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DISCUSSION POST: Robotics and electronics in the classroom


imageMany of us are exploring the new digital technologies content as two new technological areas of the Technology Learning area. Considering funding doesn’t come from a bottomless pit, deciding what equipment and consumables (electronics, robotics, peripherals, 3D printers) to purchase and how to use them wisely, can be a huge consideration for schools and kura.


Start with what we know

An important place to start; is to find out what equipment you already have. Create an inventory. Gather teacher data on the frequency, use, appropriateness and desirability of the equipment being used. Ask teachers what they would like to see more of and why?  


We don’t know what we don’t know

Investigate what is available to schools:

Authentic integration

Makerspace Robotics is an excellent vehicle for project and inquiry-based learning. By providing opportunities for students to interact, exchange ideas, solve problems and come up with solutions together, students can drive their own learning. They are able to be curious, question, and be responsible for outcomes. Robotics Getting started: Enabling e-Learning (TK).


Use a design thinking framework, much like Clive Francis has done here, to think how new purchases will fit into your curriculum delivery plan. For example, based on learner needs (interests, needs, abilities), how will you plan and implement CTDT (unplugged, plugged coding, peripherals) and DDDO (inputs, outputs) into the Technology Learning area and beyond, into other learning areas and/or authentic contexts (problem-based learning, student-inquiry, Makerspace, STEM/STEAM) and what digital tools, products and resources will enable this to happen in a relevant and meaningful way?


Budget and resourcing


  • Purchasing and payment plans – immediate/long term costs, fundraising, student fees and/or leased equipment?
  • Price vs value and most efficient use of the resource? EG: one laser printer instead of separate printers in each classroom
  • Ongoing costs to purchase and maintain consumables – sensors (moisture, sound), lights, batteries, wires, conductive tape, filament, etc
  • Donated or free products – ie: old phones, computers for tinkering 

Electronics kit Use criteria to judge functionality, effectiveness and durability and make comparisons between products. For example see Best robotic kit for beginners for some guidelines to consider. 


Also think about where the equipment will be stored and where it will be used – ie: booked/wheeled out to classrooms, used in one space. Consider the age appropriateness of coding platforms, robotics, electronics, peripherals, inputs/outputs. For more see, Robotics Start small: Enabling e-Learning (TKI) and Setting up a Makerspace in your school: Enabling e-Learning (TKI).


For more informal discussions, join us in next week’s informal Q&A session, LIVE WEBINAR:  Choosing and using robotics and electronics in authentic contexts​, 21 August, 3.45pm - 4.45pm where your questions and ideas become part of this hui. Register Now.

In the meantime, how is everyone choosing and using technologies and equipment? Do you have any audit templates or criteria for purchasing or using to share? We’d love to hear more. 



Also see:


INTERVIEW WITH A GURU: Makerspace with Digital Technologies in a primary classroom

INTERVIEW WITH A GURU: Computational thinking in the primary classroom with Ginette Van Praag

Dealing with the growing pile of e-waste: Interface article

Image sources: Flickr: Mathius Pastwa Monopoly money, Pxhere: CC0 public domain Makerspace, Flickr: Adafruit industries Robotics kit



  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 23 Aug 2019 1:22pm ()

    This week saw another opportunity for Enabling e-Learning community members to come together online and share their expertise around decision making processes for purchasing and using digital equipment. A big huge thank you to Amanda Simpson (founder of CreoKit), Iain Cook-Bonney (STEAM and Digital Collaboration Facilitator based in Dunedin) and Clive Francis (CORE accredited facilitator) who led these discussions.

    We based the conversations around what you said you wanted to know more about, so please feel free to join the e-Learning: Leadership host group and contribute to this discussion thread, if you'd like to know or share more.

    Feel free to share these resources with your colleagues.

Join this group to contribute to discussions.

e-Learning: Leadership

e-Learning: Leadership

Exploring leadership for change, vision, policy and strategy that integrates ICTs into learning.