Robotics Training Online Course Idea

So our team has traditionally emphasized the formal training of all of our new members, especially our freshmen, and this past year we experimented with an online course teaching them the basics of robotics. As a result, we have a ton of videos explaining programming, mechanics, etc.

Now after signing up for a course on machine learning on coursera, I had a proverbial “light bulb” moment. We could make a course online (using the platform udemy, I’ve used them, and they are pretty good) teaching all of the basics required for FIRST robotics. I foresee this course as a great resources for not only rookie teams, but veteran teams passively instructing new members.

What more, we could make this course a community effort. Different teams can contribute videos about different topics to be added to the course (showcasing their shirts and knowledge in the process).

Does this sound like an interesting idea to anyone, like it could be useful, furthermore, does something like this already exist?

This sounds like a great idea. In my mind this can be expanded in so many ways, and teams can spread a ton of knowledge not limited to engineering but also fundraising, recruiting and more.

Again - this sounds awesome!

This sounds awesome and I would definitely be interested in contributing!

This was my rookie year and I would have loved to have something like this!

We currently have a system where freshman and new members can attend pre-season training classes. This would be a great addition to those courses!

I’m in strong discontentment with this idea. I would have never joined the team if I were required to take an online class before joining. I was never formally trained, I just learned by watching other people work and helping them whenever I needed it. Maybe it works better because our team is an overwhelming 8 students, but it is a much more natural and entertaining way to learn.

Just something to keep in mind. If a majority is still supporting the idea than go for it and let us know how well it works.

I get where you are coming from, I learned from just watching and helping too. However, in my opinion, the watching and learning method is difficult as build season is rushed as it is. Adding learning to that process is why a lot of robots fail (I can speak for my team’s particularly). This is not a tool to replace hands on learning but support it. So maybe you start by introducing prospective members to robotics with these videos so they have an idea of what they are supposed to do in the lab.

This sounds awesome and I would definitely be interested in contributing!

This was my rookie year and I would have loved to have something like this!

I agree, I wish that in my rookie year I knew some of the tricks and skills that I know now. I think this is a way for all teams to share their own tricks with everyone else to truly improve all of our robotics skills

I learned CAD through Google Hangouts. The classes consisted of following along the instructor in what he was doing through screenshare. However, out of everyone who participated, I was the only one who continued on to designing decent gearboxes, drivetrains, etc.

Looking back on that, I’ll have to go with Arhowk partially. This is because I had one idea on teaching CAD, and that was using a method one my physics class used, which was called “flipped teaching”: basically, all the learning happens at home while hands-on and practice activities happen in the classroom. So for CAD, perhaps you can have new members watch online lectures on whatever, and when they come to the robotics room they go hands-on with the CAD software. That way they can get help and feedback from whoever is instructing the class.

Not entirely an online course, but something that involves hands-on activity like the idea I just put out will be more effective in my opinion.

To my knowledge, there is no central portal for FRC tutorial/seminar videos. That being said, there are a ton of amazing series that, put together, cover pretty much everything in FIRST. My personal favorite is the Simbot Seminar Series, including the SolidWords series from last fall. Some other resources that pop into mind are 973’s RAMP channel and the FRC Mastery LabVIEW tutorials. And there’s also the Behind the Lines series produced by GameSense, any recordings from the Championship seminars floating around on the web, the FIRST Fundraising Toolkit, Autodesk’s Built By Design series, etc.

I’m not sure how crucial it is to have a specific Udemy/coursera/EdX dedicated to FRC. I would much, much rather have a convenient, easily accessible portal to access video resources. Trawling around team websites is fun, but also a time sink. It could be as simple as a page filed on the FIRST Resources site (though that is a separate can of worms, given the new site’s navigability).

Absolutely. Applying knowledge is the only way to retain it, and it’s the responsibility of each team to go out and use the knowledge that they learn. I don’t think it should fall on the producing team to also develop a one-size-fits-all curriculum - each team approaches training in a different way. Rather, I’d love to see team publish their training methods as well as their materials.

