He began his career as a primary level teacher and later specialized in technology and models for incorporating new technologies into the educational system. He participated as a workshop facilitator, content writer and advisor in various public programs as well as in the private sphere. He currently serves as CEO at Educabot, a company of which he is co-founder.
The pandemic required that classrooms be moved to each of the student’s homes. In these improvised spaces for learning, there were no teachers in charge of a course, there were no resources and tools offered by the school infrastructure, we could not interact as we did in person. In this context, new provisions emerged, new responses were created. Educators, students and families appropriated digital tools that did not have a specific meaning in face-to-face learning.
How can we create learning spaces that take advantage of the best of presence and virtuality? That is the question that today brings together all the actors who participate in the educational ecosystem and the EdTech market. Governments, educators, families, third sector organizations and companies have the opportunity to work together so that technology is not a magical solution to the problems of countries, but tools for their social, educational and economic development in the present and in the future.
We live in a scenario marked by the advancement of collective intelligence, Big Data, the Internet of things, artificial intelligence and “machine learning”. At Educabot we understand that computational thinking, programming and robotics in the field of education allow us to provide a comprehensive and solid response to a context of permanent change, in which skills related to digital technologies are essential for development, social inclusion and construction of student knowledge.
To achieve this, it is vitally important to review educational practices inside and outside the educational system and at all levels (including teacher training) and also build relevant experiences that strengthen the development of new cognitive skills. These skills can build bridges that, in the future, facilitate the professional insertion of students in an environment of permanent change. Also prepare them to have a technological awareness as citizens and to be able to function in a responsible, informed, safe, ethical, free and participatory manner, exercising and recognizing the impact of their digital rights in their personal life and their environment.
Create to learn
In this sense, we created the “Aula Maker Educabot” program, with the aim of creating a space within schools that promotes the culture of making and STEAM skills in children and teenagers as a tool for learning, exploration and development. We intended to collaborate in the formation of a new generation capable of using technology in the search for creative solutions to real problems.
Aula Maker is an integral solution for schools where we equip the classroom and turn it into a technology laboratory. Our experience has shown us that there are many variables that must be taken into account when implementing a technology project in the school, based on an offer that includes electrical installation, furniture, equipment (kits of robotics, drones, 3d printer, laser cutter, etc.) to the platform, annual planning, projects and the teacher.
The project emphasizes the development of different skills and abilities that are required in the teaching and learning processes of the 21st century. Not only do they learn to solve the proposed activities and challenges, but they also create their own projects based on real problems in their daily lives. We want to inspire practices that give rise to creation and that enhance the interests of students, teachers and the entire educational community.
Redefine learning spaces
The idea of providing a space of freedom and creativity in the construction of knowledge, which empowers people through innovation and open knowledge, was affected by the closure of schools, which forced us to redesign these spaces for virtuality. Aula Maker, like all projects linked to STEAM education, have a great need to have a space designed for experimentation.
During the quarantine, many educational institutes had to rethink their daily practices using digital tools. Those who used to teach STEAM disciplines started using simulators. At Educabot we have a phrase: ¨if you like pizza, eat pizza, not pizza-flavoured snacks¨. The pandemic had challenged us and, as an innovative and development company, we had to take advantage of this opportunity. After a few weeks of brainstorming, development and iteration, we launched “Remote Session”, a functionality for our software that allows any robotics kit to be programmed in real-time remotely and collaboratively without the need to add any extra hardware.
What benefits did this revolutionary way of teaching robotics have? In the first place, it reduced the initial investment of the schools, due to the lower cost (one kit is good for the whole classroom and for many classrooms in different spaces). Second, with this functionality, educators would be able to see in real-time what all students are programming. Lastly, we were promoting the development of collaboration skills through digital tools.
When we started working with the “Remote Session” in schools we realized that, just as they could load code on the teacher’s board and see three LEDs in real-time simulating a traffic light, we could also bring this experience to reality and allow students program a real traffic light, or at least a miniature one.
This is how we created a unique experience so that, this time in a self-guided way, students could program an interactive model of the City of Buenos Aires. Through an animated video, they were told that a strong storm had devastated the city and that they were needed to restore services. During the experience, the participants must solve different challenges to put the city back into operation. Divided into 5 groups, they had to restore the services of five iconic points of the city.
Through streaming they can see in real time the work that they and other teams are doing on a 15-square-meter model and all before time runs out. This time, we had managed not only to teach robotics and programming in a contextualized, innovative and fun way, we had done it in a way that did not require the intervention of the teacher. Something that often limits the scale of STEAM projects.
Collaboration is at the heart of learning, it allows us to work together to solve the problems that come our way. The context invited us to think about the global challenge that the entire society was facing, COVD-19. Why stop and not take advantage of this context as an engine that allows us to continue learning from each other?
Since 2017, Educabot has been in charge of leading the team that represents Argentina in First Global, the most important robotics world championship. Since 2019, we decided to create Copa Robotica, the qualifying tournament in which all the provinces of Argentina participate, and whose winner represents the country in the First Global Challenge Robotics World Cup. In 2020 we had to suspend the event due to the pandemic, but, in 2021 and already with the experiences developed in “Remote Session”, we decided to make the event virtual.
We create contextualized experiences so that, in teams, mixing participants from different provinces of the country, they can compete remotely. One of the games was precisely located inside a human body infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, where two nanorobots, each commanded by an alliance, were within this system to be able to combat and eliminate viruses in function of the Arduino code that they created and sent from the Educabot Robots platform. In other words, they programmed from every corner of the country and they saw the result in real time in a model also created entirely for the competition.
Another challenge was to find a genetic sequence of a new mutation of the virus that could save the lives of millions of people. The game places us in a laboratory in which a group of scientists is working to find the genetic sequence of a new mutation of the virus. The sequencing device is divided into 4 sections of the genetic code. Each of these sections has a specific 4-digit code. The alliances had to decipher the correct codes of each one of the sequences before the end of the time. Similar to Wordle, the famous game but with numbers.
The emergency as an opportunity
The pandemic came to change our lives, it accelerated and changed the way we buy, work and even bond. Technologies have become invaluable tools to be able to continue with our lives, during isolation and in the context of a health emergency. The pandemic showed us why developing skills like creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking are crucial for life in the 21st century.
These skills are probably not enough. For successful preparation, it is important to add to these skills specialized technical expertise, which is becoming increasingly important to compete in the global knowledge economy, especially in technical areas, due to the elimination of jobs by increasing automation. In this context, with the return to attendance, we also run the risk of not learning what we can change and improve about our practices, and how to create hybrid scenarios to enhance learning.
At Educabot we believe that the pandemic gave us the opportunity to create a new way of teaching robotics, to take advantage of resources and to make a practice scalable that can often only take place in a prepared physical space that perhaps few schools can have. What has happened has shown us that the crisis we are going through can also be seen as an opportunity to move towards an educational system that has more tools and is more resilient, providing new skills and professional tools, both to school leaders, teachers and students. Today we know that we have the potential to bring comprehensive and pertinent techno-pedagogical proposals closer, so that more and more students have the opportunity to build a better future for all.