Using LEGO EV3 for DigiTech Teaching: a Teachers Perspective

Year: 2018

Author: Chen, Ying, Fluck, Andrew, Fitzallen, Noleine

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Background or scope of research
The Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) endorsed the Digital Technology (DigiTech) Curriculum in 2016.  This paper reports on a LEGO EV3 robotics program using iPads in two grade 5/6 classes in two Tasmanian Catholic schools. Initial results show teachers’ lack of preparation for the initiative and highlights some critical success factors.
The world is increasingly digitised and automated. That requires a new workforce to obtain a deep understanding of digital systems, computational and systems thinking capabilities that are essential for problem solving. ACARA’s initiative in DigiTech aims to better prepare Australia’s young generation for the future. However, many barriers have rendered the initial Tasmanian government school reporting deadline in December 2018 impossible.
This paper reports on the findings from an initial investigation with teacher interviews and direct class teaching observations.  Insights from the investigation will provide the basis for further investigation involving more teachers and schools with the ultimate aim of generating themes or a framework for successful DigiTech implementation.
Research Design
This preliminary research involved interviewing three teachers who volunteered to allocate one hour per week to a 9-week LEGO EV3 robotics program in their Grade 5/6 classes in Tasmania Term 2, 2018. Three interviews were scheduled for each participating teacher: one before the program started, one in the middle of delivery, and one at the completion of the program. The researcher provided 10 LEGO Mindstorm EV3 sets to each class so students could work in groups of 2 to 3. The researcher also provided onsite support in the initial 4 weeks and the last week. Interviews were transcribed and analysed with Leximancer, a qualitative data analytical tool.
Findings and Implications
The research has found that due to limited financial resources, schools tend to select low cost tools. Teachers do not feel prepared to deliver DigiTech content due to lack of training. Professional Learning is needed to translate the knowledge into classroom teaching. School leadership and peer support are critical towards building confidence among teachers. Students are more open to challenges than their teachers. However an engaging learning program must replace the lock-step approach with individually-paced learning with minimum achievement criteria for slow learners so that they can experience success but incorporate extra challenges to stretch the more capable students. Gender difference exists in 3 dimensional skills and girls need more exposure and success to pursue a DigiTech career.