Digital Technologies | 16.1.18

Programmable Toys

Today’s session involved learning about programmable toys and, in particular, Bee-Bots. We looked at the history of programmable toys, the benefits of using them in the classroom and the links to the Curriculum for Excellence.

Programmable toys being used in the education system dates back to the 1960s when the programming language Logo was created by Seymour Papert. This involves controlling the ‘turtle’ (arrow) to draw lines on the computer screen. We were able to give this a try in class today – it was really interesting to use and find similarities between this and the Bee-Bot. We also got the chance to use the Bee-Bot app on the iPads – this is a great tool to use in schools that might not have the physical Bee-Bots.

The benefits of programmable toys are seemingly endless: Janka (2008) claims that these types of toys are “a good example for developing knowledge and understanding of the contemporary world”. Janka (2008) also states that programmable toys help children to “develop the ability to describe simple journey and instruct the programmable toy in order to develop positional language and estimation.” Lydon (2008) claims that children “gained independence faster than anticipated” when using Bee-Bots. The benefits are inter-disciplinary: The National centre for Technology in Education (2012) say that floor robots such as Bee-Bots help with “development of skills such as logical sequencing, measuring, comparing lengths, space orientation, and expressing concepts in words.” Other benefits include: there is instant feedback gained by the learner; their problem solving skills are developed; it is a hands-on lesson; the pupils experience challenge and enjoyment; the learner is in control and has the platform to be creative.

I found it really interesting to think about all the different ways these toys could be used in the classroom to support a vast range of learning. When using programmable toys, it is important to keep in mind the Curriculum for Excellence Experiences and Outcomes (Es&Os). To ensure that the child is receiving the most from the lesson, a teacher should make sure the lesson is targeting at least one or two of the Es&Os, if not more. Es&Os should be the bones of a good lesson, and the success criteria should be made clear to the pupils at the start and end of the lesson.

As a class, we were challenged to come up with a lesson in groups, using Bee-Bots, with a numeracy focus. My group and I used a treasure hunt theme, incorporating the 3 times table: the idea was the the learner would start at the ‘ship’ square, and would have to complete the sum on that tile, in this case 3×1. Once the learner had gotten the answer, they would look for the card with the answer on it, in this case they would look for the card with the 3 on it. If they turn the card over, they would find instructions on where to go on the map, using the points of the compass such as north, south etc. The learner will have to answer different 3 times table sums in order to eventually reach the treasure.

The hunt included some obstacles, such as the shark which you cannot pass! This encourages the learner to use problem solving skills and also brings more enjoyment to the game.

We even made a little eye patch to immerse the Bee-Bot fully in the game!

I thoroughly enjoyed learning about these programmable toys and can’t wait to take what I have learned into a classroom soon!

I have included a small clip of the the Bee-Bot in action!


ICTopus Article (2008) Sharing Good Practice: Robots in Early Education by Alison Lydon.


[Accessed: 20th January 2018]


Janka, P. (2008) Using a Programmable Toy at Preschool Age: Why and How?


[Accessed: 20th January 2018]


NCTE (National centre for Technology in Education) (2012) NCTE Floor Robots – Focus on Literacy & Numeracy.


[Accessed: 20th January 2018]


Digital Technologies | 9.1.18

What Is Digital Technology?

Before beginning this class, I thought of digital technology to be solely computers, phones & iPads/tablets. This class has opened my eyes to the idea of digital technologies as so much more than that: programmable toys such as the BeeBots, game design, coding, movie making to name a few. I have also learned that ‘digital technology’ is a term used to describe those digital applications, services and resources that are used to find, analyse, create, communicate and use information in a digital context (Education Scotland, 2015). I have also gained an understanding of what it means to be digitally literate: to be competent in how to use digital technologies effectively and to their full potential. This is something I am keen to improve on over the course of this module. I hope to see an improvement in my digital literacy at the end of this trimester.

I have also found learning about who digital technologies affects thoroughly interesting. At first glance it seems that using digital technologies in the classroom only benefits the children, when in fact, it goes much further than that. The demand for teachers to be comfortable using and teaching with digital technologies means that prospective teachers are required to be trained adequately with the required resources etc. This therefore means that these teachers will have this skill to move forward in an ever-developing world. As Marc Prensky (2001) discusses, ‘Digital Natives’ (the children of today, who have been raised in a digital world) find it much easier to adapt to new digital ideas, whereas ‘Digital Immigrants’ (the teachers and parents who have had to learn the digital “language”) have to work harder to be digitally literate. The advance in digital technologies and their use in schools also provides a benefit for parents and carers of the pupils: many schools have a digital platform that forms a communication channel between the home and school environments. Future employers also benefit from digital technologies being such a key part of our education system today, as their future employees are being trained for jobs that will inevitably revolve around digital technologies. Inside the classroom, digital technologies can make a massive impact on specific groups of children as well: Additional Support Needs (ASN) pupils may find using digital technologies supports their learning, children with English as a second language, students who possibly need to be challenged further etc.

The Scottish Government (2016) outlined 4 main objectives that they aim to accomplish over the next few years, regarding digital technologies:

  • Develop the skills of our educators – ensuring that trainee teachers receive the proper guidance and resources in order for them to be confident in teaching the digital technologies
  • Improve access – make sure every child has access to digital technologies and that every child has equal opportunities when it comes to learning
  • Enhance curriculum and assessment delivery – ensure that the curriculum involves the right kinds of skills to make sure our children are competent in digital technologies
  • Empower leaders – from council members to the first minister: ensure our decision-makers have the backing to really make positive change

Today’s session also allowed us to spend time navigating Glow and getting used to how it works. I have had limited experience on glow but it was very beneficial to explore what Glow has to offer – as it really is an amazing resource that is at our fingertips! I found it really interesting browsing the hundreds of tiles to choose which ones I wanted on my LaunchPad. I look forward to using these tiles in the future!

Lastly, in this class we discussed what a reflective journal is and why we are about to embark on creating one. We spoke about how it is more reflective than simply a diary, and relies on thoughts, feelings and reflection. By creating a reflective journal, we will be able to log our progress on this module, and at the end, be able to see how far we have come with digital technologies.


Scottish Governement (2016) Enhancing Learning And Teaching Through The Use Of Digital Technology: A Digital Learning And Teaching Strategy For Scotland.

Prensky, Marc (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants.