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Your digital tech classroom assistants!

Issue: Volume 96, Number 21

Posted: 09:00am, 27 Nov 2017
Reference #: 1H9gWE

TubeTorials is a YouTube-based online learning environment for students, teachers, and parents, which can help everybody to learn 3D design and printing software TinkerCad, coding with Scratch and Scratch Jr., stop motion animation and robotics. The brains behind this operation? Two brothers aged 12 and 14.

Brothers Simon (left) and Aidan Alexander, creators of Roboclub Tubetorials.

In 2015 Simon Alexander, aged 14, needed to find a solution to the problem of teaching a group of children the free 3D design and 3D printing software TinkerCad.

Because he’d used YouTube tutorials to learn various software packages himself, he had a solid understanding of what works and what doesn’t. Millions of young people all over the world learn how to explore worlds, fight dragons, and build robots (to name just a couple of things) in exactly this way – by finding someone online with the knowledge who steps them through a learning journey using video tutorials.

Simon understood that the reason this approach appeals to so many young people is that it’s fun, it can be pursued in one’s own time, and you have a learning companion to take you where you want to go, who can likely help you shortcut a lot of mistakes you might have otherwise made.

Since the beginning of 2016, Simon has been joined by his brother Aidan, 12, and together they’ve built the website roboclubtubetorials.com as a showcase for their many YouTube videos.

What the boys have since realised is that these videos can be just as helpful for teachers and parents as they are for the students.

Because they know how engage to their peers, Simon and Aidan have aimed to become every teacher’s digital technology classroom assistants. Their mantra, say the boys, is ‘watch, learn, create’.

The other issue that Simon and Aidan feel they can help teachers with is the fact that students inevitably learn at different speeds. Simon and Aidan’s videos allow students to work independently, at their own pace, and at a level that they feel comfortable with.

Simon says that they choose learning topics to create video tutorial programmes according to curriculum learning areas, and what they know will interest their peers. Both started learning things like coding at a very early age, and want to pass on their knowledge to students who are just setting out with digital technology.

Each video learning programme begins with an outline of the topic, and progresses one step at a time. Crucial to the learning is that the videos pose challenges to participants, who create something when they’ve finished learning about a particular skill. These challenges also have ‘walk-throughs’, for those who might get stuck.

TubeTorials has been trialed across Auckland with Auckland Libraries and several schools. Simon and Aidan report that they’ve received heaps of positive feedback, such as the comment that their learning programmes are tailored to fit the themes that teachers need to cover. And the word is getting out there: Aidan admits to surprise when, at a recent rugby tournament, he was greeted by students he had never met; in fact, he’d been teaching them various software packages all year!

Simon says that they’re trying to connect more young people to digital technology, and want to encourage teachers to use the resources they’ve created.

“Great learning is fun and exciting, and reaches kids at their level, allowing everybody to get lost in the learning. Digital technology shouldn’t be a textbook exercise, but children teaching children in a new way. We want to share our passion for digital technology across New Zealand, and we’re keen to develop new challenges and programmes.”

Where to from here?

TubeTorials is now taking on a life of its own. After the boys presented to more than 100 teachers at uLearn17, they’ve now been invited to present at two international education conferences in Australia: EduTech in Sydney, and National Future Schools in Melbourne.

The boys say that they’re focused on creating videos of improving quality in the future too, which means better use of cameras, making the content more accessible, and having more confidence in engaging with the camera.

You can find out more information about TubeTorials at roboclubtubetorials.com

There is no charge to register as an individual user, but from Easter 2018 there will a $1 per student charge for schools so the boys can cover their costs.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

The Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero is produced by NZME for the Ministry of Education for teachers, leaders, and other education professionals working in New Zealand.

Posted: 09:11am, 27 November 2017

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