Today’s lesson focused around the use of programmable toys used in education, in particular Bee-bots. From this, I gained knowledge on when programmable toys were first used in education, what the benefits of them are and I also worked as part of a group to create our own numeracy lesson using a Bee-bot. Throughout this task, we had to think about Curriculum for Excellence outcomes, this gave me good insight into what creating lessons will be like in future years of being a teacher.
I was surprised when I learned that programmable toys were first used in education in the 1960’s when Seymour Papert created Logo. Logo allows children to participate in complex programming as they can control an arrow which allows them to draw shapes, symbols etc. Ever since then, the use of programmable toys within education has expanded and children continue to get more out of technology as time goes on. This is stated by (Janka, 2008, p2) “The curriculum introduces programmable toys as a good example for developing knowledge and understanding of the contemporary world.” As well as this, programmable toys have numerous amounts of benefits. As technology such as Bee-bots allow children to see if they are correct or incorrect quickly, they can gain instant feedback. Through this, the children are always in control and learning hands on, this allowing time for them to engage and get the most out of their learning. Children are often able to pick up how to work them quickly, this is backed up by (Lydon, 2008) as she introduced twenty-eight nursery children to Bee-bots and twelve were able to use them themselves without any further help after only being told how to use them once. This shows the active engagement children have with independent learning and how much they appreciate a challenge through using programmable toys for the first time.
After working in a group using Bee-bots, I am aware how engaging and active learning with programmable toys is as I loved creating a game using them. From this, I can understand why children get so many benefits out of using them and how much of an important role they play within the curriculum. My group created a numeracy game with the Bee-bots, in which compass bearings and the three times tables were used. We made it fun by giving it a treasure hunt theme, in which there was different obstacles to get through on a boat such as sea creatures, anchors, coins etc. The start box had the question “3×1”, from this, there was a card with 3 on it which gave the direction to go in to get to the next question. Eventually, the right answers led to a key, which enabled the treasure hunt box on the last square to be opened. We even gave the Bee-bot an eyepatch to match with the theme! This learning game which could be used in future years as a lesson fits in with this Curriculum for Excellence outcome – TCH-101a ‘I can explore and experiment with digital technologies and can use what I learn to support and enhance my learning in different contexts.’ We choose this outcome as the game we created allows the opportunity for mathematical skills as a whole to be improved, through working on times table and direction skills. Therefore, if children were to ever engage with this, they would be able to take what they have learned into maths lessons and the outside world. Due to this, this curricular outcome would also fit into a lesson like this – ‘Having determined which calculations are needed, I can solve problems involving whole numbers using a range of methods, sharing my approaches and solutions with others.’ – MNU 2-03a.
Overall, this class enabled me to recognise the importance of programmable toys and although they were first introduced in the 1960’s within education, as time goes on they are getting more engaging and allow children to be creative and learn hands on. I thoroughly enjoyed creating my own learning game with my group and it has made me even more excited to become a teacher and plan lessons to see how much children learn and get satisfaction out of using technology.
ICTopus Article (2008) Sharing Good Practice: Robots in Early Education by Alison Lydon. [Online] Available: https://oponoa-programmeertalen.wikispaces.com/file/view/BeeBot article.pdf [Accessed: 17 January 2018]
Janka, P. (2008) Using a Programmable Toy at Preschool Age: Why and How? [Online] Available: http://www.terecop.eu/downloads/simbar2008/pekarova.pdf [Accessed: 17 January 2018]