Case Study: Newark School District Uses Virtual Coding and Robotics to Promote SEL

In alignment with 21st-century educational practices, the Newark Board of Education understands that technology strengthens teaching and learning potentials in social-emotional learning (SEL) through the use of multi-media software, virtual reality platforms, data management systems, and video conferencing.

Integrating SEL into both educational technology as well as core content areas can help foster self-directed learning.

The overall process:
  • Seven Elementary/Middle School Counselors (SCs) were selected to participate in a pilot to strengthen SEL practices with students.
  • SCs participated in six after-school trainings with guided support from Eduscape.
  • SCs tapped into out-of-the-box thinking to create and navigate through scenarios utilizing the Photon Robot.
  • Participants were excited to experience how "friendly" coding and robotics was, and were pleased with how much content they mastered throughout the six training sessions.

pre-pilot launch

challenges and concerns

School Counselors (SCs) were both excited and nervous about this pilot.  They were interested in participating in the trainings to learn more about Photon and Virtual Coding. SCs were concerned about not having experience or prior coding knowledge, and 
were uncertain about how coding would act as a supplemental tool to enhance SEL practices.

A constant question was 'Do we have to have high level technology skills to understand the trainings and Photon features?'

During Pilot Launch

School Counselors were impressed with the hands-on training and support from Eduscape Staff assigned to this project. Scaffold trainings and building upon skills each session greatly contributed to increased confidence, understanding coding, and infusion into SEL practices.

  • SCs were ecstatic to witness they were coding by the second training session!
  • SCs took pleasure in seeing how easy it was to code and create realistic SEL scenarios relative to their role with students.
  • SCs enjoyed the level of patience of Eduscape Staff and the tailoring of sessions to meet the needs of the pilot participants.
  • Group work and collaboration through scenario challenges fostered creative and critical thinking skills.
Post-Pilot Launch

School Counselors had an amazing experience learning how to match Photon features with SEL skill development.

Today's session was AWESOME! Each week I become more comfortable with coding Photon which excites me and now that I have a basic understanding of how to incorporate SEL skills....the sky's the limit!

I gained confidence as we went through the training. Promoting or teaching SEL skills goes well with Photon use. You can apply the competencies in many of the functions. You just have to be creative!

  • SCs understand the need to remain open, flexible and creative with integrating Photon into their support services to students.
  • Working with the scenario cards provided an opportunity to view demonstrations differently from each group.
  • SCs were able to differentiate coding and saw the benefits of incorporating Photon as a source for the special education population as well!
  • Students who may experience difficulty expressing themselves would have access to this skill through coding the Photon to turn a specific color, make a certain sound or even travel a different route to express themselves.

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