June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
22.959.1 - 22.959.16
Introducing K-12 Teachers to LEGO Mindstorm Robotics Through a Collaborative Online Professional Development CourseIn recent decades, engineering and robotics programs such as First Lego League (FLL) haveallowed children ages 9 to 14 to deeply engage with Science, Technology, Engineering, andMathematics (STEM) disciplines and inspired them to explore careers in STEM fields. In 2009,NASA awarded Georgia Tech a contract to develop online professional development (PD)courses for STEM teachers. The electronic Professional Development Network (ePDN) coursesare designed to model best practices in teacher PD by incorporating inquiry based learning andby promoting the types of active interaction and reflection by participants that normally occur ineffective face-to-face professional development sessions.Using Robotics to Enhance STEM Learning Certificate Course is one of four ePDN certificatesequences, which focuses on educating K-12 teachers to utilize robotics with the LegoMindstorm kits in their math and science classes. This certificate sequence consists of fourcourses, for a total of seventy (70) hours of work. Each course is organized into weekly themesand topics where teachers start by learning basic robot building instructions, i.e., how to programbasic robot behaviors using motors and rotation, sound, light, and touch sensors. Each coursetopic is organized for an asynchronous discussion on an electronic discussion board during aspecific week and is based on weekly assignments. Teacher participants are placed in groups andare required to use the group forum for some assignments. Teachers are also encouraged toactively use this system for general communication. Because collaboration is an integral part ofthese courses, teacher participants are encouraged to be contributors to, and not simply passivespectators of, learning activities.The robotics PD courses were tested in the spring of 2010 and are currently offered to thirty-five(35) K-12 teachers. During the testing, a formative assessment was conducted where qualitativedata was collected from the following sources: online evaluations by course participants,threaded discussions and focus groups of course participants. These data revealed high levels ofsatisfaction with the content of the course modules. Additionally, data showed that a sense ofbelonging to an online LEGO Mindstorm Robotics community was developed as a result ofparticipating in the courses. Our follow up survey results showed that course participantscontinued to communicate with one another and share their experiences using course materials.Additionally, some of the participating teachers initiated to start a FLL program and toimplement a program using LEGO Robotics to teach science and math concepts.In this study, we will describe our collaborative online courses, and its impact on teachers’professional development. Additionally, we will employ a case study approach to examine theeffectiveness of online PD courses in classrooms/schools. Each teacher experience aftercompleting the robotics course will be presented as a case, and each case will be used to explorethe impact of robotics courses on teacher practices. We will also investigate the longitudinaleffect of our PD courses.
Alemdar, M., & Rosen, J. H. (2011, June), Introducing K-12 Teachers to LEGO Mindstorm Robotics Through a Collaborative Online Professional Development Course Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. https://peer.asee.org/18169
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