Free discussion tool: create live word clouds that respond as people vote

Free discussion tool: create live word clouds that respond as people vote

Ask: free discussion tool
Ask: free discussion tool

Get your class / audience engaged with this free quick survey maker classroom tool. This free discussion tool lets you ask a question on screen that anyone can answer by visiting a short URL or automatically created QR code. The answers that are submitted generate a dynamic word clouds or bar chart so you and your class / audience can use it as a discussion tool for debate or a quick way of gauging how much people have understood a topic.

On a Thursday lunchtime at Manor CE Academy the students who’ve been coming to Cyber Security and Digital Forensics club have been learning how to create and test web applications. The aim was to look at how you can quickly develop a web application using mashups of different APIs and external code sources before going to test the web app for security vulnerabilities and look at guarding against common exploits. This tool started as a code experiment then grew into a tool that we used a lot to promote discussion in class without always having to rely on the same students putting up their hands.

You can try out the web app here.

Anyone can create a discussion question really quickly (you don’t have to log in or create an account).

Once you’ve made a discussion question you’ve got an hour for your class / audience to respond. After that time, the survey is no longer accessible, so that people don’t post inappropriate content long after you’ve finished discussing the question in class.

If you just type in a question, you’ll get a screen where people can see their answers appear in a word cloud.

If you choose set responses (like “Fully understand”, “mostly understand”, “not sure” and “not a clue”) then instead of a word cloud you’ll see a bar chart automatically update whenever anyone chooses one of those options.

You can also set a password to allow you to moderate and remove any answers that you don’t want included in the word cloud and you can set a limit for the number of times anyone can answer each question.

The next page has some ideas for how to use this free discussion survey tool in class.

Doodle jump: microbit python game tutorial

Doodle jump: microbit python game tutorial

This tutorial will talk you through how to write, test, debug and improve the python code for a doodle jump style game on a BBC micro:bit.

Warning: this isn’t easy

This microbit python game tutorial is possibly a little too advanced for beginners so have a look at some of the other tutorials if you’re just getting started or jump straight in here if you’re feeling confident.

Doodle jump is a brilliantly simple but infuriatingly addictive game where you have to control a green alien by moving it left and right to jump up to the next platform, as the world falls away beneath it. The original game won an Apple design award and it quickly took the gaming world by storm. You can play it here (it’s likely to be blocked if you’re viewing this tutorial page in school). The challenge of this tutorial is to attempt to scale down the game so it still works on a 5×5 LED screen on the BBC micro:bit whilst still being fun to play.


Try it with code
Try the code

Below is a sample of the doodle jump game that we’ll create using this tutorial.

Press Ctrl + Enter to run the code, or click on the run button that appears when you click on the {+} button in the bottom right corner of the code editor.

Press button A to move left and button B to move right.

If you want to test the game on an actual micro:bit, plug it into your computer, run the code and click on Download HEX and save that file onto your micro:bit.

microbit python tutorial: shake ‘n’ burn fire simulator

microbit python tutorial: shake ‘n’ burn fire simulator

This microbit python tutorial talks you through how to write python code that simulates fire on your micro:bit. It burns down gradually until you shake it to stoke the fire back to life.

It’s written for beginners so you don’t need any experience writing python code. It covers:

Concepts you'll understand
Concepts you’ll understand


  • Loops: repeating code with while and for loops
  • Selection: only running certain parts of the code if a condition is met
  • Images: how images can be represented as data in memory before being displayed on a screen
  • Operators: how the multiplication operator (*) works with strings, numbers and images



Skills covered in this tutorial
Skills covered in this tutorial


  • How to change each pixel of an image on the micro:bit screen
  • How to use the accelerometer to check if the micro:bit has been shaken
  • How to choose a random number
  • How to fade and shift an image on the micro:bit screen

The next page shows a simulation of the code we’ll create in this tutorial.