<EduX Talk>What is the STEAM Education challenges and innovations under the world COVID-19 impact?

NAYTEA Host Sharon: At present, we are seeing the epidemic spreading around the world. As two outstanding STEAM education front-line experts Dr. Ju from China and Ling from United States, would you please talk about the current situation of STEAM education under the epidemic and the possible development opportunities in the future?

Dr. Ju:Thanks for NAYTEA invitation

In my opinion, STEAM education under the outbreak mainly includes the following points:

Now more is the time for the use of online courses. But online education is not the same as webcast classes. Online education is a change in learning spaces, learning resources, and learning styles. And if it is only a partial understanding of the physical space change, from the classroom to the network. Such a shift, in fact, does not make much sense.

So, what are our main concerns?

We can provide students with more resources. These resources are more diverse. In addition, the learning space and time also have changes, students have more autonomy and choice, and can integrate all kinds of fragmented learning. Online learning should not just be considered as a form of "web celebrity anchor" which is one-sided and not conducive to the long-term development of education.

What is important for STEAM, as a student, is that in this rich resource, students should be able to independently find the way to achieve the learning goal, and have the ability to acquire and integrate resources and solve problems. Among them, a self-learning ability and a strong sense of purpose are the top priorities at this stage. In this way, we can truly serve our STEAM education in the whole interdisciplinary category.

If we just equate online learning with web celebrity live, then the novelty of students will be maintained for a few weeks, and then from novelty to habit, and then into a sense of fatigue, which is not beneficial to long-term learning.

In the context of the global epidemic, whether you are ready or not, the world is starting to experiment with online classes. So, if it is a big testing ground in this global context, it is too one-sided to understand it as a live online broadcast.

That's my point.

Ling Lam: I couldn't agree more with Dr. Ju.

We are indeed in the midst of a very serious epidemic that has never been seen before. It is a sudden change and challenge for all teachers and management. Already a third are remotely teaching. I have 2-3 days a week to arrange training for the entire school district and to prepare lessons on how to use the online tools and teaching. In fact, many teachers do not know how to use online tools for teaching. Then after the class, each teacher studies grading online teaching, adjusting the content and output for more effective solutions.

Because most of the teaching at home is done by parents, parents taking on the role of teacher must be fundamentally different from teaching in the classroom.

So how do we coordinate?

Previously, teaching targeted students, now the education target is parents and students.

My course is robot learning in STEAM which brings me great challenges but adds unprecedented interest to the course. As we all know, robot teaching mainly relies on hands-on exercises and teamwork. Such a course adds a lot of interest to the whole family and enhances parent-child relationship through teaching and playing.

As the tutor of this course, I am more of a remote instructor to help parents and children work together as a team at home to complete the STEAM project.

In addition, we are facing a serious shortage of teaching materials and tools. There are various STEAM teaching tools and maker LABS in the school, while the parts of various robots are in the school and not in every student's home, which brings great inconvenience to our current remote teaching. I began to ask parents to use local materials, and then to reorganize the new curriculum according to the different materials available. After a few weeks of practice, let's also see that a lot of real STEAM education can come from life, from nature.

I think this outbreak has helped every teacher understand and apply online education tools without any preparation. Generally speaking, it is a good thing that in a very short time, every teacher has added a new skill after continuous training and promotion of digital teaching, which has not been quickly reflected in the teacher community. By the time the epidemic is over, teachers will have a more diverse understanding of teaching, and will be thinking of more innovative ways to apply it.

NAYTEA Host Sharon: First, please allow Dr. Ju to ask a question to Ling

How is “Charting a Course for Success: America’s Strategy for STEM Education” going?

Background: The United States, as the birthplace of STEM education, released the "Charting a Course for Success: America’s Strategy for STEM Education," which proposed the overall vision, ideal goals, and approaches to achieve STEM education in the United States in the next five years. It is known as the "North Star Plan" of STEM education in the United States.

Ling Lam:This is issued by the government to encourage and facilitate a STEM education five-year plan. There is no denying that this has a good, positive role in the country's overall level, especially to increase the STEM employment and facilitate school work and future employment, such as the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Reauthorization Act which encourages vocational and technical education program in support of the American students. In particular, women are encouraged to participate and contribute in STEM fields, and opportunities for women in STEM careers are increased. Meanwhile, the INSPIRE Act has been signed, NASA encourages women to study STEM and pursue careers in aerospace, and the National Science Foundation has a policy bias toward female inventors. This series of measures is undoubtedly to raise STEM education to the planning level of national strategy.

But after all, education is not just a five-year plan. It is a long-term, lifelong plan. As a front-line educator, I have been thinking more about how to apply the advantages of policy to classroom schools and daily courses, so as to make quality STEM education affect more students.

What do you think of D.loft STEM Learning?

Background: D.loft STEM curriculum design aims to provide a comprehensive approach to building STEM knowledge and skills while allowing students to use design thinking to identify and solve real-world problems

The goal of the d.loft STEM Project is to introduce students to design thinking and interactive learning through practical operations, so as to further cultivate future STEAM professionals. Developing students' core qualities and skills for the 21st century through STEM and design thinking ultimately enables students to learn to become agents of social innovation and change. In a case study, the d.loft STEM Learning Program selected 400 high school students in California to participate and provide jobs in engineering.

