As part of our second lesson of the digital literacy module we explored the use of programmable toys in education and the many benefits of its use. The use of programmable toys was first introduced to education in the 1960s when the programme Logo was created. The game allowed children to learn very complex programming in an entertaining and engaging way. However, since the 1960s the use of technology in the classroom has continued to rapidly increase. Beauchamp, G provides evidence to this statement ” the walls of the classroom and the home have been expanded by social media, the cloud, wikis, podcasts, video- conferencing etc”. (Beauchamp, G. 2017, p.2) Thus, with the ever-growing popularisation of technology in society and in education it is vital to myself as a student teacher to continue to educate myself on the ways I might incorporate the use of programmable toys into future lessons and the benefits that I will see when doing so.
The programmable toy we focused on throughout the lesson was Bee-Bot. The lesson begun with us reviewing the advantages and benefit of using programmable toys such as Bee-Bots in the classroom and the impact of doing so on young learners. After this we turned to the lesson task where all students were instructed to design an activity for young learners that incorporated the use of Bee-Bots with a numeracy lesson as well as following other curriculum outcomes. My group designed a treasure hunt game (see attached photos) which challenged learners to take their Bee-bot on their boat one space at a time to find the treasure while answering questions on the 3 times table, they may only progress if the answer is right as each card with an answer that instructs them where to go next.
As a learner using Bee-Bots for the first time in the task we created I found them to be fun and interactive. It presented the learner (myself and other members of my group) with the challenge of moving the Bee-Bot around while encouraging our problem-solving skills by presenting the task of finding the treasure. It also provided us as the learners with full control over our learning while instantly showing us if we were right or wrong in our direction of the Bee-Bot.
From the perception of a student teacher I feel it was be greatly beneficial to introduce programmable toys and Bee-Bots into future class lessons. After today’s lesson I feel the use of programmable toys in the classroom has multiple advantages for both educators and learners. Programmable toys encourage interactive responsive learning which heightens the learners understanding and enjoyment of the activity while allowing both learner and teacher to clearly identify instantly if the learner understands the activity. Educator Alison Lydon detailed her thoughts and findings after she introduced Bee-Bots during a lesson, she wrote that the children “gained independence faster than I anticipated. Twelve out of twenty-eight were able to use the Bee-Bot without any adult help after the initial instructions.” (Lydon, 2008, p.2). In addition, Bee-Bot as well as other programmable toys can be linked with multiple curriculum outcomes and lessons such as literacy and numeracy. The National Centre for Technology in Education found that the use of floor robots in classrooms contributed to the development of the children’s skills such as ” logical sequencing, measuring, comparing lengths, space orientation and expressing concepts in words”. (2012, p.1). Our task we created today follows the Curriculum for Excellence Technology and Numeracy outcomes:
” I can explore and experiment with digital technologies and can use what I learn to support and enhance my learning in different contexts” as it encourages the young learners to practice their math skills while also familiarising them directions such as north, south, east and west.”- TCH-101a
“I can use addition, subtraction, multiplication and division when solving problems, making best use of the mental strategies and written skills I have developed.”- MNU 1-03a
Prior to the lesson I had no knowledge of programmable toys or their significant impact on education and was not educated on the many ways Bee-Bots could be used in numeracy and literacy lessons. However, after completing the lesson, I feel I have gained the knowledge and skills to use programmable toys when appropriate to enhance my learners’ enjoyment and understanding of the content I am teaching.
Beauchamp, G (2017) Computing and ICT in the primary school : from pedagogy to practice. Second Edition. Abingdon, Oxon; New York: Routledge.
Lydon, A (2008) ICTopus Article – Sharing Good Practice: Robots in Early Education. [Online] Available: https://oponoa-programmeertalen.wikispaces.com/file/view/BeeBot_article.pdf [Accessed: 16 January 2018]
National centre for Technology in Education (2012). NCTE ICT in the Classroom: Floor robots- focus on literacy & numeracy lessons (Primary). [Online] Available: http://www.ncte.ie/media/NCTE_Floor_robots_focus_on_literacy_numeracy_primary_12-06.pdf. [Accessed: 16 January 2018]