Co-creational Education: A Project-based Flipped Classroom
Workshop Series for Online Education using Drone Building to
Teach Engineering Subjects
Arthur Schuchter
University of Tromsø, Norway
Keywords: Project-based Learning, Flipped Classroom, Co-creational Learning, Gamification, Drones, Making,
Coding, STEM.
Abstract: This pandemic has taught us that online education is more than a geeky addition to the educator’s toolbox; it
is an essential part of modern teaching. Online teaching of engineering subjects traditionally uses tools to
share screens, compute and calculate mathematical examples. It also enables work on coding projects in
teams and lets the students watch interactive physics simulations. However, there is no possibility to
collaboratively steer and observe virtual physics experiments online. What is often missed when working on
a project online is, really participating in an experiment and changing and adding your own ideas. We need
collaborative competence when entering the corporate world, yet education focuses too much on individual
learning. In order to make online teaching a more hands-on experience, this paper proposes co-creational
shared physics simulations and virtual physics experiments including 2D drone simulations. This includes
the concept of gamification because it presents a playful way for students to learn about physical aspects of
drones. The approach presented in this paper focuses on teaching coding and engineering subjects co-
educationally with the help of drone-building and aiming to create a platform for knowledge transfer.
The world we live in today greatly depends on
computers. As a consequence, the demand for
people working in the technical field and especially
in engineering and IT is increasing continuously. In
most technical industries, as well as in many other
economic fields, coding plays an integral role. It is
therefore vital for students to learn how to code
since it will help them meet the requirements of the
future job market. Many countries have added
programming to the school curriculum. There are
initiatives that aim to teach computational thinking
at schools and universities, but also to people
without an educational background in IT. These
STEM (German: MINT) incentives also try to
increase the rate of women and counteract the
skilled labor shortage in mathematical, technical,
scientific and engineering fields (Ntemngwa et al.,
Despite all of these efforts to integrate coding
into our lives and schools, we tend to focus on the
software aspect and overlook the haptic aspect of IT.
In technical fields, there is a shift from operators
turning screws to more software-based tasks.
Manual labor and traditional handicraft are being
neglected and deteriorate. Children often have
trouble holding a pen and writing by hand because
they are used to playing with computer screens
instead of coloring books. Our daily reality is
characterized by pushing buttons, using voice
commands, and tapping on our smartphones and
tablets instead of writing with pen on paper. Not
only is this crippling our fine motor skills, but we
also forget that all the devices we use do not run on
software alone, they need functioning hardware that
has to be built and maintained. It is therefore vital
that we understand programming from a holistic
point of view where hardware and software form a
symbiotic relationship.
In order to include the haptic aspect of STEM
subjects, we should favor methods of learning that
include understanding something by using our
hands. This concept is also reflected in our use of
language: an English term for “to understand” is “to
grasp”. Similarly, we use the German term -
“begreifen” - which includes “greifen” (to grasp).
The fact that we use words describing the sense of
Schuchter, A.
Co-creational Education: A Project-based Flipped Classroom Workshop Series for Online Education using Drone Building to Teach Engineering Subjects.
DOI: 10.5220/0010406504470457
In Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Computer Supported Education (CSEDU 2021) - Volume 1, pages 447-457
ISBN: 978-989-758-502-9
2021 by SCITEPRESS Science and Technology Publications, Lda. All rights reserved
touch for the concept of understanding something
shows that touch is an integral part of our thought
process. The use of our hands and the feeling of
building something real and tangible should be a
part of our educational methods. (Ntemngwa et al.,
2018; Andrew et al., 2017; Li et al., 2018; Jonassen
et al., 2012; Schmuck et al., 2018; Krajcik et al.,
For this project, we have chosen to use drones in
order to show how hardware and software aspects go
together and how to teach coding holistically. The
BBC Micro:bit, an extraordinary single-plate
computer for educational purposes, is at the core of
the drone and offers numerous teaching possibilities
from block-based graphical programming to
professional scripting languages like JavaScript or
Python. We aim to encourage logically structured
thinking in our students by teaching them to
understand and work with the hardware when
building the drone as well as to control it with self-
written code. We rely on a problem-based learning
approach where students are given a specific
problem (i.e. to make the drone fly) for which they
have to find solutions on their own. Our focus lies
on a self-determined, self-discovered and hands-on
approach for students to develop new skills
intuitively and efficiently. During this project,
students learn to create a real-life application with a
practical purpose, while going through all stages of
developing a product.
Since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, it
has become obvious that online teaching is a
necessity and that it is especially important to create
collaborative learning environments online. In an
offline environment, working on a group project is a
fairly easy task that encourages communication,
collaboration and hands-on experience. In an online
environment this is much harder to achieve,
especially in STEM subjects. Therefore, we
established a collaborative online-teaching course
with the use of drones. During the course we create
shared documents that are put together in teams
online. We use collaborative 3D modeling with in order to create a 3D model of the drone
and to encourage teambuilding. We also include
collaborative programming sessions with Micro:bit
where we use codeshare (high school) and github
(university students). Collaborative physics
experiments and simulations can be carried out
online in real time where students can experiment
with different variables. We use aspects of
gamification which means that we apply principles
of games to our exercises in order to make the
simulations more appealing to younger students
(Ntemngwa et al., 2018).
This project is designed to work with various
target groups, from primary school students to
university level. (Andrew et al., 2017; Li et al.,
2018) Primary school students, together with a
parent, will be given a link to an easy computer
game that lets you assemble an animated drone and
virtually assemble the drone. For high school
students we include physical calculations in order to
determine whether the drone would be able to fly.
This can then be seen in various simulations. Tasks
for University students include coding and higher
With this project we want to spark curiosity and
awaken interest in IT in general, especially in young
girls. We also want to show that STEM subjects can
be learnt collaboratively in an online environment.
When you look at how the world is developing,
coding is an extremely useful skill to possess.
Critical thinking is required for effective
programming and computer science is increasingly
being recognized as a fundamental 21st-century skill
that incudes logical thinking, structured thinking,
oriented thinking as well as reverse thinking.
(Andrew et al., 2017; Li et al., 2018; Jonassen et al.,
2012; Schmuck et al., 2018; Krajcik et al., 2005;
Keller, 2000; Keller, 2010). With an increasing
number of businesses that rely on computer code,
coding is at the heart of all of today’s technology.
We know that around 70% of all new jobs will be in
computer sciences, but there is still a shortage of
skilled labor in STEM fields. This calls for a new
outlook on teaching how to code. A child who learns
how to code will have the advantage of a wider
range of employment opportunities in the future, no
matter which industry they decide to enter.
In this digital age, coding is a part of basic
literacy. Therefore, it is crucial for kids and adults
alike to understand and be able to work with the
technology around them. Learning to code may
seem difficult, but it is comparable to learning a new
language. Coding can be seen as a technological
language that no child of the future can be without.
On a basic level, coding is learning to communicate
with computers. It is what we use to run all the apps,
video games, websites, and daily interactive digital
experiences. Learning a programming language
CSEDU 2021 - 13th International Conference on Computer Supported Education
therefore gives students the knowledge to make
better sense of the world around them and change
the way they think about and interact with
technology. Learning experiences can hugely benefit
from real-world settings and applications that help
the students grasp the importance and potential uses
of programming in our modern world (Ntemngwa et
al., 2018).
With coding, like with any language, the earlier
you grasp its construct, the easier it is to learn and
improve your skills. This means that teaching kids
how to code should start at a young age. However,
relatively little is offered on the subject of IT in
primary school curricula. In Norway, there are
sporadic projects on Micro:bit, beebot and Scratch,
as well as on algorithmic thinking, but they are
hardly ever on the curriculum. In Austria, there are
tendencies to include computational thinking in
teaching approaches for school children, but the
definitions on “new media” and “communication
and information technologies” in the school
curriculum are rather vague and superficial. (Hu et
al., 2009; Qin Yu-ping et al., n.d.; Wong et al, 2015;
Tugun et al., 2017; Strelan et al., 2020;
Bartholomew et al., 2018) Other countries have
made a greater effort in including computational
thinking (CT) into the curriculum. English schools
make frequently make use of the Micro:bit initiative
in order to develop CT in students and Chinese
authorities are putting a lot of effort into establishing
computer science and CT because they think that
robotics and artificial intelligence will bring forth a
new generation of economy (Hu et al., 2009; Wong
et al, 2015).
