CRSP dsgn’s 2018 Robotics & Coding Pilot
In 2018, we endeavoured to run a pilot project which involved testing the Low Cost Educational Robotics Toy (LCERT) platform in various classroom environments across South African public schools with learners from different socio-economic backgrounds. Since the LCERT was designed to integrate directly into the existing CAPS curriculum, it was not difficult to enable learners to use LCERT kits to complete their prescribed practical classroom exercises.
Since this was going to be one of the first robotics and coding initiatives to run within the core curriculum, we realised that it would be critical to evaluate and iterate on the ergonomics, and user experience during initial roll-out in order to develop an educational platform that will be most appropriate to foster 21st century learning in South African schools. Both the educators, and learners were considered as end users, and improvements on our product design, curriculum content, and model will be made based on the feedback received from both groups of end users.
INTRODUCING THE FIRST ROBOTICS & CODING PILOT IMPLEMENTED WITHIN SOUTH AFRICA’S CORE CAPS CURRICULUM
CRSP dsgn embarked on an ambitious journey towards equipping children across various South African contexts and demographics with skills that will better prepare them for the 21st century and create young African innovators. The journey thus far has had several highlights as well as opportunities for learning and developing.
We kicked off the pilot process with engagements between ourselves and the Gauteng Department of Education’s Ekurhuleni South District e-Learning Unit, who then supported us with the selection of five schools that we could conduct the pilot with in the District. These schools range from Quintile 2 right through to Quintile 5 schools. Understanding the different contexts that each of the selected pilot schools exists within has proven to be key in making the necessary progress.
TEACHER TRAINING & EMPOWERMENT
In March 2018, we conducted our very first teacher workshops and very soon realised that the desire to impact on learning, would have to be based on a more intricate relationship with not only school leadership, but with teachers as well. We have since deliberately fostered a very close collaborative and communicative approach with the 20 teachers involved the pilot. This has enabled us to build the required trust and reliability with teachers in relation to the use of the LCERT kit. We believe that this will go a long way in building their confidence to facilitate the practical lessons that incorporate the kit.
DELIVERY OF ROBOTICS KITS TO SCHOOLS
The delivery of the LCERT kits in May 2018 was a seminal moment for us. It marked the culmination of numerous months of design, re-design, development and final manufacturing of a product that will make a significant difference to the five pilot schools and ultimately to the education landscape in South Africa. The delivery of the kits to the schools was met with great anticipation and excitement from the various teachers and school leaders.
INTRODUCTION INTO CORE CURRICULUM & SCHOOLING SYSTEM
Due to the core lessons incorporating the LCERT kit only officially kicking off in the third term, we requested and were granted an opportunity to engage with several students after their June exams, before schools closed. The informal sessions with the schools served as a microcosm of the interaction that the children across the various classes would have when presented with the kits. The play, inquiry, excitement and overall affinity to engage with the kit during these informal sessions served as proof that the kits would be well received once presented during official lessons in the third term.
One of the schools proceeded even further to establish a robotics club that meets every Monday and Wednesday after school. This club began engaging with the kit as soon as it was delivered. This was an unexpected but exciting development and provided us with insight into how far learners are willing to extend themselves when provided with the right resources.
early USER FEEDBACK FROM EDUCATORS
We have now conducted workshops with all the educators in the five schools in preparation for their incorporation of the kit in the third term. Several teachers have highlighted the high level of enthusiasm shown by learners at the prospect of using the LCERT kits and as a result a few teachers have allowed their learners to have exploratory sessions with the kits. The feedback provided thus far has highlighted the greater extent to which learners were engaged in the STEAM classroom due to the interactive element of using the kit.
We are excited to receive additional, detailed feedback regarding the incorporation of the LCERT kits into the lessons using worksheets that we have developed which are CAPS curriculum aligned, during the third term.
Primary Pilot Partner: National Education Collaboration Trust - EdHub
The EdHub is a dedicated unit within the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT) with an explicit mandate to promote and support innovation in education. It aims to coordinate innovation for 21st century education, so that it can impact, at scale, the basic education system in South Africa and ultimately improve education outcomes and quality of life for all.
The EdHub’s primary function is to provide support to innovative education initiatives showing the greatest potential to transform the public schooling sector, at scale. EdHub assists these initiatives in proving their case for scale, through the implementation of pilots of increasing magnitude over time.
In 2017, the EdHub selected CRSP dsgn as one of the most innovative South African EdTech startups that it was willing to support to implement its pilot project in various ways across South African public schools.