Heading into blended learning

Pam Jones,
Educational Technology Consultant
United Kingdom

In KUBO Portal, a new whitepaper entitled Blended Learning: Sustainable Education, has recently been released and this blog will give an outline to the paper’s content.

Blended learning is not a new approach but through the past two years of a global pandemic and the need to deliver learning remotely; blended learning has become a focus for future educational approaches.

Blended learning combines in-class education with online learning sessions and can help strengthen 21st century skills (creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication) in the classroom while securing personalized and individual learning progression online. KUBO offers this opportunity to combine the hands-on KUBO robot in the classroom with the digital simulation, KUBO Play, at home or at school.

©KUBO Robotics 2021

It has been seen that students can lack an understanding of the relevance of learning about computer science in their education and don’t appreciate the importance of technology in the future. Although not all learners will work with technology development as engineers or computer scientists, most will be affected by technology one way or another. Therefore, it is paramount that we, as educators, create the right educational conditions to develop, support and ensure that young learners will acquire the necessary skills, knowledge, and values that enable children to navigate and thrive in times of pronounced technological influence.

When the future is shaped by technology, those who are able to understand, use, and influence it will be granted much greater decision-making power.

The white paper explores the benefits of blended learning as an approach to delivery. Coding is a key skill that should be developed from a young age as it not only develops the ability to understand how to program. For example, a hands-on robot like KUBO offers the development of critical thinking skills. Developing these skills earlier in education can aid it in becoming part of their skill set for life.

KUBO offers a solution that is a blended approach, the use of the hands-on robot KUBO and the online KUBO Play tool. It is essential that students have access to both ways of learning as they develop both their critical thinking skills and coding development. Students are able to explore concepts and learn through collaboration and communication, key skills that students require in all walks of life. The blended learning approach can allow the teaching approach to be personalized for the benefit of a better learning outcome. By transforming the learning environment to maximize the students’ time for personalized learning the learning can be compelling and meaningful.

As you can see in the diagram above the paper recommends an even split to the varying application of off classroom and in classroom. In practice, we suggest a blended learning approach where:

  • new concepts are introduced by the teacher through small group instruction. 
  • students practice the concepts collaboratively in groups. 
  • students demonstrate and discuss solutions through the facilitation of the teacher. 
  • students are encouraged to practice the new concepts individually through KUBO Play, either in school or at home. 
  • teachers follow their progression and use this knowledge to prepare for their next lessons.

Through collaborative hands-on tools, teachers become the facilitators of learning and can observe the learning taking place and support them through it. Using KUBO Play enables students to level with their peers or dive deeper into various coding subjects at their own pace, space, and time, which creates a safe environment. 

With blended learning, students can learn at their own pace, place and space, experimenting and gaining confidence. 

Blended learning can also develop a student’s creativity and communication through varying approaches. Both KUBO and KUBO Play offer students the opportunity to develop their 21st-century skills and coding skills. They can be used standalone but combining these together offers a powerful learning environment to aid students’ progress.

An example of combining both KUBO hands-on and KUBO Play can be focusing on key computing concepts and problem-solving. 

  • Small group instructions – demonstrate how to move KUBO from one place to another, allowing students to see how the planning of the algorithm moves to the program creation. Discuss key concepts/keywords and how to approach debugging if something doesn’t work as expected.
  • Collaboration – Students in a small group can develop a route for the physical robot KUBO to move along the map from one position to another. The group is communicating and collaborating on how they will plan the algorithm and then program the robot with the TagTiles to solve the problem of getting from A to B.  
  • Demonstration and Discussion – students are bought back together to discuss what they have done and how it went. Giving the opportunity to discuss debugging challenges they have found and how they overcame them.
  • Personalized Learning – The learning is then taken online with KUBO Play and each student can develop their own solution to get KUBO from A to B, this time the learning they have developed as a group becomes personalized to the individual task. As a teacher you are able to give individual tasks to allow the learning to be differentiated to the student, allowing the student to develop individually. 

The approach to blended learning is meant as a means to achieve a particular goal: to engage students and improve learning in K-12 educational contexts.

With KUBO, there is an opportunity to follow a blended learning approach, paving an educational path towards a future where all children can thrive by making coding easy and fun. Even the most technology-shy, will enhance creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication skills. Hence, all students will be prepared for the future. Are you ready?