Performing Remote Co-design

Facilitator showing up arrow picture and pointing at background.

We were looking forward to resuming our co-design activities after receiving great feedback from learners and teachers about our previous work. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic we had to suspend our in-person sessions.

Creative workarounds had to be found in order to not let this crisis impede our progress. Our experimentation resulted in us designing some new online coding activities that we could engage learners and parents with using video conferencing technologies.

This was challenging but very fruitful! All six of our sessions were documented in detail on our wiki, but we would like to take this opportunity to showcase some highlights.

Preparing Learners for Coding

Facilitator holding up pictures of a washing machine and hat and mittens.

During our first session we wanted to introduce learners to the concept of providing robots with instructions in a virtual environment. We felt this experience would allow us to build on and introduce more complex ideas, such as the use of our coding environment to observe cause and effect, to understand how one action leads to another.

To make sure students were comfortable identifying robots and interacting with them, we used a variety of resources ranging from a video containing examples of real-life robots to role-playing activities where learners were encouraged to provide instructions using physical cards. This first session was limited to the use of physical media which would then pave the way to learners using computers and user interfaces.

Introduction to User Interfaces

Facilitator holding up pictures of a washing machine and hat and mittens.

Next, we wanted to reinforce the idea of giving robots one-step directions in a virtual environment. In this setting, learners used iPads to interact with a prototype and navigated a submarine in an underwater environment! The prototype included audio labels and animated icons to further assist learners.

While at the previous session we provided learners with one ‘up’ movement option, at this one we introduced ‘down’, ‘left’, and ‘right’. These additional options along with the use of iPads brought us closer to a point where we could start working with our Inclusive Coding Environment.

Becoming Familiar with Our Coding Environment

Virtual safari setting containing animals and a jeep.

In a later session we were able to introduce our coding environment to learners and encouraged them to practice composing sequences with it. They were then able to use this skill to navigate a virtual safari adventure.

During previous sessions, students experienced a cause and effect interaction and saw immediate results every time they performed an action. However, in this session, students were encouraged to first plan a path with our coding environment and then play their program to see the results.

This was a brief summary of our work over the past few months. Please visit our wiki to find more details about all of our sessions. We hope to have more co-design sessions in the near future!