The aim of this study was to reveal pre-service teachers' experiences in learning robotics design and programming. Data were collected from 15 pre-service teachers through semi-structured interviews and analyzed using the content analysis method. Three themes were identified in this study: Course process, professional development and teaching children. The pre-service teachers indicated that they found opportunities to learn by doing and experience, enjoyed doing robotics activities and felt in flow in this process. They also expressed that the robotics programming course positively influenced their attitudes towards programming and improved their programming skills. They emphasized the importance of keeping their intrinsic motivation high by maintaining their individual efforts to solve problems. Moreover, they made various suggestions for teaching robotics to children. Implications are discussed in terms of practices for educational robotics in teacher training, and further research directions.
The ``digital society'' provides not only with new technology, but also with new concepts. Information plays a central role and becomes a valuable good, but knowledge cannot be reduced to information, and one aim for educators is to contribute in a ``knowledge society'', not only an ``information society''. A knowledge society is structured in networks, enriching the traditional hierarchies; a knowledge society promotes a kind of ``collective intelligence''. In such a society, open and distance learning has new dimensions and faces new challenges: collaboration and individualization, dealing with time and space, dealing with presence and distance, and contributing to lifelong learning. The Stellenbosch Declaration gives the main trends for ICT in education in a knowledge society, according to six major issues: digital solidarity, learners and lifelong learning, decision-making strategies, networking, research, teachers.
The use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in education is one important competence that student teacher should develop in their academic studies. To be capable of using ICT in education, students should study both pedagogical and technical issues. In order to affect student teachers' willingness to use ICT in education, more attention should be paid to their learning experiences. In this research, student teachers' attitudes toward the use of ICT in education were studied before and after the web-based course. Based on students' learning experiences, attitudes and evaluations of the web-based learning environment, dimensions of a successful web-based learning environment were examined. According to the results, ``motivation and accuracy'', ``learner-interface interaction'' and ``learner control and self-directed learning''are the dimensions of a learning environment that encourages student teachers' to use ICT in education. A well designed learning environment also gave a realistic overview and knowledge of the possibilities and limitations of the use of ICT in education.
Distance learning involves a lot of work of human assistants. These assistants need to be connected for answering student doubts and questions. Intelligent agents can do part of this repetitive work because they can observe students interacting with educational courses, detect learning troubles of these students, and then suggest them some way for overcoming those troubles. However, a design problem appears with this promised possibility: how to connect educational applications with these agents. This paper presents a solution to this problem, in which both the capture of student's intentions and agent intervention for helping students are specified. These two architectural design points are defined as connection points. The first connection point is named student intentions. Student intentions define situations in which agents might help. This connection point depends on the user interface of the educational application that students are using; the agent needs to know the gestures that students could do for interpreting their intentions. The second connection point is named agent interventions. Agent interventions define the context in which agent might assist and the type of help that might give, like a suggestion or a warning. This solution is introduced in the context of one specific application for distance learning named SAVER, which is used for exemplifying each architectural design point.
Distance learning programs have rapidly increased during the past few decades. In fall 2000 the University of Joensuu started to offer distance Computer Science (CS) studies to the high school students in surrounding rural areas of Joensuu. In this program high school students study the first year's university level CS studies over the web simultaneously with their regular high school studies. We describe the creation process of our virtual curriculum which is based the so-called Candle scheme. The Candle scheme search the most essential principles needed in on-line course design, supporting a student locally in her authentic learning needs via electronic tools in a light way. With the Candle scheme we have successfully focused in our design process on the most essential parts of the virtual study process. Our experiences of the Candle scheme in the creation process of the on-line CS program during years 2000-2002 indicate that the scheme is the functional one and expandable to other contexts as well.