With recent advances in robotics, interventions using robots that create the ‘play-mode’ is ideally positioned to make an impact in educating this group of children with learning disabilities. In these recent years, the promotion of robotic platforms as an assistive tool has been gaining momentum. Since this is an emerging filed, it becomes necessary to open-up this intervention to the learning disable children who are often neglected. This may eradicate the technological gaps that often neglect the special children in special stream schools.
RoboEd is a program designed specifically for students with learning disabilities that include the autistic, and slow learners to learn STEM. The aim of this program is to introduce the intervention of robotics as an effective teaching to learn STEM. Our main target audience are the students with learning disabilities between the age of 7 to 12 in selected special stream schools. Each student will be given the opportunity to learn using the robots for a period of 10 weeks. During the 10 weeks period, they will be monitored, observed and finally sit for a test to know the ability to comprehend the learning through robotics intervention. The contact hours with each participant is estimated to be around 100 to 120 hours. Ten robots are developed to deliver selected STEM syllabus currently being taught at the special stream schools. The robots are designed in such that it could deliver STEM modules repetitively and in an interesting way with fun exercises. These robots are designed, built, programmed and tested at the Positive Computing Research Center, Institute of Autonomous System, in Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS, Malaysia. Alongside the robots, books are designed, developed and printed for the students and teachers. These books have four modules: (i) build the robots, (ii) programme the robots, (iii) use the robots, and (iv) learning activities. For the beginners, they could use the book as a guide on learning how to use the robots. As they advanced, both teachers and students might be able to build and program the robots. Our bigger aim is to be able to see some students within this group, be able to build and program the robots, instead of just using it as an aid for learning.
The outcome of this program focuses on the various methods necessary to take in order to make STEM education with robotic intervention more accessible to students with learning disabilities by making changes in instruction, inclusion, and attitudes.