The goal of the course is to develop student’s ability to use "design thinking" to define and solve real-world problems. The program's learning activities expose students to real social problems and use what they learn to improve the lives of poor people around the world with low-cost engineering solutions. Students design cost-effective solutions to increase poor people's access to water, shelter, and energy. Expected outcomes include linking secondary school student’s design thinking curriculum to career development, developing instructional learning for teachers, creating an extensible model project for teaching and learning in design thinking and engineering careers, and collecting data on program effectiveness.

In my opinion, firstly, the d.loft STEM course is a very high-quality curriculum system, with the support and contributions of professors and academic experts from Stanford. They have also practiced the course within a certain scope and received good feedback. This is undoubtedly an academic and industrial connection and innovation. However, we also note that the age of use of this course is relatively fixed, which means that the limited and relative requirements of this audience for starting this course are not applicable to every student. We are looking forward to when this course can be applied in the true sense of the different grades of teaching, and become a complete system, a line can be applied to the more teaching, let the student apply "design thinking" to solve social problems, and it can be used as an indispensable part to produce in your own life a kind of thinking mode.

NAYTEA Host Sharon: Thank you for the excellent answers. What is also expected in reverse, I will let Dr. Ju answer Ling’s questions.

Ling Lam: Thanks! My first question is how do you or the teachers in China define the "A" in STEAM?

Dr Ju: Some believe that for Chinese students quality education is lacking in the field of arts, so STEM is added with "A" when it comes to entering China. Some schools also think that reading ability is very important. Add "R" and it becomes a STREAM. So, does this mean the more the better? Another concept is STEAM+ because it can add more stuff to the periphery. And such expression way is not equal to the superposition of each discipline. However, after years of practice, different voices and opinions have emerged, and it is not appropriate to just superimpose the internal push of various fields on STEM. Because STEM is not a simple superposition of various sciences, STEM emphasizes the process of engineering design and the method of scientific experiment, which is the essence of STEM.

Then, how "A" is reflected? For example, in engineering there is also the beauty of engineering, such as design aesthetics. Aesthetic education in China is an area that urgently needs to be strengthened. We integrate the aesthetic education into the whole STEM curriculum, instead of just adding "A" to it. I think it should be integrated with the whole curriculum. Students learn through STEM to improve their ability to innovate and solve practical problems.

Ling Lam:Thanks and I agree with you, this is how we are thinking in the US. My next question is does China have a STEAM framework/standard? How do teachers measure student’s success and create their curriculum?

Dr Ju:At present, there is no completely unified standard in China. At present, the evaluation of STEAM courses is mostly carried out in school-based and personalized implementation, and personalized evaluation plans. For example, in the process of work exhibition, certain measurement and detailed rules are made for the performance of groups and individuals, which are still in the micro and experimental stage. At the same time, this is also an opportunity, how to develop a forward-looking and universal evaluation criteria. This is of very practical significance.

Ling Lam:This is also a very good situation. When there is no uniform standard, everyone can use their creativity to continue to contribute to the whole evaluation system. I agree with you that teachers should also be creative, especially in a new discipline like STEAM, and learn to think outside the box.

My next question is there are many different types of robots in the market, especially in China. How do you choose the "one" for your students?

Dr. Ju:The question is what tools will be used to implement the STEAM course concept. What kind of people is education ultimately about? We are training people for the future. In terms of teaching tools and products. Through years of practice, we have seen that STEAM educational products on the market do not have very high barriers to competition. In other words, no product is irreplaceable, and there are very few products that have a significant advantage over other similar products.

Now the situation is to choose what kind of product is basically not different. But product iteration is very fast, even if the same brand, product iteration is also very fast. There may be two factors, one is the technical factor, the other is the marketing factor, the business needs to use product iteration to occupy the market.

As educators, we need to consider the following key question: do we use tools, or do we use tools? I think the architecture and design of the whole course is the key to everything. As if the computer has an expansion slot, you can add or replace many extension tools. So, whether it is educational robots, products, or tools, they are like external devices plugged into the expansion slot. These external devices may iterate very quickly, but the most important thing is that we should build a very reasonable structure of the motherboard, which is to build a good STEAM curriculum system.

The small difference in the market products also caused some problems for the teachers, such as too many choices, as well as some choice difficulties and fatigue. After each iteration, teachers need to keep learning new techniques, which can also lead to a sense of burnout.

So, how do we choose the right teaching tool for the STEAM course? I decide myself according to the main body of study (students) and the characteristics of specific courses. We now emphasize personalized learning, so our choice of tools also depends on the needs and circumstances of the individual student. According to the student’s age, psychological characteristics, etc. We want to choose the right teaching tools for them.

Courses with promotion value will be practiced in different schools. How to carry out STEAM courses should also take into account the teaching concepts and educational goals of different schools, which requires school-based improvement and innovation.

NAYTEA Sharon: Thanks for the comprehensive discussion which provide us a great view in different perspectives of STEAM education.

I think this is also the mission of NAYTEA to connect the education innovators to inspire and provide quality education beyond boundaries!

Thanks for all participates, will meet you next time of EduX.

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