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Simple widget toolkit - workshop


Bid team: Ben Dalton (Innovation North), Paul Emery (Innovation North), Ben Halsall (Faculty of Arts and Society) {b.dalton, j.p.emery & b.halsall @leedsmet.ac.uk}


Amount: £ 3,310


TQEF funding to facilitate a staff workshop and three summer student projects


We would like to run a workshop for staff on the subject of 'Physical Computing'. The use of simple electronics to create input (sensors) and output (actuators) between a computer and the physical world has become a standard building block across disciplines ranging from Usability studies to Fine Art installation. There are a number of international, open-source projects to create kits that allow non-experts to quickly harness a toolkit of widgets (motors, lights, buttons, microphones, motion sensors, etc.). We will run a hands-on session aimed at a diverse staff group over a couple of days that practically demonstrates how these toolkits can be used, followed by a discussion on the role these resources can play in teaching.


The aim of the workshop is to provide an introduction to the potential of these physical computing tools for staff who are new to the subject and a focus for expertise and dialogue for those staff who are already using these techniques in their teaching or practice.


Action plan


May – choose and order kits, recruit current Leeds Met students for short summer project

July – Ben, Ben & Paul create workshop resource pack based on student experiences

Staff Dev Festival – run the 'Simple widget toolkit – workshop'

Sept – feedback experiences in incubator journal





Future directions


Having used these workshops to foster dialogue and test out teaching approaches with these kits, our longer-term goal is to establish a cross-faculty elective module on this subject for postgraduate (and perhaps advanced undergraduate) students. The demand for such a module is evident in the range of physical computing techniques already being used in student work both across the Creative Technology masters in Innovation North and the MA Art & Design courses in the Faculty of Arts and Society.


This bid addresses the TQEF Action Plan: 1i Support for research informed teaching projects & 1j Support for the writing and development of teaching materials that ensure the curriculum is informed and enhanced by research and scholarship


Good practice


In preparing a resource pack for this workshop, we intend to synthesise best practice from educational leaders in this subject area and our own work as contemporary creative media practitioners. We will also recruit three students to work for two weeks during their summer holidays with the kits – documenting their experiences (last summer, a similar Nuffield Science Bursary funded project resulted in the summer student producing a short film to document his experiments with the BBC Big Screen).


Resources and inspiration:



Some examples of our own work:




Total: £ 3,310


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