The CODESKILLS4ROBOTICS project held its final conference on Monday, 22 March 2021. The event was titled “Can Educational Robotics teach our students how to think?” and was organised by the Lifelong Learning Platform in collaboration with the project consortium.
Over 80 participants gathered online on 22 March 2021 to learn about the results of the CODESKILLS4ROBOTICS project and discuss robotics as an innovative approach to STEM education. The tools developed within the context of the project were presented one by one, from the results of the early research phase to the extensive educational material and assessment system and up to the measures for sustainability and exploitation. Despite the difficulties imposed by Covid restrictions, the CODESKILLS4ROBOTICS programme was successfully piloted in three countries (Cyprus, Greece and Sweden). Representatives from each country reported on the very positive experiences of the participants (both teachers and students) and shared their smiles through pictures and videos.
The second part of the event was dedicated to a panel discussion moderated by Daniele Di Mitri (DIPF, Germany). The discussion saw the participation of Martin Mbaga (Impala Bridge and EU Code Week, Belgium), Stamatis Papadakis (EU Code Week, Greece) and Dr. Athanasios Drigas (NCSR Demokritos, Greece). The debate touched on topics such as diversity and inclusion in STEM education, the impact of Covid-19 on distance learning and the centrality of teacher education, and aimed to enlarge the discussion on project results by bringing in a wider, cross-European perspective. Martin Mbaga and Stamatis Papadakis provided valuable insights based on their experience as ICT professionals and educators, while Dr. Athanasios Drigas, as representative of the organisation that coordinated the project, contributed to linking their statements to the results and experiences of the CODESKILLS4ROBOTICS project.
On the topic of gender equality, Martin Mbaga stated: “I’m always surprised when people say girls are not interested in ICT. They don’t have ICT courses at school [in Belgium], how do you know they’re not interested? [We need to] Bring ICT and robotics in school. A robotics training outside of school is like a hobby, and there will always only be boys.” On the topic of teacher training, Dr. Athanasios Drigas stated: “The best [option] would be cross-curricular courses on coding and robotics” […] The challenge is to be sure that teachers are well trained – not only STEM teachers – all teachers should have IT in their [teacher training] course”.