Since the school curricula in Austria and Norway
do not sufficiently deal with the subject of coding,
other learning opportunities have to be created. This
is why The Coding Club ( was
founded by Arthur Schuchter at the University of
Tromsø (UiT) in 2017 and then realized in Austria
later that same year. It was initially meant as a
recruiting tool for universities with the aim to
motivate more students to enroll in a technical
degree, but developed into an initiative that
generally aims to attract a much broader audience to
IT. At the club, basics in programming are being
taught to students of all ages and various skill levels
(primary school, secondary school, high school and
computer science students as well as adult career
changers). The workshop topics include block-based
programming with code blocks, Python and
JavaScript, among others. The Coding Club is a
collaboration with IT companies such as Eurofunk,
Kappacher and the University of Applied Sciences
the Institute of Information technology. All classes
are free and accessible to everybody. The Coding
Club is meant to help people overcome their fear of
learning a programming language and increase their
chances on the rapidly evolving job market.
Recently, there has been a very successful trial run
of a programming course for job seekers in
collaboration with employment centers (the AMS in
Austria and the NAV in Norway). The course aims
to equip future employees with the specific skills
asked for by their future employers (the company
will prepare a list of desired skills in advance). The
Coding Club also offers workshops for the AMS’s
FiT (“Frauen in Handwerk und Technik”) program
which is especially designed for women who are
seeking to work in a profession that combines
craftsmanship and technical skills. The biggest
benefit of the FiT program is that women will be
offered more diverse and better-paid jobs because of
their newly acquired skills, which will in turn have a
positive impact on the skilled labor shortage in IT
Another recent idea was to include making and
coding as two sides of the same coin in order to
show the relevance of making in craftsmanship and
creating hardware as opposed to solely focusing on
software and programming. This is how the AIRBIT
Drone Project was created, since a drone is a system
that is based on hardware but can be controlled by
software. Drones combine the fascination of flying
with modern technology and engineering. Students
use AIRBIT drones from Makeadrone, produced by
a Norwegian company MakeKit (, with a
programmable Micro:bit chip attached to it. The
Airbit is a STEAM learning kit, STEAM being an
acronym of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts
and Mathematics. STEAM education is the next
generation of teaching because it engages students in
a more practical and creative way of learning. It
investigates scientific concepts through inquiry and
problem-based learning methods used in creative
processes. With the Air:bit drone, pupils can get
hands-on and switch from being consumers of
digital information to designers and creators. Instead
of hearing about a topic theoretically, students learn
about a topic while actually doing it. This increases
thefun factor and the pupils and students
recognize the practical application of their
knowledge immediately. Building something creates
a sense of accomplishment because of the problems
we encounter and manage to solve – a skill set that is
needed in many areas of life. Such active learning
also ensures that students retain information with
greater ease. It is a fantastic way to use technology
Co-creational Education: A Project-based Flipped Classroom Workshop Series for Online Education using Drone Building to Teach
Engineering Subjects
in order to create a more multi-sensory classroom,
which is based on communication, innovation, and
collaboration skills.
Collaborative cultures have become one of the main
pillars for companies to operate successfully. How
well people are able to unite their expertise for the
purpose of accomplishing shared goals impacts the
outcome of a company’s projects, both internally
and in cooperation with their partners.
