Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Zondle in Croatia

Zondle was lucky enough to visit Croatia last week. We were invited by Lidija Kralj who has worked tirelessly to get zondle into schools across the country and to help us to develop a more robust language tool for zondle.

We began our visit in the capital, Zagreb, with a twilight session at Horvati Primary School. We were excited to have over 25 teachers keen to learn more about zondle.

Our presentation seemed to go well despite the language differences though Lidija did a brilliant job of translating where necessary. The only glitch was when we tried to use a Croat keyboard (the ‘z’ and ‘y’ are transposed which doesn’t help when you want to type ‘zondle’!)

We were most impressed with the teachers’ engagement with the technology. The teachers had learned about zondle on Twitter and were interested to learn how to embed games in their blogs and whether we could integrate with Moodle (we can).

The session ended as the spring evening was closing in, after 2 hours of showing zondle and answering questions. We then travelled north of Ludbreg to Veliki Bukovec to meet students and more teachers the following day.

Veliki Bukovec School is a small village school which opened in 1800. There are about 350 students in the school aged 7-14 (Croatian children start school at 6-7 and then move onto high school at 14). Students bring their own books to school (their parents having paid for them themselves!) and operate in two shifts because there simply aren’t enough schools in the area (Michael Gove take note).

We ran two sessions each with about 40 students in a computer suite with about 20 computers. One class had used zondle before and were keen to learn more about how to create games. The other class soon caught up and were excited to be using zondle to work on their maths and Croatian.

The students all seemed to enjoy the sessions, especially when we were able to unveil a Croatian zondle avatar for them to put into their own games.

It was brilliant to see that the students were already using zondle at home and they already had their favourite topics and games and had already customized their avatars! In common with the schools in the UK, football, pizza, and saving bunnies were all popular games!

The evening session involved another 30 teachers with a further 10 following online. We focused more on showing the teachers how to use zondle to support their own students – in particular how to set up their own schools and how to monitor progress.

At one point Doug joined us via video conference to help explain how to share topics.

The session ended after 2 hours of zondling and we returned to Ludbreg for an early meal. We then travelled back to the airport first thing the next morning.

All in all, I was very much struck by how the teachers and students had exactly the same interests and needs as teachers and students in the UK. Talking about the theory is great but once teachers and students get onto the computers, creating topics, playing topics and creating games they were hugely engaged. And while the teachers all seemed impressed with the potential of using zondle in the classroom, you can’ t beat that moment when a student sees the questions they created appear in a game! Magic!

Thanks Lidija for all your fantastic help, we hope to return to Croatia soon to see how you are getting on!

Ben Barton