Classroom Best Practice  |  

The Need for Quality EdTech PD

Jul 20, 2018

Untapped Professional Learning Opportunities

PD — professional development — can often be a dreaded word in the world of education. Too often teachers have no choice in the training they receive. The workshops tend to be a “one-and-done” approach or a “sit and get,” with little to no concrete ties or application to their current classroom situations. Yet teachers are the models of lifelong learning, so this disconnect is disheartening.

If ever there was a need for high-quality, sustained professional development, it is now, as educators face a perfect storm of factors demanding top performance.

– State of the K-12 Market 2014

A few years ago, the Gates Foundation published a report, Teachers Know Best: Teachers’ Views on Professional Development. They found that 29% of teachers are highly satisfied with their PD offerings and 34% think PD has improved; but where does that leave the other 70% of educators? What opportunities do they have annually? That is an unsettling nonplussed majority. Not surprisingly, the research noted that teachers have little time and little funding to devote to professional learning, yet most are eager for meaningful experiences — meaningful as in relevant, collaborative, interactive, and sustained.

Stats from the Gate’s Foundation’s Teachers Know Best research series (linked above).

Teachers are constantly inundated with new programs and requirements. That’s why the best professional learning starts at the beginning — with the “why” instead of the “how.” Teachers need to understand how new digital tools connect with a broader vision of classroom instruction, and how these tools can help them make meaningful shifts in what they do.

– 3 Essential Ingredients for Making Edtech Work in the Classroom: Leadership, PD, and Ongoing Support

The digital world has many benefits for our busy teachers. Online courses are readily available and can be taken when one has the time and at one’s own pace. Plus, online platforms can be leveraged for collaboration and customization. Teachers have more “voice and choice” in seeking out original and curated content that is of interest. The multimodal experience also makes for a richer learning experience, and many courses are paired with cohorts or online communities for a more connected learning experience. And the data-rich reporting can help support annual evaluation cycle needs.

We at Wonder Workshop delved into all of this research when we first began looking at the idea of developing and designing an online course for our community of educators. We knew the framework had to go beyond product training. Many classroom teachers were asking us the “why” behind the need for computer science. Our generation didn’t grow up with these technologies, like tablets and robots in the classroom. So we took a step back, and looked at the bigger picture of 21st-century teaching and learning. Our first online course, Introduction to Coding and Robotics with Dash & Dot, in our Teach Wonder Professional Learning Program ( is available now!

This first online course for elementary teachers includes learning theory, pedagogical strategies, room and instructional design, plus robots! There are creative activities to engage teachers and inspire them to pass along the learnings to their students. There are opportunities to reflect in FlipGrid, connecting with other Wonder Workshop educators worldwide. You can start the course at any time, and you’ll have three months to complete it. At the end of the 12-hour course, you will receive a certificate that you may be able to apply towards PD hours or CEUs. Take a look at the six two-hour modules, which make up the syllabus:

The online course plus a Dash robot is available at a deeply discounted rate through our growing list of state partners:

More states are being added as partners every week!

Lastly, do check out our archived webinar about The Need for Quality EdTech Professional Development (59:57) to learn more about how we all can continue to push for and highlight quality professional learning experiences:

Check out our other archived webinars on our YouTube channel.

We will be releasing a new online course geared towards middle school teachers this summer, which ties to our latest robot, Cue. Please do visit our Teach Wonder site, and stay tuned!

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Wonder League Robotics Competition FAQ | Year 8

Hello, robotics enthusiasts! If you’re here, you’re probably as excited as we are about the 8th Annual Wonder League Robotics Competition! To help you and your teams have the best possible experience competing this year, we wanted to share answers to some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

Who Can Compete:

Any kid, anywhere in the world, ages 6-8 (Innovator Cup) and 9-12 (Pioneer Cup). There are two age brackets: 6-8 and 9-12 and team members have to fall within the age category at some point during the competition. Participants must be the qualifying age for their bracket on the last day of the competition, but if they gain a year during the competition, that’s OK. They won’t age out! 

Competition Brackets:

  • Innovator Cup (Age 6-8)
  • Pioneer Cup (Age 9-12)

What Makes a Team:

A team is made up of a supervising adult coach, and one or more children (up to 5). That’s right, kids can compete solo, but a coach who is 18+ is needed to help with the submission process. For multi-kid teams, each member must be in the same age bracket. Coaches may have multiple teams and can register all their teams after registering as a coach. Please keep in mind that each team will need a separate Class Connect registration.

Note: Younger students may participate in the 9-12 age category, but please be aware that the missions have been designed with older students and advanced coding skills in mind.

