The workshop is aimed to promote exchange and sharing of experiences among researchers in the field of educational robotics. Over the last decade, at an international level, several efforts have been made to integrate robotics in tertiary and school education, mainly in science and technology subjects.
At tertiary level robotics is present as a regular subject within two contexts: in mechanical engineering and in information engineering where a greater emphasis is given to autonomous robotics. In this latter context, more interesting for general educational purposes, robotics acts as a stimulating field where to apply a broad spectrum of knowledge and competences, both theoretical and practical. Therefore laboratorial activities can be easily settled as part of a normal course in robotics. Robotics is therefore a good completion for the curriculum and training of an information engineering undergraduate student.
At school education level, robotics is being introduced from kindergarten to high secondary school, either as an interdisciplinary learning activity or focused on school subjects, such as Science, Maths, Informatics and Technology. Following the constructivist/constructionist paradigm, we see robotic technologies not as mere tools, but rather as potential vehicles of new ways of thinking about teaching and learning.
Educational robotics is aimed at configuring learning environments that can actively involve students in authentic problem solving, enhance learners’ research attitudes, allow learners to carry out their own experiments and investigations and help them to develop their abstracting skills and to acquire teamwork skills, independence, imagination and creativity. Such an integration of robotics in school classes is not just a matter of students’ and teachers’ access to robotic technologies. Technology alone cannot affect students’ minds and cannot act directly on learning. Appropriate educational philosophy, curriculum, learning environment, teaching methodologies and well-trained teachers are important factors for the successful integration of robotics innovation in school classes. One of the key aspects not deeply explored, so far, is how to evaluate robotics-enhanced class activities. In particular, regarding the indirect acquiring of new knowledge in informal steps or of new problem-solving capabilities or new social skills traditional tools like Q&A, tests and formal problem solving appear insufficient for a complete and objective evaluation.