Have you had the opportunity to meet Sherrie, our very first EdMazing Educator?
Sherrie Dennis has 25 years’ worth of teaching experience across primary education, but only added coding to her teaching repertoire three years ago. Now she uses technology and coding in her classroom to enhance learning across the subjects, from literacy to project-based learning. Plus she teaches other educators how to bring STEM into their packed curriculum in ‘hands-on, minds-on’ ways.
Our very own Kat Kennewell was fortunate enough to sit down with Sherrie to learn more about what it is Sherrie looks for in an educational robot.
You can see the full video interview with Sherrie and Kat over on our EdMazing Educator page or read below for a transcript of some of the short ‘conversation bytes.’
It doesn’t matter the industry: selecting the right tools for the job is always a challenge. How do you judge what’s going to work for your needs? Because Sherrie chooses resources for her own classroom and helps other educators make selections for their needs, ‘how do you choose the right robot?’ was one of the first topics Kat and Sherrie discussed.
Kat Kennewell: You’ve used a couple of educational robots now. What is it that you guys, especially as you’re helping other teachers select what they are going to put into the classroom, what do you look for in a robot that you’re going to put into a classroom?
Sherrie Dennis: Now I don’t want to sound like an advertisement for you guys but seriously, I own probably almost every platform of robots after I got into coding. I cannot find something that is (more) affordable, durable and practical across STEM than the Edison. I’m pretty blown away with the small little robot and how many things that we’re discovering that we can use with it.
When I first met Edison of course the barcoding made total sense because it was easy right out of the box, take it out of the box, get moving with it, feel comfortable with it. We notice that in our workshops as well to. We always start with the barcoding. What do you notice? What do you wonder? Then you can start unpacking and understanding all the sensors and the capability that it has across from the blocks (EdBlocks), which is very visual for those students who either have language barriers or just haven’t picked up language to be able to read very quickly, all the way to… Actually, we have teachers who feel very comfortable using blocks.
I would say then you have your Scratch (EdScratch) which is a stroke of genius on Edison’s part because it is very much like what kids are used to. And then I love that it even goes all the way up to a Py based coding (EdPy). Our teachers love it to! I have never seen a robot that was capable of all of those things in one little teeny tiny cute little robot.
When it comes to educational robots, Sherrie thinks you should be considering more than just the price tag. Not interested in a short-term solution, Sherrie looks for durability and ongoing technical support in her purchases.
Kat and Sherrie discussed what sort of value, including and beyond price, we should all consider when making our next educational buy.
SD: Not only the price is important but to be able to reach out, and I have several times, with a problem and maybe show a little video, and the company will always get back to us. I love the way that the product not only is developed over time, it used to have an intermediate program EdWare and then you changed it to EdScratch which was amazing as a teacher to be able to go ‘oh my gosh.’ This is a company that really cares about not only its product but making sure that teachers can use it and it’s not a robot that you buy and you use it for 200 times and it dies on you.
The durability of it, I’ve used it in kindergarten classes, I’ve used it at shows and it’s durable. It really stands up. And the fact that I can get the support and you guys are always offering such great little lessons that every time it comes out, I’m like ‘oh my gosh! I can’t wait to get into the next lesson.’ So, it’s important for teachers to have that support behind the product. Not just selling the product but a product that you can use in the classroom, relatively quickly too. It doesn’t take a whole lot to use it and how valuable is that for teachers who are pressed for time to go ‘I’ve got this. I can do this in my classroom. And I know that I’ll have support.’ That’s what I’m looking for.
KK: I mean, that’s been my experience with teachers across the globe really is they just need to make sure they’ve got the educational resources, the technical support if they need that, which of course the hope is that you don’t, but it’s there if it’s needed and like you said that the robot is actually going to survive the classroom.
SD: You don’t have to treat it with kit gloves. I mean, they’ve fallen off the tables, they’ve fallen off the… I mean I even love to the point of the minute, the little skid. They kept coming off and we we’re creating them and you guys came up with a solution then, it was like, you came up with a better skid. That’s the type of thing as a teacher I am looking for when I buy a robot. I’m like it needs to be durable, like if they know there is a small problem with it, make it better. Fix it. Make it accessible for teachers to use because we don’t have the money to then replace that.
KK: I think a lot of consumer electronics are, then go and get the new one and it’s just not the reality of the education space.
SD: And as a teacher I appreciate it to because then I get to use the robots in the class without having to worry about ‘oh my gosh, now I gotta buy a new set of robots,’ which I won’t do.
KK: Budget is a very real consideration.
SD: Absolutely yeah! And the fact that I can get as many robots for a great price is attractive as well too and knowing that I am going to have all the resources like the lessons, to where if I didn’t have enough time to come up with my own creations or my kids weren’t coming up with their own project based learning then you can still teach it and it still be valuable in the classroom and important.
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What do you look for in an educational robot? Is budget a big consideration? We’d love to hear your thoughts. You can send us your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. Are you using Edison robots in your classroom? We’d love to see! Add your pictures and videos to the online community of Edison awesomeness on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube.