Educational Robotics Between Coding and Engineering Education

Educational Robotics Between Coding and Engineering Education

Martin Fislake
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-6717-3.ch004
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The development and use of educational robotics offer almost unlimited chances for teaching design. In classrooms it results in numerous and continuously increasing possibilities for the promotion of competences and the differentiated and differentiating use of educational robots. Therefore, this paper reports long time experiences of the author and is intended to introduce into the history and the relevant literature of educational robotics in teaching settings, before it discusses the role of educational robots as technology artefacts, as educational technology and for technology education interconnected to coding and the engineering design process (edp). In addition, a structured overview is developed to provide orientation, discuss possible applications and offer basic assistance for teaching between coding and engineering.
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Educational Robots In The Literature

The range of available literature on education robots themselves and their use for teaching and learning purposes is sometimes quite broad, probably starting with the development of the first programming languages for children such as LOGO in the 1960s, Paperts (1980) Mindstorms and the development of the first tangible, programmable physical computing devices in the 1980s.

The growing scientific interest in robotics applications at school is reflected in a growing number of topic-specific and, in part, related to this, in an increased number of publications as Anwar et al. (2019) and Angel-Fernandez & Vincze (2018) reported. They also indicate that in comparison to other and established subject areas, it is (still) comparatively unstructured and is driven by very different sources, disciplines and questions.

Only gradually is there a consolidation with constant and regular coverage in books or anthologies such as Smart Learning with Educational Robotics (Springer), Robotics in Education (Springer), Robotics in STEM Education (Springer), Educational Robotics in the Context of the Maker Movement (Springer) or topic-specific annual conferences, workshops and congresses such as Robotics in Education (RiE) or the International Conference Educational Robotics (EDUROBOTICS).

The contributions and scientific articles on educational robots range from simple descriptions of practical teaching applications in STEM subjects as in Bergs et al. (2018) or Tuluri (2017), reports of extracurricular applications (Filipov et al., 2017), papers on elaborate empirical studies such as Catlin & Blamires (2012), Sullivan & Heffernan (2016), Jung & Won (2018) and Pedersen (2020) in systematic reviews, or the attempt to conduct impact research under laboratory-like conditions such as Khanlari (2013), up to simple descriptions of constructions and applications.

Relatively frequent are didactically naive descriptions of technological features of new technical developments such as those of Mockel et al. (2018), Schöpping et al. (2018) or Cehovin Zajc et al. (2018). By contrast, education theory papers such as those by Eguchi (2017) are rather rare in the context of curriculum developments or the definition of educational standards, while vocational preparation-oriented concepts and demands like those of Khanlari (2013), Hirsch et al. (2012) and Fabiyi et al. (2016) are more common.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Technology and Engineering Literacy: The capacity to use, understand, and evaluate technology as well as to understand technological principles and strategies needed to develop solutions and achieve goals.

Engineering: Engineering encompasses a broad range of more specialized fields or disciplines and service providers that design and realize technology objects, processes, and systems in order to meet human needs and wants.

Engineering Design Process: The engineering design process is an iterative, not linear thinking strategy. It was developed to solve technical problems systematically and uses creative as well as rationale methods. It requires numerous decisions and includes a variety of realistic constraints, such as economic factors, safety, usability, reliability, aesthetics, ethics and social impact to achieve satisfactory results. In educational applications it helps to develop a kind of engineering thinking for general use that includes the development of student’s creativity and their problem-solving ability.

Technology: Is the modification of the natural environment, through human-designed products, systems, and processes, to satisfy needs and wants.

Educational Robotics: Educational Robotics are defined by technology artefacts ranging from programable robot-like toys to professional automated systems and the way they are used in educational settings. They include robot simulations, constructional robotic kits as well as prefabricated systems. Educational Robotics play also an active role to enhance learning experience through the creation, implementation and validation of pedagogical activities, tools and technologies.

Computational Thinking: Can broadly defined as an approach to planning, problem solving, and creating in a way that enables the use of automating solutions through modelling and algorithmic thinking so that the solutions could be operationalized with a computer.

Coding: Coding stands colloquially for programming. In this paper and commonly used to describe how beginner program without using control structures, models, or algorithms.

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