Robotics and Programming Integration as Cognitive-Learning Tools

Robotics and Programming Integration as Cognitive-Learning Tools

Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2255-3.ch594
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Robotics and programming integration as cognitive-learning tools, in selected teaching cases exploits its full potential; therefore, it upgrades and enhances the teaching and learning process and promotes school transformation. Employing a case study approach, the current study examines how robotics and computer programming can be integrated within the elementary teaching practice (2nd to 6th grade) in order to achieve learning objectives across disciplines beyond STEM (8 teachers and 169 students participated at the study). Results are discussed taking into account class size, robotics package used, teacher age, gender, experience and teacher digital literacy/ comfort level with technology. The innovative educational robotics curriculum developed by the Robotics Academy provides the theoretical and educational framework to achieve the above.
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The technological improvements within the robotics field and its expansion to various fields such as medicine, industry and education, calls for robotics integration within the educational practice as learning tools. Alimisis (2012) supports that robotics draw the attention and interest of academicians, researchers and teachers in all educational levels as well as other stakeholders (policy makers and society leaders). Educational systems are responsible in preparing students (future citizens) for this ever-changing Hi-Tech, globalized, interconnected world. Numerous 21st century skills are reported in the literature as important to be developed by future citizens as the means to address the needs and demands of the society. Digital literacy is one of them and robotics and programing are becoming important elements within the educational settings. The students need to be provided with the opportunities to experience tinkering, fabrication, design and create technological artifact & interactive objects, construct their own meaningful projects, experience the scientific method of inquiry (Bers, 2008a; Bers, 2008b; Bers, Matas & Libman, 2013; Bernstein, Mutch-Jones, Cassidy, Hamner, & Cross, 2016; Eteokleous, 2016). Consequently, educators need to design learning environments enhanced by new technologies where students have the opportunity to experience them as cognitive-learning tools within their learning processes. In order for robotics to be integrated within the educational practice, teachers need to be appropriately and adequately prepared by universities (for pre-service teachers at the undergraduate level and in-service teaches at the graduate level) and professional development authorities (for in-service teachers) (Vollsted, Robinson, & Wang, 2007).

The current chapter takes into consideration numerous research studies suggesting that robotics integration for educational purposes is an effective teaching method; arguing that if robotics activities are appropriately designed and implemented have great potential to significantly improve and enhance the teaching and learning process (Bauerle, & Gallagher, 2003; Benitti, 2012; Bers, Flannery, Kazakoff, & Sullivan, 2014; Eteokleous, Demetriou, & Stylianou, 2013; Papert, 1993). Robotics in the classroom has taken a global momentum especially because of its positive contributions in the teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) (Benitti, 2012; Bers, et al, 2014; Nugent, et al., 2009; Sullivan, 2008; Williams, Ma, Prejean, Lai, & Ford, 2007). Additionally, research has shown that robotics integration in education promotes the development of various non-cognitive skills, however extremely important life skills. For example, reasoning, problem solving, tinkerning, sequencing, computational thinking, decision making, scientific investigation, collaboration, knowledge construction, critical thinking, creativity, communication (Bers et al., 2002; Benitti, 2012; Bers, 2008a; Bers, et al., 2014; Chambers & Carbonaro, 2003; Eteokleous, 2015; Eteokleous, 2016; Miglino, Lund, & Cardaci, 1999; Resnick, Berg, & Eisenberg, 2000; Sullivan, 2008; Williams, et al., 2007; Williams, Ma, & Prejean, 2010).

Key Terms in this Chapter

BeeBots: A colorful, easy-to-operate, and friendly little robot that can be used by students from the age of four to the age of ten, depending on the level of programming difficulty of each exercise.

Floor Mat: A paper or foam based mat (mainly located on the floor or high-table) which is separated in blocks of 15X15 centimeters. Each floor mat represents a specific theme/ concept and each block depicts different sub-theme/ sub-concept related to the overall theme/ concept. Each floor mat may have from 9 to 24 blocks (or even more!) Floor mats can be developed for various disciplines.

Lego WeDo Robotics Package: An educational robotics package appropriate for elementary school students (7+ years old). There are two package available: the construction and the resource set. A visual programming software is also part of the package. The construction set includes a hub (to be connected to the PC), 3 different kinds of sensors (tilt, motor and distance sensors), 3 different sizes of axles, gears, cams,158 colorful building blocks and other essential pieces to build the mini figure: the feet, hair and hut. The resource set includes additional building blocks, axles, gears and cams.

Lego Mindstorms NXT Robotics Package: An educational robotics package appropriate for secondary and higher education level students. The package contains a brick to be connected to the PC either through a wire or through Bluetooth, three motor sensors, touch sensor, ultrasonic sensor, sound sensor and light sensor. Additionally, it contains 431 building blocks, axles, gears, and cams. A visual programming software is also part of the package.

Educational Robotics: The use of robotics in the teaching and learning process (in the educational practice) as a subject matter and/or as a cognitive-learning tool to achieve disciplinary learning objectives.

Cognitive Skills: The skills developed that are related to specific disciplines. For example, for mathematics discipline, skills to be developed are: sequencing, calculation, multiplication; for physics discipline skills to be developed are: distances, angle. Newton’s law of motion.

Discipline Integration or Interdisciplinarity: It is the integration of various disciplines within the same unit, to examine one concept. The purpose is to relate/combine two or more disciplines into one exercise/ activity in achieving discipline learning objectives. AU24: Reference appears to be out of alphabetical order. Please check

Robotics Packages: There are various robotics packages that allow users/students to construct and program robots. These packages mainly contain bricks, wires, sensors and a visual programming software.

Non-Cognitive Skills: The skills developed that are not related to specific discipline however are considered to be important and necessary for students to develop in survive and succeed in the 21st century. Those are, but not limited to: problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, global citizenship, digital literacy, knowledge construction, creativity, innovation, self-directed learning.

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