June 11, 2021

Behind the Scenes: Curriculum Design in the Robot Training Academy

In this post, rel8ed.to Research Analyst Lee Doucet offers a behind the scenes look at how we’ve designed the Robot Training Academy. Lee is responsible for managing our new Robot Training Academy, a training program offering micro-credentials in Data Processing and Data Understanding.

Behind the scenes:

Every day the Robot Training Academy (RTA) team focuses on answering the question of: how can we deliver the most worthwhile experience to our students this summer?

The goal of the Robot Training Academy is to avoid what has traditionally been called “passive learning” i.e. lecturing students, expecting them to absorb information, and then examining them.

Instead, we are focusing our curriculum primarily on experiential learning – engaging students in real, work projects that they can actively participate in, reflect on, and learn through. For those who are unfamiliar, the Association of Experiential Education defines experiential learning as:

a teaching philosophy that informs many methodologies in which educators purposefully engage with learners in direct experience and focused reflection in order to increase knowledge, develop skills, clarify values, and develop people's capacity to contribute to their communities.

There will be some teaching and training time, approximately an hour per workshop. But the ultimate goal is for students to learn as they are performing the actual work of data processing, analyzing, and understanding. Students will participate in current business projects, so that they can see in real-time how their work, decisions, and tasks have very real effects on business solutions.

How the rel8ed.to team is supporting the RTA:

The Robot Training Academy is a team effort because it will involve students directly in our business functions. Here’s a peek into how we’re working as a team to design the curriculum:

  • Each morning during our morning team meetings we discuss the RTA and what projects might be applicable for our students.
  • We then assess whether the project is a good fit by looking at our curriculum outline and considering how they support important learning goals and data topics (such as coding with Python or classification of entities). Projects are designed to support each of these key learning outcomes for students.
  • Connecting current projects to the classroom can be more difficult than it seems because projects may require more than an hour of training and instructor guidance before students can delve in. We’re also remaining cognizant of assumptions regarding students’ base knowledge in data.
  • In fact – without giving too much away – for some of our projects we have developed tools that allow people to work without a coding background or much data experience. To help make this happen, we've brought in a user experience designer to ensure we have both an attractive and easy to understand user interface in our tools. I don’t want to spoil the team’s hard work just yet but let’s just say we will have some exciting announcements on our new tools soon!

For those more technically minded, don’t fret! We have more coding-based projects where you can hone your skills. This is part of what we are trying to accomplish here, having projects for every skill level and in support of student centered learning!

Click here to learn more about the Robot Training Academy and enroll.

A bit about Lee Doucet, Research Analyst at rel8ed.to

I have a Master of Information from the University of Toronto. If you asked me to define what that means, which is a common question, all I can say is that it’s complicated! The first lecture given to our cohort at the iSchool told us there was no one way to define information and that it is always evolving.

Less than a year ago I left my home of Toronto to move to the Florida of Ontario, Windsor. It was quite the culture shock going from the 4th largest city in North America to Windsor but the bigger open spaces and virtually no traffic in comparison has made it worthwhile.

When I am not working, I am bicycling on the trails with my family and chasing after my dog in our backyard who is a notorious shoe thief. For fun I also like to engage in community orientated projects when I have the time. Currently I am researching remote workers who left Toronto to help the University of Toronto better understand the impact of the pandemic on their city.

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