Collaboration requires creative thinking in order
to solve problems, institutionalized and experiential
learning, leadership, quality management, and
communication with constant improvement in order
to grow. Given collaborative cultures’ influence on a
company’s success rate and efficiency, collaborative
skills have been attributed increased significance on
the job market. With the current pandemic situation,
the demand for online collaboration has risen as
soon as people have started to execute their jobs
from home. Major well-known companies direct
strongly at working on higher scale projects, which
are only feasible my means of collaboration. Thus,
enabling people to collaborate successfully, also
online, is vital and will become inevitable in the
While collaboration seems essential in numerous
jobs, the education system is still concerned with the
individual rather than turning to collaborative
knowledge acquisition. In preparing students for
situations they will be exposed to in the working
world, it is crucial to promote collaborative learning
by creating co-creational learning contexts.
The concept of co-creation establishes a deeper
connection between a teacher and a student, and also
between a student and other students. The main
point is to apprehend education as a shared attempt
where teaching and learning is accomplished with
the students and not to the students. Co-creation
intersects with active learning, which means
applying an active role, versus a passive role, for the
collaboration with student and teacher.
Although active learning definitions and
practices may differ, they all involve the students’
interaction, contribution (physical and mental) and
participation in activities to get impartations,
reflections on one’s own knowledge and problem-
solving. Attitude and merits investigations play an
important role in activities that involve discussions,
writing or reading, or small group work. Elements
such as the purpose of their work, or the negotiation
of the content of the subject, or even the teaching
approach, can enhance their working and learning
process immensely. Students can figure out their
favourite approach for assessment and all the
different ways they can learn and work in a team.
(Keller, 1983)
In this context, gamifying projects represents a
means of encouraging students to work together.
Multiplayer games, for example, require participants
to apply collaboration competences: They work on
the same goal, communicate and optimize project
procedures. In educational environments, game
elements tend to increase people’s motivation by
changing their perception towards the task to be
carried out and get them actively engaged in
problem-solving processes and knowledge
acquisition (Zichermann et al., n.d.).
How can co-creational learning situations now be
implemented in online teaching sessions? COVID-
19 has taught us that online teaching is an inherent
part of the modern education system. Online
lectures, quizzes, discussions in break-out rooms and
feedback pools are used by many institutions in
order to ensure knowledge transfer and acquisition.
Especially in maths and physics, flipped classroom
and problem-based learning approaches are widely
However, while in most educational contexts this
repertoire appears sufficient to secure knowledge,
practical exercises, laboratories and experiments
pose a challenge to both, the educator and the
students. Interactive virtual physics labs are in
existence, but what they cannot master is to give
students the possibility to collaboratively work
online, work towards a goal, watch the outcome and
interpret and deduce knowledge from the
Given the significance of co-working
environments for students, we bring online physics
experiments to a new level, using our drone projects
as an anchor to pass on engineering and coding
knowledge to students. We believe that our project
not only leads to improved results as compared to
the individual level, but it also enables students to
foster teambuilding skills. This is critical for social
aspects, since trust and mutuality are involved, and
negotiating shared understanding is important.
Especially online sessions need special attention to a
sophisticated set of variables, which involves
emotional, contextual, cognitive, social, and
motivational challenge (Carle et al., 2017).
CSEDU 2021 - 13th International Conference on Computer Supported Education
It is obvious that how collaboration is carried out
differs drastically based on prior knowledge and
experience. Thus, it is our objective to include
collaboration at an early stage. As the book “Co-
creation in Higher Education” mentions, we have to
prepare our children for the future, even though we
do not know what it will look like. What will happen
in the education system, in the private as well as in
the public one is paramount. Whereas usability is
being taught in lectures, life is happening
intermediately. The relevance of relationships, the
relevance to the questions of our time and to the
society we live in as well as the relevance of
knowledge to our lives is key (Keller, 2000).
We use our drone project as an anchor to pass on
engineering and coding knowledge to the students.
Like in multiplayer games we created co-creational
physic simulations, where everyone in a team could
change and steer the simulation in real-time
collaboratively. In a first step, we wanted to build a
co-creational drone assembly simulation, where all
the team members could build the drone together.
This concept and realization can be seen in Figure 1.
Figure 1: shared drone multi-user simulation of drone
assembly and physics competences.
