Robot4All – closing the skills gap with robotics
Demand is increasing for skilled workers in the field of information and computer technologies (ICT), and information technology skills are welcomed as an additional qualification in an increasing number of non-technical occupations.
Besides digital skills, the teaching subject of robotics promotes other important basic transversal skills and soft skills which help to ease the transition between vocational training and the world of work, and improve access for and participation by disadvantaged pupils in particular.
The strategic partnership "Robot4All" is working with this approach under the leadership of Hanover's Leibniz University. A total of eight organisations from seven European countries set themselves the goal of developing a strategy to integrate coding and robotics in vocational schools. The particular focus of the project work was to improve access and participation of disadvantaged students by means of optimising key competencies.
The partnership's main focus in the area of robotics and coding was working with the programming language C ++ and the use of Arduino hardware components. For this purpose, a didactic concept was developed together with a competence framework and a concept for recording, assessing and validating learning outcomes. This was to serve as a basis for developing learning modules in the subjects of "programming", "robotics" as well as "STEM and soft skills".
From this resulted the Moodle-based online platform "Robot4All Academy" (www.academy.robot4all.eu) as well as learning materials and exercises which teachers are able to use in their lessons. These materials can also be used in schools without fully equipped robotics labs and can be implemented using freely available software and affordable hardware components. However, the platform can be used by independent learners and anybody else interested.
One feature of the online course is that, as part of the online module, each learner has the opportunity to gain so-called open badges - digital representations of skills, learning outcomes, successes or experiences - as a reward for successful completion.
Robot4All toolkit – an all-round teaching support
The consortium also developed a toolkit which aims to assist teachers in preparing their teaching and in running the online courses. The "Robot4All-Toolkit" consists of several handbooks, guides and videos which address different parts of the teaching.
For example, the "ROBOT4ALL educational pack and competence framework handbook" serves as an introduction to the didactic strategy and contains explanations of the participating learners' skills and competencies which are to be improved. The handbook also includes teaching materials for programming in C++ and for working with Arduino Robotics.
The toolkit also provides all of the online module exercises and tests together with their solutions as PDF files, as well as a mark scheme for teachers. The "Robot4All - Moodle handbook" can also be used as additional support. This explains how the online courses are implemented on the learning platform. The toolkit even has helpful materials available for the first lesson in the form of a PowerPoint presentation as well as introductory videos which aim to familiarise learners with the strategy of "Robot4All".
All basic STEM skills integrated in one subject
In terms of vocational education and training, robotics offers an exciting opportunity for integrating basic skills from the areas of mathematics, information technology science and engineering in a single teaching subject and, in addition, for promoting further competencies which are important in the world of work such as problem-solving, creativity, teamwork and analytical thinking. The aim of promoting coding and robotics via the strategic partnership Robot4All is to contribute to enriching curriculum provision in vocational training and continuing education, and at the same time to encourage improved matching of skills in order to bridge the gap between initial and continuing vocational education and training and the world of work.
Source: na-bibb.de (website of the National Agency at the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training), revised by iMOVE, March 2021