So, for transparency’s sake: 1912 has an apprenticeship system; build captains and mentors give tasks to other students and provide instruction as necessary. Need to get the chassis rolling? Today you learn how to assemble a gearbox. Time to lay out the control board? Ok, let me show you how to keep wires organized. Pros: You learn very thoroughly, and pretty much every student works on the final robot. Cons: This model does not scale up effectively, and I can see how larger teams would be unable to accommodate this during a tight build season.

This is a great idea. Yes there have been years where my students wanted more hands on training, but more recently they are looking for more structured training.

In the fall we have build leads train the rookies by doing a demo on: filing, sanding, sawing, drilling, deburring, pop-riveting, soldering and wiring. Last year I had the team watch a video with Grant Imahara talking about requirements.

I also agree that forcing students to watch videos might not be the best approach. But if we can create this resource, it would be great to demo something, let students give it a try and for more info have them tune into the FIRST FRC Design Channel.

Would CD be interested in providing space for teams to upload a training video?

Build Mentor

I can create a YouTube Channel called FRC Teach or something and start uploading our videos and take any content that teams wished to share and post it to the channel.

I agree as a reference, this is a good opportunity / resource for teams to pool their knowledge.

I love the idea! If you go through with it let us know. I would set up our preseason training to where each week the new students watch the videos for a specific topic. Then when we meet on Friday, the new students take a small quiz and do an activity utilizing their new skills. One could even structure it to where each activity leads up to a final project. For example, designing a showbot. One week can be design, the next construction, then electronics, and then programming.

I absolutely love this idea! I agree it doesn’t have to be mandatory–different teams have different styles, and they have to decide what works best for them. But to have this available as a resource would be amazing.

Our sophomore team put together presentations at the beginning of the year with some fundamentals about FIRST teams which new students would want to know about (it’s a little disorienting to newbies to hear team numbers and have no idea what those numbers mean) and different functions of different robots, and to help identify basic tools for students who’d had no exposure to this. Then they learned from other teams, and had informal CAD training sessions, etc. It really helped acquaint newcomers with the basics of what to expect from the season, and how they could be hands-on involved right away. We were thinking something like this would be nice for rookie teams–we would have loved that in our first year.

If you start this anytime soon, please let us know right away! I’m thinking it might be nice to show some of the videos/presentations at our Michigan ROBO-CON event this summer.

I’m adding a Free FRC Robotics course to World Mentoring Academy[MOOC], if you would like to champion this course contact [email protected]. World Mentoring Academy has 840 courses from MIT, Stanford, Yale, Khan Academy & other educational programs. WMA also supports 200+ Credit-by-Exam (AP/CLEP, SAT, DSST, NYU-SCPS, TECEP etc). Students can earn College credit & Degrees from Thomas Edison State University example majors BA Computer Science , BA Marketing etc.

Possible Robot team supportive courses @ WMA:

I’m working on a complete FRC/FTC teams directory & map with Youtube, Facebook, teams websites, twitter, instagram, github etc. I’m hoping this will help teams network, get new members w/ outreach. Other Robot, Science Competitions, Makerspaces & events, are also listed at Free

It would be great to see a common resource for training. I would want to be able to give it to my students as an optional enrichment resource and/or select particular videos that I could show students durining a training workshop.

Scenario examples:

  • running a student training workshop and teaching about some common FRC skill or knowledge, like common drivetrains, mechanisms, CAD, strategic robot design, safe operation of a drill press, how does github work. “Let’s all watch this video and then we’ll discuss further”.
  • on-demand instruction of specific skills to students (or mentors!) like how to solder, how to crimp a PWM wire, how to reflash a robot radio. “Let’s watch this quick video and find out how to do this”
  • student comes and says “how can I learn more about X?”, I can give him the link and say “knock yourself out”

I love the idea of FIRST-specific training, and I think there will also be an ongoing variety of general robotics training and courses available online. Just yesterday, I found this awesome-looking intro to mobile robotics offered on Coursera starting July 4:

For those non-FIRST-specific robotics courses, it would be great to just have one place to go where the list of resources is crowd-sourced.