Building the drone often leads to problems
concerning the direction of the propellers as well as
the right channels. Thus, we created another co-
creational simulation, were the direction of the
drone, receiver and transmitter properties as well as
competences such as throttle, pitch and power of the
drone could be simulated. Only if the properties
were set in the correct way, the drone would be able
to fly. We used Unity 3D with C#, SocketIO and
NodeJS to implement such a multiplayer experience.
The goal of educational method proposed in this
paper ranges from elementary school kids, over high
school to university students. For primary school
kids the main focus of our project is to arise
attention for engineering subjects with the
combination of making and building a drone. For
high school students, the main goal is not only to
spark interest for technical fields, but also more
important to achieve a knowledge transfer by using
the drone project as an anchor. Mathematics, 3D
Modelling, Physics and coding are competences
which could be included in the overall project.
What is important for us is that the participants
gain knowledge in a more general sense and not just
about one topic. This is why we explain physical
elements such as thrust or rotation as well as
mechanical elements like tools, since both are
equally important when building a drone.
During the course of our workshops we make use
of Micro:Bit’s classroom tool. This tool enables the
teacher to see their students’ code in real time, to
release their own code to select or all students, and
to interactively manage all codes on their own
computer without having to check their students’
computer screens (
First, children and their parents subscribe online to
join the workshop. The subscription phase has to end
3-4 days before the workshop takes place, so that all
students can receive their Air:bit kit in time. Next,
the packages with the drones can be fetched. Then,
there is an introductory Zoom meeting with the
instructor who will give easy-to-understand
instructions and explain tools and parts. There will
be an online quiz on theoretical background
Co-creational Education: A Project-based Flipped Classroom Workshop Series for Online Education using Drone Building to Teach
Engineering Subjects
knowledge that is carried out in the beginning and
right at the end of each workshop in order to
compare the learning progress.
Figure 2 & 3: Impressions from a Coding Club workshop
with Air:bit drones.
The parents and their child will then build the
drone together (See Figure 1). If individual
questions occur, breakout sessions can be held with
the participants. There are online polls on how the
participants are getting on with the building process.
Online sessions are held where pupils can ask the
instructor questions and progress is compared.
As a next step, all participants meet in person to
discuss the next steps. The drones are already fully
built and now they have to be connected to the PC.
The instructor will explain micro:bit and how the
drone is controlled by code, focussing on how
certain parts such as propellers work in order to
make something fly. The teacher gives individual
coaching and then shows the flying drone.
Block-based programming languages are ideal
for elementary school pupils, as most of them will
have no previous programming knowledge and no
experience with CT. It is important not to confront
the learners with too many unknown concepts at
once. We want to take away the fear of
programming and rectify the notion that
programming is difficult to learn. Block-based
languages drastically reduce the amount of syntactic
padding and let the pupils concentrate on what is
important at this stage of their learning process
achieving results and finding a beginner-friendly
way to code. More advanced students can then use
‘real’ script programming language to achieve the
We use a shared word document where we
collect the most important information and include
screenshots of problems and errors. Every
participant can contribute to this word document,
where we follow a „work in progress“ approach. The
goal is to come up with a compendium of theory and
practice by the end of the workshop.
There is a feedback session and room for
discussion before the final results are compared. At
the end of each workshop a questionnaire is handed
out to the pupils. This includes the question “Do you
think you have learnt something?” so the instructor
can compare the students’ self-assessment to reality.
To finish the workshop the knowledge quiz that is
carried out in the beginning is carried out again to
evaluate how much the students have learnt.
In order to be able to cope with another
pandemic situation it is possible to carry out the
entire workshop online. We have carried out several
online-based workshops already. Since parents
participate to a large extent in their children’s drone
project, working mostly from home and connecting
with their teacher and fellow pupils online does not
pose huge problems. However, with only online
sessions the pupils still miss out on the face-to face
interaction with their peers and their instructor
which minimises the social aspect to an extent.
