What Is Educational Robotics?
Educational robotics is a learning approach, a discipline primarily developed to introduce students to robotics at an early age. It allows students to build interest in robotics and computational thinking while helping them acquire other skills, including empathy, critical thinking, faster retention, and a creative approach.
The MarketsandMarkets report predicts that the educational robotics market will grow to $2.6 billion. That said, educational robotics is an expanding field, and educational institutions all over the words are slowly incorporating robots in classrooms.
Still, Japan is the pioneer in educational robotics. They introduced the first robot teacher in 2009, and although this approach to education is yet to encounter mass adoption, many countries followed.
Photo illustration: Freepik
Technology is an integral part of our lives, and regardless on where you stand on that topic, the reality is that children are exposed to it. Implementing educational robotics in classrooms allows children to understand the world around them from an early age. It teaches them how to use technology to their advantage and helps them understand how it works.
It’s necessary to educate children and help them keep up with the latest breakthroughs in technology. After all, they will be the ones using pioneering technologies that are only just now penetrating the market. Luckily, classroom robots can do just that – they ensure young students aren’t estranged from technology while providing support on their journey.
How Does Educational Robotics Help Students Learn?
For starters, classroom robots aren’t for advanced or older students only. Children can be exposed to robots as early as kindergarten, but they are also a part of many curriculums for high schoolers.
For example, even educational robotics for kindergarteners teaches youngsters how to build and program robots. On the other hand, robots can be used as mere assistants whose primary purpose is to interact with the students and help them overcome obstacles unrelated to programming and robotics.
Still, students are exposed to more intricate machines as they get older. In these stages, students are already capable of interacting with robots and ready to develop their programming skills without the need for the same level of assistance from robots.
In other words, classroom robots for younger children could be considered an advanced and interactive starting point for their education – building blocks for what’s yet to come.
At an early age, robots help students learn through play. Through regular interaction, children are challenged to develop computational thinking skills to help them build a positive and logical approach to solving problems later in life.
Photo illustration: Freepik
Besides that, classroom robots play a critical role in helping students develop into healthy adults. Educational robotics encourages bursts of creativity, teamwork, and learning from one’s own mistakes. Furthermore, robots could help children develop empathy, curiosity, motivation for learning, and healthy self-esteem.
That said, here’s why exposing your child to educational robotics from an early age could benefit the child’s future:
- Teamwork: Implementing educational robotics in the classroom teaches students the importance of teamwork. When working in groups, children are more likely to improve socialization skills and discover ways to collaborate with peers.
- Creativity: Classroom robots are programmable, allowing students to develop their skills by writing new code and assigning new functions to their robot friends. This approach to education encourages creativity, as students have the opportunity to think of new ways to improve the program they were assigned to.
- Self-assessment: Good grades and praise from teachers can be rewarding. However, the results students can see in real time when working with classroom robots could have a more significant impact on a student’s confidence and desire to pursue these subjects in the future. On top of that, robots are great tools for learning the beauty of self-assessment and encouraging students to evaluate their work.
- Programming language: Educational robotics teaches children the basics of programming languages. Additionally, students engaged with classroom robots learn how to search and handle information before committing to a project.
Educational Robotics Challenges
Similarly to implementing VR into other sectors besides gaming and entertainment, inclusion of educational robotics in education can be quite challenging. Not only is it a relatively new branch, but it also requires a significant investment, which only some public and private schools could sustain.
Here are the factors affecting educational robotics-worldwide adoption:
- Lack of equipment: According to the MarketsandMarkets report, the cost of a humanoid robot can range from $7,000 to $50,000. The high cost of educational robots deters schools from investing in this opportunity to create a better learning environment for students. An average middle school would need at least 10 robots to ensure all students could benefit from this new addition to the curriculum. Unfortunately, such large investments would take a large chunk of their budget, not to mention that an investment of such immense proportions exceeds the yearly budget of an average public school
- Training and support: Teachers engaging with educational robotics should undergo additional training. They need to learn how to interact with the robot, provide support when needed, and help children assimilate to a new learning environment. On top of that, educational robots must be charged regularly, and other technical disruptions such as software updates, could affect the curriculum.
- Stigma: With the rise of recent technologies, the stigma around robotics and AI has never been more prominent. That said, even if the school provides the necessary funding for humanoid robots for teaching purposes, parents might disagree with the school’s decision to implement educational robotics in the classroom.
Despite facing challenges, educational robotics is a promising field. Children react positively to a new learning environment, and it’s just a matter of time before educational robotics becomes more approachable and a standard approach to education in many classrooms worldwide.