Sunday, May 01, 2016

Permission to Fail at #Picademy

This weekend,  the second cadre of #PICADEMY USA participants is getting introduced to the the wonderful pedagogical practices of the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Watching the #Picademy hashtag on Twitter throughout the weekend, brought back memories of my experience in Mountain View just a few months ago at the first Picademy USA.  

When I think back about that weekend for me,  I vividly remember Carrie Anne Philbin unveiling the weekend agenda.  

Describing that this weekend we were going to FAIL

However, not long after, the talented crew brought us into a room where they quickly led us to amazing feeling that comes with SUCCESS! I see the same feeling of success emerging from this weekends #Picademy tweets.

When I described PICADEMY to others, I found myself describing how the team had shortened the distance between taking the Pi out of the box and experiencing the joy of success.

Everything was setup to make that journey as short as possible.

Monitors, keyboard, mice, and SD cards had all been strategically prepared so that you could just plug in your PI  and within minutes  experience the joy of success. I see this same exhilaration from this weekend's tweets from #Picademy.

Having equipped us with the joy of scoring some quick wins, we were prime and ready to move on to deeper learning.  I can see from today’s tweets that this new cadre is experiencing the best part of #Picademy -  the effective and sound pedagogy masterfully implemented by the Raspberry Picademy team.

But equally important in the conditions that were set up for the day  was setting the expectations that along with joy of success,  we were also going to FAIL

But we were going to fail in a safe environment -- an environment of trust -- a trust that we would be surrounded by what we needed to get back up again after the fall.   Throughout the whole experience, we were surrounded by the expertise of one of the Picademy team  or our Picademy colleagues to help us move past obstacles that came along our learning path and build on the learning from each iteration.  

I remember the feeling I had during the Picademy Camera workshop when my computer stopped responding as it should.  I could no longer keep up with the hands on part of the workshop since my PI simply was not reacting like everyone else’s Pi.  A team member was quickly there to help troubleshoot.  We replaced several different components, none of which seemed to rectify the situation.  Finally Ben brought me a new configured SD card and Voila, I was back up and running again and some great troubleshooting skills along the way.

The importance of being able to quickly recover from a Fall / FAIL  is important in gaining the confidence you need to take risk.  

Obviously the conditions that we had at Picademy (being surrounded by amazing mentors and peers)  to help us recover was not going to be part of our face to face reality when we would return home and start playing with our new Raspberry Pi on our own.

But there are a few ways that we can create ‘some’ of those conditions for ourselves.

  1. Become engaged in the Raspberry Pi community online.  

    The Raspberry Pi Forums provide an excellent resource for both new and seasoned Raspberry Pi enthusiast to get helpful advice from.  

    Following each other on Twitter also provides us with access to peers to share our successes with and mentors to reach out to when we need help.

    And as an added bonus,  as Raspberry Pi Certified Educators, we are lucky enough to be part of an additional online community that can provide us with an an additional level of peer support.
  2. Learn to create a backup copy of your Raspberry Pi SD card.

    Recently I was working on a PI project that I hoped to have ready for the 2nd Birthday Bash of our local Makerspace. As the deadline came closer, I found myself less willing to take risk with the project for fear that I would “undo”  the progress I had made thus far.  I should have just stopped and learned how to create a backup of my SD card.  But with little time to spare, I just kept moving forward on the project -- but with much more caution than I wanted to feel -- for fear that I might FAIL  (right before the big Bash) leaving me with nothing to show.   

    I have since rectified that and used these directions to familiarize myself with the process of creating a couple spare Raspberry Pi SD cards, and I now feel more confident to experiment  and also will easily be able to create a new backup SD Card during those ‘scary’ moments when I’m about to try something that’s unfamiliar or may feel ‘risky’
  3. Create easy access to a working PI setup  Find a setup where you can easily grab your Pi  and start playing anytime the spirit hits you --  similar to the classroom’s at Picademy where keyboard, mouse, and monitors were all setup to shortening the journey to success.    For me, creating this condition was to learn to SSH and Remote Desktop into my Pi from my laptop.   Since I live in a very small space (a 1983 vintage bus) and and am so mobile,  an extra monitor and keyboard were not an option.  Once I learned how to Remote into my Pi from my computer,  I found myself bringing my PI with me, and playing with it anywhere,  anytime I had time and inspiration to play.
I’ve decided to share my journey to learning to clone my SD Card as well as to access my PI from my laptop and my Chromebook in the next few blog post. But this post has gotten long enough already and I think I’ll spend the rest of the weekend keeping an eye on Twitter for what I’m sure will be an exciting day of projects created by the creative educators on their last day of Picademy.

I  suspect that the day will end similarly to our final  day at the Mountain View Picademy day  with lots of celebrations of failures,  many iterations of successes, and some very fun prototypes.  But most of us it will left us inspired and equipped to keep on making!  

 Part 1 ,  Part 2 , and  Part 3 of my blog post series from the first #Picademy USA in MountainView this past weekend - including this Video Summary.