Ques : What is the plan after these courses? What are the “FOUR LEVELS” of courses mentioned?
Ans: What makes better than other technology education institutes is our curriculum, industry & real world focus and organized, step-by-step nature of our courses.
Sharing our overall four level program structure.
Level 1: Beginners Level/Starting Place: These are the two courses we are running now. By the end of these two courses, students get a holistic idea about Robotics. It help them to figure out their interests/subdomains as they specialize in future.
With RCF course, they understand internal parts of robots and integrating them using programming. With RPF, they get a solid understanding on programming techniques for a robot and configure and customize them for various uses/industries.
All classes use projects-based approach. We start with very simple projects initially, in order to make students comfortable. Students build and program robots in almost every class. We use some of the best curriculum from around the world and customize it for use in Canada. Students are grouped into separate groups within the same batch and work on projects of differing complexity. But all of them uses block based or GUI based programming (as opposed to any syntax-based programming). They continue their studies at home using the online resources we show them in the class.
Audience: Ages 9 to 14.
Level 2: The second level is where most of the robotics and related emerging technology education happens. Student get to explore robotics and related topics with a multitude of courses. They learn real syntax-based programming languages using the conceptual foundation they gained from Level 1. Some courses will be mandatory and some optional. We work with students to set a path for them to continue their self-studies in specific areas.
At the end of these courses, creative and genuinely interested students are expected to be ready to tackle real world issues using these technologies.
We plan to start these courses in 2021. The first two level 1 courses are mandatory to join this level.
Audience: Ages 9 to 14.
Level 3: At the third level, students try to tackle real world issues they care about. May be in real world/industry projects depending on the students. Team work and Leadership will be a big part of it. We just support and mentor the students.
Level 4: We will share the information about this level in due course. It is too early to publish it.
Ques : What does students need for joining online classes?
Ans: 1) A good internet connection is definitely required. Nowadays this is given. We have seen that it is working well at even at 30 Mbps connections. Most high speed plans today offer much more than that. However it is important that student sit in an area not far from the modem.
2)A windows laptop is mandatory for Robotics course (RPF). Average laptops will do. Need not be a high end configuration. For programming course (CPSP) most devices would work.
3)Preferably a headset with mic. However it is okay if you do not have this. But make sure student sit in an area without much noise, like the younger ones disturbing the student etc. Either way, Instructors and each students have the ability to mute or stop the video quickly if the situation require momentarily.
4)A reasonably well lit area with light falling on the face of the student. Minimal light from background falling to the camera.
Ques : As a parent, how do I know that online course is effective as in the regular class?
Ans: It is true that most of the online classes are done without necessary precautions and students end up loosing out. However all our instructors are using these online tools for a very long time and created an approach to minimize loose of value. Mainly,
- We do additional introductory class just for setting up all the students devices. If some students are not covered in that session, we work with students offline 1:1 to ensure all the setup is completed for the first class itself.
- We insist that all students and instructors are visible via video (As opposed to only viewing the instructor and students participate via video only most time). This helps the feeling of connection with instructors and among students.
- There are multiple instructors in most classes (We maintain the 1:8 instructor-students ratio in online classes also). They can fully access students devices and correct code or do whatever necessary on a 1:1 fashion, as in the real classes. Having multiple instructors in the same class facilitate this without disturbing the whole class.
- We run multiple projects based on students age/level in the same class in our regular classes. In online classes, we achieve the same thing via the use of online breakout rooms.
Ques : You mix a wide age range (9 to 14 years) of students to your class. Doesn’t their speed of grasp differ?
Ans: We group students to groups of two to four initially. These students work on projects. We start with same projects, but if a group finishes work early, they can move to next project or more complex projects of similar nature. So the groups of age 14 might be working on a project different from those of 9 year old. However, if we find that an 9-year-old is grasping quite fast, we do move him/her to the groups doing advanced projects one step at a time. This way as the classes progress, kids get to adjust naturally to their speed of learning and type of projects of interest. However, these are within limits as we cannot run too many projects at the same time ie; We can not have 10 students running 10 different projects.
After project, or projects of similar nature, we get to the theory part. Explain the concepts, why some projects worked and why some did not work. That portion is common, as the basic theory of electronics and their parts is simple. It is the assembly of those parts make complex products and projects.
NB: Projects can be physical projects, like working on a robot for a specific movement or objective. Or it can be completing a module
Ques : Isn’t 7.00 pm finish time too late for kids? It is close to the bedtime.
Ans: It is and we understand that. But, we rent facilities from school board, libraries and other affordable facilities to keep costs down and pass on part of the savings to families trying to educate their children to latest in technologies. An issue with this approach is civic facilities come with their own policies. Eg: Most of them do not rent their facilities before 5 pm on weekdays. They are impractically expensive to rent on weekends. So we have to work within these constraints. Also, many of our staff are experienced professionals working full time on their day jobs and cannot make it too early on weekdays. It would be hugely expensive to hire them at their normal industry hourly rates. Plus, many of the robots and their software is branded which makes them costly, leading to high upfront investment and niche skills to teach those. So it is all about cost management. This is how we are able to provide such education at less than half the normal industry rates for such programs.
Ques : What is your student-teacher ratio?
Ans: We maintain a minimum 8 to 1 student to teacher ratio. Usually our classes are 16 students and we keep two instructors in one class. Sometime 3 instructors in that class. They follow the curriculum.
Ques : Would the students be sharing the Robots/hardware? Would each student get enough practical time?
Ans: We group students to groups of two or four initially. Each group share a robot/hardware set. We provide students with laptops in physical classes (except private coaching). Students write their own software programs with our help. Most courses offer a virtual robot online to test and fine tune the program. Then they can run the final program on the robot and see it working in real life. This give each student ample time with robots and hardware.
Ques : What is the difference between the two courses? RCF & RPF? I want to know what is best for my child
Ans: RCF is Robotic Component Fundamentals, which is focusing on the internal electronics and components the Robot is made of and programming to integrate those. We have some innovative hardware to make such things like small motors, batteries, cameras and linking and programming using those easy and safe for kids. This is similar to computer making and needing to know the things inside a computer for it. The curriculum we use is a popular one in the Asian region but new to Canada.
The RPF is Robotic Platform Fundamentals, which is focusing on customizing, configuring and programming a robot, that probably another manufacturer or large corporation made. In future there will be such niche manufacturers and an industry to customize and program robots for different industries. So the internals become relatively less important but the programming and configuring becomes more important.
However, these are level 1, very introductory courses. We suggest students to study both at this basic level.
Ques: Can parents watch the class?
Ans: We encourage parent participation as much we can. In most locations, we can arrange a separate area for parents to sit and watch the last 30 mins of any class. However, let us know in advance if you like to watch, so that we can arrange it. Then feel free to stop by little earlier when you pickup your child. We have to meet insurance requirements as well as to ensure no disturbance to the class.