Extra – Background to this Course Methodology

Our Pedagogic Approach

Knowledge needed before starting this course.

This course is aimed at absolute beginners who have had no previous experience building LEGO robots, and/or no previous experience using a computer language. The course does assume a basic familiarity with the operation of a Windows computer.

LEGO’s EV3 Home Edition set, or LEGO’s EV3 Education Set?

You will need access to a LEGO MindStorms EV3 set. There are two types of EV3 sets, Home and Education. Our course is designed to be compatible with both these sets.
Because LEGO supplies different physical building components in each of these sets. In some cases we have to have alternative robot builds for the home and education sets. Because LEGO also supplies different sensors in each set, in some cases the exercises are different for robots using the different sensors. It should be noted that if you want to add the “missing” physical building components and sensors supplied for the other set, to your set, the “missing” components are available for individual purchase from on-line stores. The biggest on-line store is probably www.bricklink.com (search in bricklink’s search box for EV3).

Windows or Apple?

The examples shown in our course use a mix of Windows 7 and Windows 10 operating systems in the background of the tutorials.
The examples in this course have been run on Apple computers in a University computer laboratory using Windows 8 installed on Apple computers using Apple’s Boot Camp software. The only issues we faced were a few minor ones caused by the Apple keyboards using a few differently labeled keys. We have not used Parallels Desktop 7, VMware Fusion or Virtual Box, so can not comment on these packages. However for the sake of completeness, we have to state that our course is not specifically designed to run on Apple computers (even though it seems to).

What kind of computing course is this?

Courses which include a computing component tend to fall into one of three broad categories. They tend to be either student centered, syllabus centered, or language centered.

Student-centered courses.

This course is aimed to be a student-centered course for the LEGO MindStorms EV3 robot and it’s free programming language EV3-G.
Student-centered courses are courses specifically aimed at facilitating student learning through interaction. Ideally, the knowledge that students need to have before starting the course is carefully defined. This type of course then proceeds in gentle steps, making sure that any required new knowledge is reinforced by practice, followed by some form of “Challenge”, the solving of which reinforces the new knowledge just presented. Often it is required that the student show a certain level of competency on this test or challenge before the student is allowed to proceed to the next step. If the course is an on-line well-structured course, it may be possible for students to usefully work through the course without specific teacher or mentor guidance.

Syllabus-centered courses.

Our course may cover some areas of the various syllabi, but it is not specifically designed to do so.
Syllabus-centered courses are courses designed to fulfill the requirements of a certain type of predefined syllabus. This syllabus is often defined by some central body, often a governmental body. Since our EV3 tutorials have been used by students from 182 of the 189 countries included in Google’s reports, we abandoned any attempt to cover specific in-country officially-approved syllabi. It was simply too much work.

If you are looking for such a course for the LEGO MindStorms EV3 robot using EV3-G, then commercial courses such as Carnegie Mellon’s course sold through its American commercial spin-off RoboMatter, may well fulfill your need. The course sold through RoboMatter attempts to take account of such standards as the next-generation science standards, computational thinking practices, common core maths practices, computer science student teachers association suggestions, and so on. However this course only covers criteria specific to some American requirements. You will have to look elsewhere for courses specific to other country requirements.

Language-centered courses.

Our course covers some of the computer language EV3-G, but is not designed to be comprehensive.
Language-centered courses are generally designed to comprehensively teach every aspect of a computer language. The better ones cover every jot and tittle, every nook and cranny, of the computer language they aim to explain, the best including numerous explanatory examples.

If you’re interested in this type of language course for EV3-G, it may be worth subscribing to www.Lynda.com, and watching Olivia Stone’s “Learning Lego MindStorms” that covers the Home Edition of LEGO’s EV3-G language. Note that LEGO has a second, extended, version of the EV3-G language which is initially supplied with the EV3 education set. Olivia’s tutorials are not designed specifically for this extended version of the EV3-G language supplied with LEGO’s EV3 education kit, but she does seem to cover much of the material that is common to both versions of EV3-G.