Virtual teaching and its good practices
This article reviews the workshop prepared by PAL robotics, covering the topics related to student engagement in programming and robotics classes online during the pandemic. Speakers in this workshop shared their experiences in virtual teaching, exploring the good practices they employed in order to continue teaching remotely.
Madhumalti Sharma, the founder and president of Workshop4me and Luxembourg’s ambassador for EU Code Week presented her initiatives of robotics from home since the regularly planned workshops could not happen in person. The EU code week was designed to raise the awareness of coding and improve digital literacy skills from a young age in a fun and entertaining way. During the event, participants had the chance to try programming hands-on through learning fundamental principles of programming, understanding the logical computer through patterns and learning computer languages to name a few. In addition, participants also had the chance to play with physical robots and visualise the result of their coding hands-on.
Due to the pandemic restrictions, the code week events were moved online creating new challenges for both the organisers and the participants. The organisers were not able to share robots allowing kids to have a feel of the hardware as they normally would during the event. Despite this, organisers took this opportunity to shift the workshop focus towards software processes in robotics. Students were invited to use interactive software building tools such as Scratch and Scratch junior to practice their programming skills and were encouraged to create apps helping to control robots remotely.
Entertaining children online comes with its own challenges so the organisers share their best practice tips to ensure a smooth and pleasant experience for both the participants and the teachers.
The key to having a productive workshop with a young audience is choosing the right platform and sticking to uniformity and a sense of stability across students. Second, the organisers recommend always use cameras when communicating with children so that the students feel a constant connection to the teachers and each other. In addition, students should also be encouraged to participate in sharing their projects on the screen and discussing with each other. One of the best advantages of online presentations was that the organisers were able to fully record the session content and share them with participants for future reference, something that could not be done as efficiently during in-person events. Furthermore, the online environment allowed the organisers to dig deeper into the practical aspects of robotics, showcasing videos of real-life examples and the impact robotics has on our everyday lives.
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