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Bounce some ideas around with Pinball!

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Claire O'Gallagher Claire O'Gallagher | 09:57 UK time, Tuesday, 8 September 2009

We're very excited here at BBC Scotland Learning, as one of our long-term projects is has just gone LIVE! Pinball is a unique set of tools which are all about spontaneous creativity - getting initial ideas noted and then developing the ones you like. Given that creativity in education is a real hallmark of Curriculum for Excellence, we think that Pinball is going to be one of those tools that you return to again and again.


Each of the tools forms part of the creative process. The most obvious entry point for anyone having an ideas session, or an active class with pupils shouting out suggestions, is DotDash. The concept behind this is to see your ideas immediately, so as you type each one in and hit 'return' another lovely little bubble pops up. At the end you can print off your ideas (to me it looks like a tree!) or send them to one of the other tools... and this is where things get really interesting!

A good example is Drop Zone, which puts your ideas from DotDash (or that you type or paste straight in) on a Generation Game-style conveyor belt, and allows you to separate them into groups, whether into 'bin it', 'keep it' and 'think about it', or Group A, B, and C - whatever fits your project. Wild Reels similarly allows different groups or sets of ideas to be put together - but generates random juxtapositions that really get the creative juices going. In the user testing process, teachers liked using this tool for everything from generating creative writing ideas to variable equations... there were more suggestions that we could ever have imagined. Snapshot is our image tool, for those very visual ideas. All of the tools allow pictures to be included as well as text, but here you can mess around with images to create something new. If my explanations aren't quite clear enough, there's a handy help page showing you all the tools in turn.

The beauty of the tools is that they are flexible enough to be used in classes, workplaces, at home - wherever people are being creative! The fact that the tools are so simple and easy to use will demystify the creative process, which can often seem a bit woolly and abstract. Do give them a try and bounce some ideas around. Let us know how you're using them, and the weird and wonderful ideas you come up with. We'll certainly be using them on our next development day (as much as we loved our post it notes!) and we think our ideas will be all the better for it.



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