In coding workshops for primary school
children, we focus more on the making process and
not as much on the programming part. In order to
successfully establish an active learning
environment, exercises are carried out with parents
as well as teachers assisting the children. For the
Workshop itself an online meeting tool can be used,
to give instructions to the students, but still parental
guidance will be necessary, to ensure that the
students reach a sense of achievement and gain
confidence. During this process we focus mainly on
encouragement and enthusiasm. Our didactical
approaches include flipped classroom teaching,
problem-based learning and situated learning (Tugun
et al., 2017; Strelan et al., 2020).
Flipped classroom teaching is the opposite of
traditional classroom teaching. The children watch a
lecture online as part of their homework. They can
pause and re-watch it as often as needed. Back in
class, time is spent with the teacher on discussions,
interactive activities, projects or exercises. The main
focus in problem-based learning is that the students
must figure out the solution to a given problem (i.e.
How can we make the drone fly?) on their own.
Problem-based learning focuses on self-discovered
learning, self-determined learning, self-evaluation
and action-oriented lessons. Interdisciplinary
learning is also a part of this concept. (Jonassen et
al., 2012; Wood, 2003; Gallagher et al., 1992;
Kolodner et al., 2003)
We follow a multidisciplinary approach, since
not every pre-university student wants to become a
programmer and it can and should not be the goal to
push all pupils into this direction. However,
nowadays CT is an incredibly valuable skill that is
not only applicable to coding and similar tasks, but
CSEDU 2021 - 13th International Conference on Computer Supported Education
also to most areas of everyday life. Therefore, the
project cannot only be used to teach programming
skills but also to establish ties to other disciplines
and subjects. Building or assembling the drone could
be done in handicrafts, why the drone is able to fly
could be discussed in physics, and so on. This way,
pupils can learn CT while engaged in a project that
ideally deals with something they are interested in.
Figure 4: Example of simple block-based programming
example for primary school kids.
The main goal of these workshops is that the high
school students gain knowledge in the fields of 3D
modelling, mathematics, physics and coding. In
comparison to the previous workshops for primary
school kids team building and social skills are also
focussed on because we do not only want to achieve
knowledge transfer on the engineering fields we also
want that we „create“ „better“ students who work
better in teams. The other main difference is that the
students are put into a co-content-creation role by
being a part of the overall theory documents. We
adapt the pipeline of the overall project-based
learning process by reversing the overall pipeline,
i.e. the first time we create a document about the
drone, we present the ready-built drone and let the
students reassemble the drone and all the single parts
by documenting the reassemble process writing
down the important steps. (Krajcik et al., 2005)
This is a useful example of the reverse order of our
approach because we use project based learning to
the students and not only „flip“ the classroom. The
process shows also how education is done.
Figure 5: Workshops on Highschool students with the
subject of drone construction.
To obtain useful results in our workshops we
included quizzes about a topic before a session and
after a session about the knowledge, the students
should have gained. Input sessions were held live
and were recorded as well. In order to achieve more
interactivity for the recorded videos we used the tool to create interactive videos, where we
include quizzes in the recorded sessions. In some
occasions some groups were only educated with
interactive videos to compare live education and
interactive video education.
Figure 6: Example of JavaScript for the Airbit.
The basic structure of workshops for university
students is similar to the one for primary school
students (online subscription etc.). First, the students
get instructions from the teacher. Then they build the
drone while the teacher helps to circumvent
problems. During this stage, we focus on the making
process, and only after the drone is completed, we
begin with theoretical topics such as physics (e.g.
key factors such as throttle, rotation, or mechanics).
Co-creational Education: A Project-based Flipped Classroom Workshop Series for Online Education using Drone Building to Teach
Engineering Subjects
Then, we begin with a block-based pre-tested
example, where we explain components like the
channel, where the remote control of the drone is
and how the drone works. At this step, we explain
concepts like signals and frequencies. We focus
more on the makekit block-based code to program
the Micro:bit and explain simple programming tasks
like if and loops (see Figure 2).
Next, we let the participants fly their drone. Most
of them crash it at the first attempt, so we have a
feedback session on flying the drone and on how to
change code fragments and steering components in
the code. We discuss the changes and let the
students fly the drones again. During the workshop
we create a shared document as a theory and error
handbook of the drone, where every student is free
to add and adapt information.
