Over 10 years ago before I was interested in Web 2.0 technologies into the classroom, before we had the internet in our classrooms, when our school had 3 apple macs and a few bbcs, I was introduced to computers by my HT making me take one home for the summer. I found HyperCard and was hooked. I set about happily making toys for the children and tools for myself.

At some point ( ’96 or ’97) it was suggested that I could make some money selling these tools and toys and I set about sending A4 catalogues round all the primary schools in Scotland. If you were in a primary then you may have seen one of these ugly sheets (’98 example) I also had a website.

I never made my fortune, or even much more than my hosting costs, the site grew to be more of a SuperCard resource site, the range of software was reduced, the quality improved (I hope) and I added some freeware. Interestingly the only title that paid for the hosting was a worksheet maker (I can’t imagine why anyone would want such a thing now).

My favourite Rommy Robot never really was as popular as I expected. I have kept developing Rommy as I occasionally get an email asking me for an update. Today he reached version 3.0 beta 7 and became free.Here is my blurb:Rommy Robot is a child friendly screen programmable robot.

Rommy Robot is useful for teaching Shape, Position and Movement in primary mathematics and is a way of introducing young children to control technology.

This Beta will not time out, is universal and is no longer shareware, rommy is now free (donations accepted), no registration required. My idea for Rommy was originally as a replacement for our Rommar Robots which always had flat batteries when I went for them. I had not even heard of logo at the time! The application grew ( a bit as it is pretty simple) but the idea was it was like logo but slower. Slower so that children can see what was going on. The main game is a simple grid map where children can create mazes and run the robot through them. There is a simple interface for building commands without typing.

I’ve since made a flash version of the simplest game: Rommy Robot which some folk find useful or at least you can see what I am talking about.

I’ve now come to terms with not making my fortune, or even having the time to develop software and my interests are more to do with children publishing and creating. I’ve not even used rommy in my own class this session (I am not teaching maths). But I hope I have learned something form the process. In looking back at my old catalogue I noticed the blurb:

Software for Primary Education.

Designed, Built and Tested by Primary Teachers and Children.

Which I think is a pretty good premiss for using ict in schools and unfortunately teachers and children are the last folk to get there hands on educational ict tools.

What has be interesting in the growth of Web2 in schools (blogging,podcasting, wikis etc) is that is has come from the bottom up started in real classrooms around the country before any encouragement and direction from above. The community of practice that has developed is largely a grassroots movement. I wonder how the bloggers would have felt if they had been instructed by Heads, authorities or nationally to start blogging?

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