University Of Tasmania
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Skilling students in digital technologies using long-distance controlled robots over the internet

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posted on 2023-05-27, 10:28 authored by Hastie, MJ
To meet the emerging challenges of this century and stay competitive in the international marketplace, it is important that Australian students develop the skills they need for digital futures. However, many Australian students cannot access digital technologies like robots due to prohibitive costs and the 'tyranny of distance' and this means Australia is at risk of being further left behind in our region and globally. To overcome the current trade deficit in Information Technology (IT) and a looming shortage of workers skilled in Information Communication Technologies (ICT), Australian students must engage in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) learning and robotics. The aim of this study was to determine the learning impact of a Long Distance Control Robot (LDCR) system when used by Australian students who could not access or had limited access to a physical robot. The study investigated the use of the LDCR system with students (n=32) aged 9-12 years at an Australian school of distance education during 2014. Students lived in a range of rural and remote and metropolitan settings throughout Queensland. They used the LDCR system over the Internet to operate the robot that was located in Brisbane. Three research questions were posed: 1. When students operate a robot, what are their perceptions of their learning? 2. What STEM skills do students learn through robots? 3. What complementary skills do students learn when they operate a robot remotely using a Long Distance Control Robot (LDCR) system? Data were collected from student surveys, a blog and video recording transcripts. The data were then thematically analysed using a case study approach that included coding density and content analysis. The research established that when students learned to operate a robot remotely using a LDCR system, their perception of learning was highly positive, their STEM learning accelerated, and they developed complementary skills such as procedural knowledge, technical skills and metacognition. With the expectation that Australian students will learn using robots, this study provides a way forward at very low cost irrespective of physical location.


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