The workshop described in the previous
paragraph is an offline workshop where students
meet and mostly work on their project on campus.
Of course, the university workshops can also be held
purely online. In offline workshops, we focus on
team building and on establishing social skills, while
in online workshops we focus mostly on knowledge
transfer. The current pandemic revealed the
necessity to extend the supply of online courses and
to improve digital teaching methods. Norway is a
pioneer in online teaching and has been offering a
large variety of digital University courses over the
past ten years. This is partly due to the fact that
campuses can be widespread over a large
geographical area. This means that there are
generally a higher number of online students. One
example is the University of Tromsø with its
campuses in Tromsø, Narvik and Bodø.
However, workshops that are held exclusively
online have one major disadvantage: The loss of
social interaction, especially for first-year university
students, which is very hard to compensate. The
feeling of belonging to a study group and to make
friends who share common interests must not be
neglected. As a consequence of the large supply of
online education, even students who only live a short
distance from University prefer to stream their
lectures from home, which often results in deserted
With university students we specifically focus on
team building, social skills, and communication,
which is why we devote as much time to knowledge
acquisition itself as to creating a knowledge-transfer
platform for the students. We also want to highlight
the importance of hardware in a software-focused
world, which is why we want them to understand the
combination of making and coding. Even at
university level, where the students are committed to
study informatics, the project-based-learning
approach can be used to foster understanding and
spark passion for IT and CT concepts and make
them more tangible for the students. This is
especially useful for first-year students (Krajcik et
al., 2005).
Similarly to our previous workshops, our
workshops for university students didactically
focuses on a project-based approach and on situated
learning. In the university, context also means to
interconnect different disciplines, such as physics
and IT, since a multidisciplinary approach can
facilitate understanding and will help to establish a
real-life setting. IT students at university-level can
profit from this approach, as it can help bridge the
gap from pure IT- or coding-subjects to other
supplementary subjects. For instance, the drone is a
prime example of programming intertwined with
electrical engineering as well as physics. The drone
could be fitted with sensors for which an interface or
a driver could be coded. This way, students can
combine their individual areas of interest and
expertise to create an inspiring project as well as
learn something new or deepen their pre-existing
knowledge. (Jonassen et al., 2012; Wood, 2003;
Gallagher et al., 1992; Kolodner et al., 2003)
A special feature of our student workshops is
“peer instructors”: We train selected secondary
school students to become multipliers who will then
function as instructors in university level workshops.
This loosens up the learning environment and
benefits the social aspect by contrasting the usual
teacher-student setup.
First, we conducted an online series of three
different workshops with elementary school children
(age range 7-10 years old, with 12 children in every
workshop, and with parental guidance). A quiz with
a maximum score of 100 was held at the beginning
and at the end of the workshop.
In workshop 1 and 2 the parents were urged not
to help with the quiz. The points from the first and
second quiz were added up and averaged out. At the
end of the workshop the children were asked to rate
the project, how they like it, from points ranging 1 to
5, with 5 being the best one. The overall assembly
time was also conducted. One point was if the
building process was accomplished successfully.
In the first workshop we had in addition to the
child one parent as the assisting person to help with
CSEDU 2021 - 13th International Conference on Computer Supported Education
the project. They only received an instruction lecture
on how to assemble a drone. For workshop series 2,
the child and the parent were compelled to work
with the shared assembly simulation in order to get
familiar with the imminent task. In addition, they
also received a lecture from the teacher. For
workshop series 3 the kids were working alone, the
parents only helped with the setup for the drone.
They received the same introduction as in the second
workshop. For workshop scenario 1&2 all the
participants managed to assemble the drone. Three
of scenario 1 and three of workshop series 2 did not
manage to make the drone fly. In contrast for
workshop series 3, 6 children did not manage to
assemble the drone completely due to screwing
difficulties. We were aware that assembling a drone
at this early age will lead to difficulties but still 6
children managed to accomplish the building
process without any help. We believe that parental
guidance at this age is vital in order to avoid mental
excessive demand.
Figure 7: Test scenario for primary school children.
