Case Study: iClone in Education
The problem with working in IT in the education system is that software frequently comes along but ends up being an expensive gimmick and schools along with colleges are left with software no one knows how to use. Apart from teachers not being able to use this software the hype for it fades away and educationalists move onto to some other “Fad of the day” Little did I know in the early days of looking at iClone in my role as an ICT Development Teacher how this software would become a major asset in the way the curriculum would change in the UK. Since first looking at iClone with some skepticism I must add, the Dcsf has announced that there is to be major changes in the education system. Key Stage 3 is to be directed to the Creative Curriculum and the 14-19 curriculum has diplomas coming on stream. In 2008 there are five diplomas on offer and this will eventually rise to fifteen. Newcastle upon Tyne where I teach has been successful in getting through the gateway to start the first five diplomas in 2008.
Out of the five diplomas now on offer one in particular caught my eye, the Principal Learning for the Creative and Media line of learning (Edexcel) This has Units where gaming and 3D animation has to taught. Straight away I thought this would give the majority of classroom teachers a major headache thinking how they would be able to deliver this Unit. The solution to me was simple. iClone ticked all the boxes and what’s more it was software that is evolving and becoming more powerful but still easy for the user to produce a professional looking animation and what really struck home was that pupils would be able to use it too!!
I set about identifying a group of pupils to “Road Test” this software. Could pupils use this software? I asked myself and more importantly would they like using it. West Gate Community College is a large mixed comprehensive college for pupils aged 11 to 19.The College serves the west end of Newcastle upon Tyne, which is an area of socio-economic deprivation and has been the focus of a series of government renewal strategies. It is the host site of the City Learning Centre where I work so I thought this would be a good place to start.
More than half of the pupils are eligible for free
school meals and over half of the pupils arrive identified as having
specific learning difficulties and/or disabilities. These statistics
are way above the national averages. Approximately 76% of the pupils
are from white British backgrounds. There is a wide diversity of
minority ethnic groups within the college and 322 pupils for whom
English is an additional language. Some 34 different languages are
spoken. The attainment of pupils when they enter the college is
exceptionally low. Could iClone overcome this was another question
I began to ask myself.
It was early in the school year when I observed a member of staff
from the local school teaching the Saxon Hordes. She was using web
research and simple cut and paste techniques on word processing.
The subject was history and the unit was the Romans. I could see
the pupils were disengaged. These were definitely disaffected pupils.
This was my opportunity to show the teacher iClone. After demonstrating
the software packages and after picking up the teacher’s jaw off
the floor!! We sat down to a planning meeting to see how this wonderful
software would stimulate the pupils in the classroom. I knew it
would get pupils interested in a subject they were really totally
opposed to doing much work.
As a teacher I feel effective lessons are those where enthusiastic
teachers, with good subject knowledge, fully engage the interest
of pupils with well chosen varieties of activities and a strong
It was obvious that iClone would fulfil these requirements. Here,
new knowledge and understanding would be gained quickly and the
pupils response to a subject they did not want to study would come
alive. In some lessons it would be up to the teacher to dominate
proceedings, iClone would eliminate this I was sure. I was also
sure that pupils would have barely enough time to consolidate that
they were learning as they were using iClone. I know from many years
in teaching that the pace of learning declines because teachers
do not expect enough from their pupils in the time available. With
iClone the students decide the amount of work that will be produced
and that I guessed would be immense. I was proven right!!! IClone
was a smash hit. What I did not expect was that the pupils engaged
with it so much they wanted to come back after school to use it.
The teachers were amazed with the impact it had on pupils.
The next week the class returned to use ICT software to write scripts and storyboards. It was here scenes and characters were discussed with the pupils and I then set about producing their requirements with help from www.coolclones.com. After seeing their own faces on Characters and themselves as Roman Legionnaires they were knocked out. My favourite quote was “ my Mother and Father won’t believe this movie when I take it home” Well I have quoted the pupil but kids being kids it came out more in a local accent with a few excited words mixed in. This was coming from a child who 3 weeks prior was fighting on all fronts to oppose History and more importantly making his teacher’s job difficult. The outputs in the form of jpegs and video were made and now the teacher uses them as teaching resources with other classes as well as to hold out that golden carrot of using iClone.
Now as part of my role as a development teacher I am about to demonstrate iClone to Neighbouring Education Authorities as well as give advice to authorities from around the UK. Areas of the curriculum where I have developed IClone are in WW1, the trenches of the Somme, The Wild West, Romeo and Juliet, The Egyptians, The Greeks and many more. With the new Clone Cloth I am engaging Textile teachers to use iClone so students can see their designs on models walking up and down the catwalk.
My intentions for the future are to use iClone in
Digital Art courses. When looking to iClone it really is up to the
teacher to use their imagination as to which part of the curriculum
iClone could be used. This amazing software lends itself to any
area. Thanks so much Reallusion!!!
ICT Development Teacher
Newcastle City Learning Centre