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A Trial of Online “Unplugged” Programming Class in COVID-19 Pandemic

, Osaka University, Japan ; , Osaka Institute of Technology, Japan ; , Osaka Kyoiku University, Japan ; , Toyohashi Sozo University, Japan ; , Osaka Electro-Communication University, Japan ; , Hiroshima International University, Japan

Innovate Learning Summit, in Online, United States ISBN 978-1-939797-59-9 Publisher: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE)


In Japan, programming classes for elementary school students were introduced in 2020. We have been working on unplugged programming using picture cards, which does not require any digital devices, since 2019. In this unplugged programming, a robot played by a teacher completes a hamburger with picture cards after receiving instructions from the children either orally or with instruction cards. There are specifications for the instructions to the robot and its actions, and the robot is designed to be able to understand everything from simple sequential execution to debugging, contrasting each step with the actual programming language. We had planned to develop classes and workshops in 2020 and 2021, however due to COVID-19, face-to-face events were severely restricted and could not be conducted. Therefore, we conducted an experimental unplugged programming class via the Internet for two groups. The first one is a group of 14 university students (ten juniors, four seniors) with and without programming experience, and the second one consists of three elementary school students (two 3rd graders, one 6th grader). The instructor gave instructions via Zoom, and there was only one assistant on the spot. The assistant only distributed and collected the cards, and did not advise participants about the procedure. In both trials, it was apparent that they understood the need for giving clear and precise instructions to the robot, and the concepts of sequence, selection, and repetition.


Kurahasi, M., Ochi, T., Ozaki, T., Imai, M., Shimabuku, M. & Kuramoto, A. (2021). A Trial of Online “Unplugged” Programming Class in COVID-19 Pandemic. In T. Bastiaens (Ed.), Proceedings of Innovate Learning Summit 2021 (pp. 538-543). Online, United States: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved September 29, 2023 from .


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