The Sphero is an amazing learning tool. The small tennis ball sized robot has students in awe at first sight. They will be so intrigued to play with the device they actually won’t realise they are learning.
The Sphero is able to roll in any direction at a speed of up to 7km/h, spin, flip, and change colour. Controlled by an iPad (or Tablet) via Bluetooth, students can accurately direct the movement of the Sphero using a range of Apps.
The Sphero App is a great introduction for students to explore the movements of the Sphero. They have the ability to direct the Sphero like a remote control using either a control pad or the motion of the iPad. Students can undertake challenges and missions to gain access to more features.
The real power of learning begins when the Sphero is paired with a coding App. The Tickle App uses code blocks and is the perfect platform to engage students in programming. Students drag and drop the code blocks to control the movement of the Sphero. To visually see the Sphero moving around the classroom, students are excited and quickly become aware of any changes that need to be made to the code to achieve their outcome.
With well designed lessons we can develop many of the attributes we want for our learners. Students will be designing and creating code to direct the Sphero while connecting, communicating, collaborating, problem solving, testing, failing, and iterating.
By evaluating the effectiveness of their code, students problem solve focusing on the key elements of time, measurement, angles, direction and percentages. They need a deep understanding of each and how they are related in directing the Sphero and how any changes made will effect the outcome.
- Name Writing
- Drawing Shapes
- Drawing Angles
- Mini Golf
- Ten Pin Bowling
- Obstacle Course
- Follow the Line
Students will be excited, challenged, make mistakes, and problem solve until they achieve the outcome set for them. Their engagement will be met with screams of satisfaction when they are successful. Students not only develop their coding skills, 21st century skills, but also develop their ability to learn.
In my role as eLearning Coordinator I am responsible for the deployment and integration of iPads into the classroom.
I have a fleet of 42 iPads shared throughout the school. To manage the deployment of Apps and device settings I use Meraki. This is a fantastic tool for the Mobile Device Management of our iPads.
With hundreds of thousands of Apps available in the Apple App Store it is a daunting task to try to compile a suitable list for classroom use.
The three major points I look for when selecting an App are;
- How is the App going to help the student achieve the lessons learning intention
Is the teacher able to assess the students work
Is the teacher able to give feedback to the student
Many educational Apps allow for rote learning of specific tasks to take place with lots of buzzing lights and sounds to keep students engaged. This can be great, but at the end of the lesson what has the student produced to allow for teacher assessment and feedback. I do see a time and place for Apps of this nature, but I focus on deploying Apps that can be used across numerous curriculum areas to produce a piece of work.
I want teachers to see the iPad as a tool they can use to support their teaching pedagogy.
I want students to be creative when using iPads, producing work they can evaluate and analysis to enhance their learning.
Here is the Core List of Apps I have put together over the last year that are now on all iPads;