It can be observed that the average assembly time
with additional pre-assembly training is the shortest
for workshop series 2. This leads to our conclusion
that by using the virtual drone assembly simulation
the overall drone assemble process can be shortened
by approximately 10%. While the satisfactory level
is rather similar it can be seen that the highest score
average is achieved for workshop series 2.
For high-school and university students we
wanted to show that co-creational has an effect on
the overall learning outcome. Therefore, we
conducted workshops with 28 students for each
workshop. For workshop series 1 the students could
use a theory handbook at the very beginning. In
addition, they did not use the shared simulation for
the drone-building process. They were only given
the assembly instructions at the beginning. In
workshop series 2 students were creating theory
documents collaboratively, training the assembly
process with the shared physics simulation and were
coding collaboratively. Results can be seen in Table
Figure 8: Test scenario for high school and university
It can be observed that the average assembly
time with the additional pre-assembly trainings
simulation is much shorter than for workshop series
1. This leads to our conclusion that by using the
virtual shared drone assembly simulation the overall
drone assemble process can be shortened drastically.
While the satisfactory level is rather similar it can be
seen that the average final exam score is much
higher for workshop series 2.
IT is a vital component in our day-to-day routines,
and it is impossible to escape it. Learning computing
skills from an early age on is therefore crucial to be
successful on the job market of the future. If we
want to adequately prepare students for future
careers in IT, we have to adapt and modernize how
coding is being taught in our schools. It is necessary
that we attract a wider range of students as well as
teachers to this topic in order to combat the skilled
labor shortage in STEM fields. This is why we
believe that computational and algorithmic thinking
have to be included in the curriculum so as to make
the subject available to every student (Ntemngwa et
al., 2018).
The current pandemic demonstrates that online
education is of utmost importance and will have to
be extended and developed further over the
forthcoming years. The problems we are now facing
when using online teaching tools show us the areas
that need to be improved to create better learning
experiences in the future. Learning how to
efficiently use online learning tools takes time and it
is an ongoing process for all those involved, if it is
students, teachers, or parents. However, it is a huge
advantage of these tools to help people connect and
share a collaborative learning experience, especially
in phases where students cannot meet in person and
miss out on the social interaction in private as well
as educational settings.
A vital aspect that online education is currently
lacking is the possibility to collaboratively work on
projects in STEM subjects such as coding and
Co-creational Education: A Project-based Flipped Classroom Workshop Series for Online Education using Drone Building to Teach
Engineering Subjects
physics. However, shared experiments as well as
shared goals are important for knowledge
acquisition. Students who learn working in teams
when they are young will also have an advantage in
collaborative work environments once they get
older. What future companies need are competent
team players and not individualists. It is therefore
important that students learn to work on projects in
teams, while they are still at school (Ntemngwa et
al., 2018).
The approach presented in this paper focuses on
the combination of making and coding as a
symbiosis as well as the collaborative aspect of
online teaching through shared experiments and
game-like simulations. Coding and engineering
subjects are taught co-educationally with the help of
drone-building and aim to create a platform for
knowledge transfer. Students have the opportunity to
create a real-life application with a practical purpose
while going through all stages of developing a
product. We believe that making and coding go
together and therefore favor a holistic approach to
teaching programming. This is why we chose to
teach coding with the help of drones since they give
us the opportunity to explain how a system
combines hardware and software aspects. We
believe that this approach is important because a lot
of companies in the tech sector need people with
practical skills as well as theoretical knowledge.
The collaborative aspect of online teaching can
be found in the way students are included in the
thought process and knowledge transfer. Students
are not just recipients of information but play an
active part as co-educating content generators.
Working in teams will help students develop
communication skills as well as structural and
computational thinking. Collaborative methods are
used to compose educational material together and
flip the composing process of the educator by letting
student groups create useful mathematical material
in a Handbook of Knowledge (shared document).
The experiments presented in this paper are a step
forward in the development of innovative online
teaching, yet there remains a lot to be done in this
field. The following years will show how online
education can be further developed and incorporated
into our daily school life.
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