The Arduino platform is ideal for learning and teaching due to its modular nature, and the array of sensors and kits available meaning you can work through everything from blinking and LED to building a robot as an educational experience, without needing to solder anything.
Where to Begin?
If you are looking to bring the Arduino platform to your classroom, we reccomend you first look around the Arduino Education site, and the catalogue of kits available.
Arduino Catalogue for Education 2020 Arduino Forum: Education
Why Use Visual Micro?
Industry Standard Tools
Using Visual Micro allows for the Arduino development process to develop within an industry standard IDE, Visual Studio, and opens the door to other educational aspects in the development arena such as Version Control (e.g. Git), Cloud Services (e.g. Azure Dev Ops), Automated and Unit Testing (example guide or YouTube Video)... and more!
Scalable Visual UI
Using the Serial Debugger easly show what is happening within a project, or at a specific event, which is essential when delivering to groups of students, and when reviewing the work of a student (whether it be for assessment, or as part of the development and learning process).
You can Visualise all Digital and Analog pins using the Serial Debugger, scaling to your older monitor, or new projector, to deliver a learning or demonstrative experience without crowding around a small board on a desk.
Remote Learning and Assistance
Since COVID-19's impact on the world, being able to work and assist remotely is now part of the essential fabric of a good learning and teaching experience. With Visual Micro you can assist, and support students remotely using the Live Share functionality in Visual Studio.
The Video guide below previews this feature, demonstrating both student/teacher and groups of students can work remotely together in-IDE, without trying to point web cams at monitors to see what is happening.
Calibrate and Analyse
With the Serial Debugging tools, you can easily calibrate sensor thresholds (guide / video) for your project, or show how external factors affect the software and readings, as well as track and trace various aspects of your data in only a few clicks.
The Serial Debugger adds Performance monitoring allows you to monitor the free memory on your board as it runs, and find out how long it took to execute code, to fix issues and demonstrate different effects of coding approaches.
Simple Code and Project Submission
With Visual Micro you can enable the "Always Export Sources to ZIP" and "Always Export Binary" to allow submissions to teachers, and examples to be given to students easily, without needing to delve into the build folders manually.
The output location of the ZIP can also be customised, allowing for all exports to be automatically placed in a shared location if configured on all machines.
Built In Serial Debugger: Execute code step by step on any board with a Serial Interface, and change variables at runtime to allow you to work through the program as a group, and coupled with the above elements mean you can easily deliver everything from showing what is happening with the IO on your project, to demonstrating why a development approach is required when working in the embedded world. This can be an invaliable tool
External Hardware Debuggers: There is also support for many Hardware Debuggers for the more experienced, so there is no need to change toolsets as you advance through education or into industry (find out the differences between debuggers). Some of these are on-board (e.g. Arduino Zero), and others require an external device as demonstrated here (e.g. Arduino Nano 33). These don't currently allow for the Charting and Performance monitoring seen above, but do allow for very low level debugging.
Support for Thousands of Boards
This allows your educational experience to branch into, and join with other areas within your curriculum. For example using the Teensy boards from PJRC you can develop custom MIDI devices, and and perform Audio sampling on chip with some boards, allowing Music and Sound Engineering to bridge directly to these activities.
Features and Help
With continual updates, and forum support, as well as developments still in progress (such as web based dashboards and debugging tools, which can be packaged as portable applications) there is always more being added to allow you to deliver the first class educational experience to individuals and large groups alike.
If you have any Questions about Visual Micro for Teaching, Learning and Education which are not answered here, contact us.