connell@copfs.gsi.gov.uk or 0844 561 3000.

 

Libraries: Getting Edinburgh Online

GetOnline2Edinburgh Libraries’ Kenny Sharkey is spearheading a new council initiative to widen digital participation in Edinburgh.  Get Online, as the name suggests, aims to demystify the world of the internet for people with little or no experience and help give them the skills and confidence to get online and take part in the digital world.  We dropped in to a session at Craigmillar Library to get a feel for the project.

Kenny explains that widening participation is key to the project. “It’s remarkable that studies show that 15% of people have never used the internet.  To me digital inclusion is all about helping people access the world of technology that many of us take for granted but get enormous benefit from. We’re trying to reach as many people as possible that can benefit from taking part in this.”

GetOnline3As a tutor of the popular LearnIT courses which were run across Edinburgh Libraries, Kenny had recognised the need to keep up with technology so as well as using  laptops, help is also offered in the use of Ipads, tablets and smart phones.

Sessions are delivered across a 5 week plan and each lasts for 2 hours.  Participants are divided up according to device and asked to choose options from a ‘learning menu’ in order to get the learning experience best suited to their needs.

GetOnline5The success of the sessions also relies upon a band of loyal volunteer tutors which has enabled 1-1 tuition in most cases.  During our visit, Jennifer was helping Mina get to grips with her new tablet.

Jennifer: “It’s really beneficial to people who are scared of learning in a more formal environment. It’s more personable here and people seem to respond better with 1-1 tuition.  You can take it for granted if you have grown up around this stuff. If you are new to it there’s a lot of buzz words to get your head around. ”

Mina:  “I’m starting over again. I’m 90 so I think I can be excused for forgetting things. I’m completely new to this and want to get more out of it. I’ve been using it to do a bit of historical research and to send emails to my family in Australia and Canada.”

Kenny tells us that relying on volunteers is what gives Get Online a strong sense of community. The project has also worked in partnership Castlebrae High School creating a great inter-generational feel.  Barry Ferguson, Head of IT, says: “We tried to get involved with something like this before but it hadn’t worked out.  Since Kenny started this though, things have really taken off. It’s definitely been a confidence booster for the kids involved and helps show the positive role the school can play in the community.”

GetOnline4

Castlebrae pupil Jordan was helping Jill learn what her new IPad had to offer.

Jill: My daughter lives in Australia so I wanted to be able to use Face Time and things like that just to keep in touch.  I want to be able to use it to book tickets and the I-pad doesn’t come with instructions on how to do things like that. I have had about 5 lessons and I’m definitely improving. I’ve face-timed my daughter now and we’ve emailed. It’s great.”

Jordan:  It’s great to help people in this way and as I’m close to leaving school this is great work experience for me.

GetOnline1

Kenny is pleased with the reaction to the service and the way it is helping people feel more connected in their communities and often with family in other parts of the world.

Kenny: “In  a lot of situations people are leaving after 5 sessions and confidently ordering things online and Skype-ing relatives abroad and that’s what it’s all about: ensuring people are confident enough to participate in the digital world”

Initially established in Craigmillar, sessions are now being delivered across the city in locations like Leith, BlackhallMorningside and Central Library.  Check the Get Online blog for future dates around the city or email Kenny for more details.

Minecraft at Drumbrae Library

Minecraft at DrumbraeAnyone who has visited Drumbrae Library recently may have noticed that everyone seems to see the world in 8-bit.  The phenomenon that is Minecraft has taken the library by storm.

So what it is Minecraft? Basically it is a sandbox type of game. Imagine a world made out of small square blocks similar to Lego. It can be played like a survival game where the player must collect and mine resources in order to build things and survive.

There is also a creative mode: and this is where things really get interesting.  In this mode the world of Minecraft is completely open to you and you can build whatever you like using the blocks that are available in the game.  There are enthusiasts out there who have built everything from Lord of the Rings fantasy worlds to rollercoasters.  There are even a number of 8-bit libraries out there

Recognising that it was something that a lot of young people were already talking about Matt Ferguson, Team Leader at Drumbrae Library, has been using Minecraft in innovative ways to engage with young people.

“Im interested in how we can advocate games in libraries and use them as a tool of engagement.  As it is about creating things and they were already talking about it, we were keen to tap into that.

We took it further by incorporating it into activities we were doing with Comic Life and in video production.  They would make short videos explaining what mine craft is and why they enjoy it.  In doing this they had to plan how the films would be, they’d write up questions and create a structure. In doing all this they are developing their communication and literacy skills. Maybe they become more engaged now that it’s  based around something they enjoy.”

Matt points out that the success has led to a continuing demand and the group is expanding and as more and more kids sign up.  Reece Crosby, one of the participants, has been taking part for around a year.  He tells us: “It’s pretty sociable game and you can hang out and chat with your friends in a good environment as you play the game.  We’ve been making a little movie within the game about an adventurer who goes into a temple and is confronted by zombies.  The game is very creative, we all make our own skins, play separate parts and also perform the dialogue. We’ve been learning about Minecraft and computers but it’s also been good for learning to write scripts and working together.”

Library computer users’ survey

We are planning to improve the free public computer service in libraries. Please help us to do so by completing this short survey. Thanks!