Educational robotics: instructional technology to unify diversity of computing topics into a single cohesive unit

Andrew Chiou

Abstract


In computing studies at tertiary level, students are often taught different computing subjects as individual and distinct units. Often than not, these subjects are taught without any relationship to each other. This paper introduces a curriculum that shows how educational robotics, employing construction kits such as Lego Mindstorms (Lego, 2002) and Fischertechnik (2002), can be used as instructional technology to unify diverse computing and technical topics into a single comprehensive and cohesive unit. The advantages of this approach are many. In practical terms, students are directly involved in the design and development of hardware and software devices using the knowledge they have acquired as prerequisite. The very essence of computing using robotics appeals to a large student audience and teachers alike. In addition, by playing a reversed role, educational robotics can be employed as a platform for problem-based learning. Here, the flexibility of an educational robotics curriculum becomes evident – not only does it serve as a unifying factor for computing and technical topics, but the course itself serves as an instructional medium for the student’s incomplete prerequisites.

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