What a Team Needs to Compete:

Class Connect subscription

The team is made up of a supervising adult coach and one to five members

  1. Compatible device
  2. 5′ x 8′ mat of 30cm squares and basic prototyping materials
  3. Teams in 6-8 & 9-12 age brackets will need a Dash robot
  4. Internet access to download and upload materials

Teams will need one Dash robot:

Check Device Compatibility here:

We will be offering a mat image that you are welcome to use and print with your local printer, but teams are absolutely encouraged to make their own if they prefer. For more on how to make your own mat, check out this blog post.

Coaches will, of course, need internet access to download the apps and keep up with the competition as it progresses, and may want to print out some kid-facing materials that we will provide at each stage.

Class Connect Subscription:

To register for the 8th Wonder League Robotics Competition requires a subscription to Class Connect, providing additional resources like standards-aligned content assignable right inside a student’s Blockly app. Learn more about Class Connect here.

If you already have a Class Connect subscription, you have access to register a team, based on your student license amount. If you have more than one team of 5 students, you will need to purchase another Coach Success Pack or consider a larger subscription to accommodate more teams and students.

  1. A Coach Success Pack provides:
    Participation in the WLRC for up to 5 students
    Access to all Missions
    Full access to Class Connect, (including Math Activities and Dash’s Neighborhood), for 5 students and 1 teacher for 7 months
    A discount code for a Dash robot from our online store at

Please note: Teams will need a physical Dash robot to complete the Missions.
The Coaches’ Dashboard in Class Connect will help our coaches register and manage their team(s). The dashboard will be your one-stop shop for all Wonder League Robotics Competition management. You will be able to access the Coaches’ Corner–where all competition-related content and resources will be hosted–the Heartbeat community forum, and all the submission forms right there on the Dashboard.

Accessing Missions for the Innovator Cup and Pioneer Cup:

Once your purchase is completed for Class Connect, you will receive an email to activate your Class Connect license.

Once this license is activated, you will be able to register yourself as a coach and register your teams. This is done on your portal page under the Robotics Competition tab.

Once your team/teams are registered, you will get an additional email from CoAssemble, our partner hosting the missions this year. This email will state you have been registered for the “2022-2023 Coaches Corner Course”.

Click on the link to be redirected to the CoAssemble website, and you will see the course and can access the Coaches’ Corner Guide as well as the Missions (available November 3, 2022).

Still having trouble accessing all the resources in the Coaches’ Corner? If you have previously had a license to Class Connect and registered as a coach, and have not seen Coaches’ Corner added to your CoAssemble list of courses, please email us at, and we will provide assistance.

Last Year’s Missions:

Taking a peek at last year’s missions might help you get a sense of what the competition is like. Just sign in with your Class Connect subscription and register as a coach to take a peek at the previous years by going to the Coaches’ Corner and selecting the desired year.

2022-23 Wonder League Robotics Competition Milestone Dates:

Here are important milestone dates to keep in mind as coaches develop timelines for teams competing in the 2022-23 Wonder League Robotics Competition.


  1. October 21, 2022: Student Team Registration Opens
  2. November 3, 2022: Round One Opens + Five Mission Released
  3. January 13, 2023: Student Team Registration Closes
  4. January 27, 2023: Mission Evidence Submission Closes 
  5. January 28-March 5, 2023: Invitational Round Notification 
  6. February 6, 2023: Invitational Round Opens + Final Mission Released
  7. March 24, 2023: Invitational Round Submission Due 
  8. April 10, 2023: People’s Choice Voting Opens 
  9. April 21, 2023: People’s Choice Voting Closes 
  10. May 4, 2023: 2022-23 Wonder League Robotics Competition Winner Announcement

NEW Award Category: WLRC People’s Choice Award

Teams may opt in to participate in the WLRC People’s Choice Award category by creating a :30 second video explaining the Team’s Invitational Round Final Mission solution that will be shared with the community at in an “online crowd vote” competition. The WLRC People’s Choice Award allows teams to share and celebrate their work in the WLRC and encourage community support in voting for their team. This is an optional category for teams to enter and will not impact scoring of the Invitational Round submission as they will be judged by STEM and Coding experts using a published rubric.

Children’s Privacy:

We take our participants’ privacy very seriously and comply with COPPA when collecting any information. In the invitational round we ask only for the students’ first names, and request parents’ permission. For those that make it into the Invitational Round, we ask for full names, again with permission. We are never marketing, selling to, or corresponding with children. All contact is through the proxy of the coach.