Functionmachine tn
Function Machine, an old HC stack of mine
( a newer flash version)

They say that things in education go round in circles. I came late to teaching and later to ict. I got my first mac, a Performa 630, in 1995. Over the next few years I became a HyperCard fanatic spending many an hour creating stacks for use in the classroom. Many of these were drill and practise application, for practising tables, telling the time, cloze procedures etc.

After a while I became more interested in children creating with computers, podcasting, blogging, animation and digital video, I have played with them all. When I started blogging it seemed that most of my reading was pointing me away from drill applications towards creative projects.

Drill and practise applications became associated in my mind with worksheets, I used them but do not talk about them in the polite company.

I noticed some drill and practise popping its head above the parapet with the various games based learning especially the brain training type of application, but have not managed to get involved with this yet. This session I’ve been happy with which provides a nice variety of colourful and attractive games for children linked to the 5-14 curriculum with reasonable record keeping. At first I was reluctant to use Education city, but once I learned how to target pupils with particular tasks I’ve used it every day with the children support in maths.

Lately I’ve seen a bit of twittering and blogging about tutpup which seems to be a new twist on an old song:


Tutpup consists of some pretty straightforward drill and practise maths and spelling exercises so far, although they seem to be interested in increasing the range of games.
What makes tutpup different is the fact that you play the games against other members of the community live. While playing they can see the progress of their opponent who is identified by a user name and a flag for their country, in my class this generated a lot of excitement. From a safety point of view tutpup is great, the help for parents and privacy policy are clear. Each child is identified by a colour-animal-number user name only, the site does not collect data from the children, teachers and parents need an email address and to give permission to the children. The setup for a class is slick and simple, teachers set a class code which pupils use to join a class. There is even some simple recording of scores.

I do not know who is behind tutpup, but Ewan has been advising the team on its development, given his knowledge of the educational use of social media It will be interesting to watch the site move on from beta. Tutpup seem to have the usual Web 2 speed of response to feedback, I’d an email within minutes of sending feedback asking for times to be added to the recording of pupil scores to allow me to see who is using tutpup at home.

I do not suppose I’ll use tutpup much before the end of term, sports and activity days are filling up the calendar but I look forward to using it next session and seeing if it can give some legs to good old drill and practise.

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