Amaury Robert Dame, Christian Giang, Anthony Guinchard, Aditya Mehrotra, Francesco Mondada
Educational Robotics holds the potential to promote the development of important 21st century skills, such as creativity and problem-solving skills in addition to digital literacy. However, the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic has posed particular obstacles that had to be overcome in order to allow Educational Robotics activities to be conducted in distance learning. In the first place, the obligation to work from home limited the access to required equipment for many students. Secondly, many teachers had to face the novel challenge of creating pedagogically meaningful activities in online learning formats. Aiming to address these challenges, this work explored maker-based approaches as a way to implement Educational Robotics activities in online learning. The devised tools and activities were evaluated in two case studies performed with (i) high school students participating in a mobile robotics summer school and (ii) in-service teachers attending a professional development course on Educational Robotics. The teachers’ and students’ perception of the proposed activities was analyzed using online surveys and video interviews. The findings showed that the combination of the devised tools and activities allowed teachers and students to explore the basics of mobile robotics while helping them develop a maker mindset. The use of ubiquitous construction materials and affordable electronic components promotes accessibility of the approach. The proposed tools and activities may therefore provide an exemplary framework for more general applications of Educational Robotics in online learning that go beyond the context of emergency remote teaching.