During Summer and Fall 2020, we conducted an international survey on robotics labs and other forms of hands-on teaching during the Covid-19 pandemic, also known as Corona pandemic. The survey covers some overall aspects of the impact of Covid-19 like the change in course formats, e.g., with respect to the use of equipment, the evaluation methods and the performance of students.
Important findings include evidence that there is a potentially long-lasting impact, i.e., that instructors report an expectation of changes to be permanent.
Furthermore, a vast majority of the participants reported a switch to online teaching with hands-on elements. This has among others strong consequences for the used equipment, e.g., simulation environments for use at home emerged as the most important tool for hands-on robotics education, while the use of take-home hardware could not substantially profit from the pandemic, i.e., its use remained on a relatively low level. Interestingly, there is a significant discrepancy between the students’ performance as perceived by the instructors and the actual grades the students achieved. While instructors perceived student engagement, activity, and the quality of their final projects below previous averages, the actual final grades of the students are significantly higher during the pandemic.
A detailed description of the findings is provided in an article in the IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine (RAM), which is Open Access:
A. Birk and D. Simunovic, “Robotics Labs and Other Hands-On Teaching During COVID-19: Change Is Here to Stay?“, in IEEE Robotics & Automation Magazine, doi: 10.1109/MRA.2021.3102979, 2021 (PDF)
The related work received support within the B3 research project “Applied Education in the Digitalization Age (Hands-On 4.0)“.