The aim of the research was to study teacher perceptions of ‘future skills’ with the introduction of robot kits to their classrooms.
Children entering school inhabit an ever-increasing digital world and their personal, social and educational lives are increasingly intertwined with technology in various, rapidly changing forms. Full participation in modern society and the workplace already demands increasingly high levels of digital competence and that process can only continue into a future that we cannot imagine (Donaldson, 2015). Poor PISA results, identification from the Steering ICT review in Wales and a growing demand from employers for school leavers to be armed with ‘future skills’ has led to curriculum reform within Wales. Therefore this study examined ‘future skills’ which included; collaboration, problem-solving, computer programming and robotics from 5 participating schools in South East Wales. Four primary schools and one secondary school were selected along with 30 student teachers to take part in the project. These schools all had taught basic computer programming and the children were aware of how to code. Schools were given a robot kit and brief instructions were provided to programme the behaviour and movement of the robot. The brief was kept short to encourage diversity and originality in how pupils could interact and create using ‘future skills’ to engage in the project.
The qualitative data was explored and pupil’s ‘future skills’ engagement was reflected upon and teacher perceptions were recorded. The study utilised questionnaires and interviews completed by teachers and student teachers involved in the project.
The study found an increase in collaboration between pupils who used blogs, you tube and Skype to work through problems together. The common notion of ‘the teacher’ was questioned in this project as pupils led sessions and taught teachers and student teachers. Pupils, teachers and student teachers worked together to solve problems and the process of computational thinking was reflected upon to logically overcome these problems. Schools noted that through self-evaluation, pupils were encouraged to reflect on what they had been able to achieve and to plan their next steps within the project. ‘Personalised learning’ that was able to take place a pupils followed their own interest and coded the robots to do things that they were interested in.