HCT-RAK Colleges’ Educators Win Nikai Award for Innovative Teaching

5 years

The HCT’s 27th Annual Conference saw the HCT-RAK Colleges win an annual Nikai Award for Innovation in Teaching.

Ras Al Khaimah Men’s College (RKMC) faculty member Ian Martin and Jane Chalton from the the RAK Women’s college (RKWC) won the prestigious award for their robot project utilised in Semester 2 of the 2013/14 year. The project was based on a developmental process that focused on key language skills.

“I am honoured by the recognition HCT has given me.  The Robot Project was both challenging and enjoyable and my students worked very hard to succeed at it. At first, they were not all willing to buckle down and put in the effort needed to produce their robots.  But once they started applying their engineering skills, their English skills and their creativity,  their projects came to fruition.  I think they had the most fun at the end, during the robot performance competitions,“ Jane Chalton said when asked about winning the award.

Nikai Award 2

The robot project was based on experiential learning that views knowledge as a social process and where learning takes place through collaboration with others.

In reflecting on this and in winning the award Ian Martin said: “It is a great feeling to win such an award. You always see others winning it and I couldn’t believe that our project was chosen, it was good for RAK and our college. Our project was based around students having to negotiate meanings through collaboration and presenting their language and project as one, a duality of learning.”

The HCT-RAK Colleges robot project 

The six-stage unit took students through a product development cycle. They designed and built a toy robot that could draw on paper using materials commonly found in any home. They then assessed and reviewed its performance for redesign. The project concluded with a reflective task where the students considered design modifications that would be required for the product to be safe for a child to play with. The project directly addressed the following critical areas of learning for the students:

  • authentic and natural practice
  • development of higher order cognitive skills
  • environmental awareness
  • online portfolio/recording tool
  • reflections
  • students work in teams
  • reinforcement of Engineering program principles
  • evaluation of the performance

The Six Stages of the Project

1. Brainstorming the problem

Students research the problem; they must create a robot that can write on paper using household objects. They consider the possibilities and challenges of possible designs. Students record their ideas using the Screencast-O-Matic online recording tool. The team agrees on one design and each member considers the type of drawing/schematic that would be needed to build the model. Each student records justification for the type of drawing he or she selected on Screencast.

2. Drafting

Each team member chooses a drawing type suggested at the end of stage 1 and completes the drawing. The student describes the drawing’s dimensions, labels and materials in Screencast. This results in two or three drawings of the plan ready for the entire group.

3. Build

The team selects one drawing and constructs the prototype of the toy robot based on that design.

4. Test

When completed, the team evaluates the prototype’s performance and reliability using Screencast.

5. Redesign

The team creates an updated redesign of their robot to address weaknesses revealed in the evaluation in Stage 3. Students describe, justify and assess the redesign in a Screencast recording.

6. Reflect

Students describe precautions needed in their robot’s design in order for the toy to be safe for play by a seven-year-old child.

The Project’s Additional Features

  • Cost-effectiveness: Most materials used are inexpensive objects and typically found in the home
  • Replicable: The project requires no special lab or other facility, and can therefore be replicated to any college offering LSC-2123 English for Engineering
  • Assessing performance: Students were assessed on their use of design-specific terms, many of which were provided in a list on the assessment task sheet. Each stage of the design process was recorded and assessed for effective use of the target language at each stage. Students also submitted a 150-word summary describing what they learned from the project