Our world is changing more rapidly, and the influence of technology is infiltrating every aspect of our lives. The statistics that surround robotic learning speaks volumes. 60 percent of new jobs require skills held by 20 percent of the workforce. In addition, 40 percent of Australian jobs are at risk of being automated in the next 10-15 years.
Queensland is the first state in Australia to make robotics and coding compulsory across classrooms. Countries like China have also recognized the importance of STEM. By 2020, Chinese schools will spend more than 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) on STEM-related courses, according to consultancy. The trend is also being encouraged by the Chinese government. The Chinese government is seeking to nurture more talent in fields such as technology with the country’s Ministry of Education making it mandatory for all elementary students to study STEM. Further, Daniela Rus, Professor of Electrical Engineering of Massachusetts Institute of Technology states that: “In ten or 15 years, robots will be as commonplace as smartphones”.
Robotics unlike popular belief is not a fad but is a must have for a world that is moving towards automation and artificial intelligence. The benefits of coding and robotic learning are clear, it teaches students how to communicate across different technology platforms, can create leaders and be the launching pad for students to realize their passions and promotes innovation and entrepreneurialism. The five key areas of robotic learning and coding are: construct (build the robot), control (sensors), interact (coding), kinetic energy (motor and batteries) and artificial intelligence (coding). These five areas of robotic learning promote problem based learning, critical thinking skills, curiosity, creativity and experiential learning.
Computational thinking is one of the greatest skills students gain from coding and robotic learning. Computational thinking is the ability to communicate your thoughts in a structured and logical way. Coding and robotics facilitates this type of thought process where students use step by step instructions to code their robot. Computational thinking is the process of solving problems in a logical and methodical way and this is the basis of coding. Further, computational thinking does not only benefit computer programmers or software engineers but can be of benefit to any career path that has problem solving components.
Robotic learning also encourages design thinking and facilitates students to use creative processes, collaboration and problem solving to design meaningful solutions to problems. Using coding and robotic learning, students are required to question the problem, adjust their approach and try various strategies to reach their desired solution. The overall concept of design thinking is that it empowers students to exert creative design solutions to real life problems.
Coding and robotic learning also endorses creativity and fluidity. Coding requires students to think “outside the box” and think of creative solutions to problems. Students learn that there are endless ways to code their robot to solve problems. Coding also facilitates a type of story-telling where students are asked to code a logical beginning, body and ending to their coding similar to a story. Coding also promotes fluidity as there are multiple ways to reach the desire outcome and not one prescribed path.
Ultimately, coding and robotic learning is not a buzz word, a fad or a trend. Instead, it can be argued as a vital new age literacy skill that is essential for every student’s future.