In the context of the 1st pilot round 24 students (13-17 years old) and 12 teachers were engaged in the eCraft2Learn learning intervention in Athens informal pilot site at Technopolis from November to February. At the same time the eCraft2Learn ecosystem was piloted in 1st EPAL of Korydallos with 27 students (15-17 years old) and with the involvement of 3 teachers.
In the context of the 1st pilot round the students were involved in ideation, planning, crafting, digital fabrication, programming, 3D modelling and 3D printing. The teams created several projects: a lighthouse that blinks when it gets dark, a shy rabbit that disappears when there is noise, a sunflower that follows the light, a set of Christmas robotic artefacts, moving robotic artefacts (equipped with solar banks, 3d printed objects, AI extensions). During the workshops the students explored several tools and technologies (RPi3s, Arduino, sensors and motors, visual programming environments (such as Snap4Arduino), CAD programs (such as Tinkercad), slicing environments (such as Cura) and more. In the end of each session the teams were encouraged to reflect upon their work and to share with one another the current status of their project.
As the sessions were progressing students’ robotic artefacts were enriched with more complex and advanced functionalities. During the last session, the students put the final touches on their robotic artefacts and enthusiastically agreed to present them in the Athens Science Festival (April 24-29, 2018)
It is estimated that the pilot round in the informal pilot site lasted approximately 30 hours. The formal pilot site (the 1st EPAL of Korydallos) integrated the eCraft2Learn workshops in the ‘project zone’; this practically means that 2 hours per week were dedicated for working on projects that are interdisciplinary and are not decided centrally but by the school community itself. The school had to deal with the challenging factor of time (as the time was pre-defined and could not be extended) and frequently the teachers had to come up with creative solutions in order to more effectively implement the ecraft2learn initiative in real classroom conditions.
We are now in the process of documenting final feedback from participant students and teachers through questionnaires and interviews. This process is still in progress. Preliminary feedback shows that the participant students enjoyed their engagement in the eCraft2Learn workshops. They seem to value positively the working atmosphere and the team work. The students admitted that they faced many challenges and they encountered problems which made them re-consider their design and approaches.
I enjoyed the way we worked all together and that we did not give up even when our constructions were not functioning as we would like to function…and no matter the challenges as a team and with the support of our teachers we made it.
First I liked very much the collaboration with the trainers and my group members. I liked it that got familiar with programming. For example I learnt how to program in Snap4Arduino. I learnt about the sensors and their use. I also enjoyed the design and the construction phase, but mostly the group work.
I liked that we used for our projects simple materials that we daily use. The atmosphere was also very good as we were helping other teams but also we were inspired by other teams and were being consulted by other teams. In all the sessions we were exploring new things and doing innovative projects that is why I did not feel bored at all.
In the snowy Finland, the first round of the eCraft2Learn pilots are taking place in two public secondary schools: Pataluoto school and Lyseo school. The schools are located in Joensuu, Eastern Finland. Both schools have approximately four hundred 13-15-year-old students from seventh to ninth grade. Pilots in both sites started in November 2017 and finished by the end of February 2018. In total 57 students from all grade levels alongside five teachers were participating in the first round of eCraft2Learn pilots.
During the pilots, students got familiar with electronic components and circuits (Arduinos, Raspberry Pis), computer programming (Snap4Arduino), 3D modelling (Tinkercad) and 3D printing (Ultimaker) by ideating, planning, creating, programming and sharing (eCraft2Learn craft- and project-based pedagogical model). The process immersed students in hands-on activities, problem solving and collaboration as they worked in teams of two to six members. Teachers facilitated the learning process and supported the students to work through the five stages of the eCraft2Learn pedagogical model.
The topic for each pilot project was aligned with the national and local school curricula and the projects were designed to be easily implemented. Teachers introduced two topics: photosynthesis and security systems. Each topic was developed by two different groups of students, where their task was to create a representation for these topics using the technologies provided. Projects were interdisciplinary as students integrated skills and knowledge from multiple subject areas in their work. For example, the creations of rooms with security systems included wood and metal crafts, arts, mathematics and social sciences. For photosynthesis representation, for instance, a self-watering system for a plant was planned, where one student team needed to apply knowledge from biology, mathematics and metal crafts with the eCraft2Learn technical core (electronics, programming and 3D modelling).
The feedback from both students and teachers was highly positive. Teachers mentioned that they were able to give students encouraging feedback often and in real time, which helped to engage and motivate students. Students could experience a completely new side of technology as makers and they agreed they had learnt various new skills while having lots of fun during the project. Due to the novel angle of technology application and usage in the pilots, the students required support and help from the teachers especially when working with electronic circuits and programming. For this support and guidance process, the eCraft2Learn open educational resources (OERs) and learning analytics tool will be integrated and implemented for the second round of pilots.