Integrating coding and Machine Learning in Elementary Education

This longitudinal study comes from 2016 until 2021. In the 1º Phase: Coding in Elementary School (2016-2019) the researches we published in prestigious journals [1] [2] [3] [4] demonstrated that coding is effective when integrated properly in subjects (math, Science and arts) providing logic, computational concepts, and enabling working actively with projects. We worked with 198 students in these years. We highlighted the importance of an educational design that includes Visual Programming Language programming to understand the elements of logic, mathematics and arts, which brings significant improvements. Understanding of computational concepts, active approach, Project Based Learning, usefulness motivation, and commitment underline the importance and effectiveness of implementing visual programming from active methodologies in elementary education. In the 2º Phase: Machine Learning in Elementary School (2019-2021) we continue working with visual block programming languages, using the tool “Machine Learning for Kids” (created by Dale Lane). We try to demonstrate that students can learn and improve their skills understanding Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence with basic and active approaches. In this 2º phase we try to demonstrate de benefits of integrating Machine Learning in elementary school, comparing a correlation with the aforementioned benefits of coding, demonstrated with significant results in the 1º phase.

[1] Sáez-López, J.M., Román-González, M. y Vázquez-Cano, E. (2016). Visual programming languages integrated across the curriculum in elementary school. A two year case study using scratch in five schools. Computers & Education, 97, 129-141 .

[2] Sáez-López, J. M.  & Sevillano-García, M. L. & Vázquez-Cano, E. (2019).  The effect of programming on primary school students’ mathematical and scientific understanding: educational use of mBot. Educational Technology Research and Development. Preprint.

[3] Sáez-López, J. M.  & Sevillano-García, M. L. (2017). Sensors, programming and devices in art education sessions. One case in the context of primary education. Culture and Education, 29(2), 350-384

 [4] Sáez-López, J.M. y Cózar, R. (2017). Programación visual por bloques en Educación Primaria: Aprendiendo y creando contenidos en Ciencias Sociales. Revista Complutense de Educación, 28(2), 409-426.

Specific objectives

  • To understand the importance and benefits of coding and Machine Learning in Elementary Education.
  • To analyze the integration of  visual block programming languages in subjects: Maths, science, and arts
  • To evaluate the implementation of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence in Primary School with active pedagogical methods.
  • To compare correlation and evidence between the benefits of coding and Machine Learning analyzing the feasibility of their integration in Elementary School


Dr Jose-Manuel Sáez-López is Professor at the Department of Teaching in the School of Education at National University of Distance Education (Spain). [ORCID:].  He holds a doctorate in Educational Models and ICT from UNED. His scientific and academic work has been published in 42 peer-reviewed journals. His research lines are the integration of educational technology in learning processes, coding in school, gamification, virtual learning environments, the educational use of interactive video conferencing, methodological strategies and the academic use of Open Access. He is accredited as a “Associated professor// civil servant” by ANECA, the National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation of Spain. He has been recognized as a Microsoft Expert Educator 2014 and Microsoft Innovative Expert 2015.