Would you rather learn from a robot teacher or a human teacher?
The use of robots is rapidly becoming more commonplace all around us – in our workplaces, our homes, and soon even in our schools.
Although the use of robots is quite new in the field of education, some experts predict that within the next ten years they will be regularly used in classrooms around the world.
Education is one of the areas of society on which artificial intelligence has the potential to make the most positive impact. As I described in my 2016 book The Future of Higher Education: How Emerging Technologies Will Change Education Forever, AI tutors could help students significantly with their learning processes.
AI tutors could also provide teachers with valuable information about how students learn, as well as recommendations on how to better personalize each student’s learning experience.
Guidelines for Implementing Robots in the Classroom
Robots can be amazingly valuable teaching tools, but it’s important to implement them properly for the best possible results. I would suggest following these four basic guidelines when planning to use robots in the classroom:
- Have a clear objective: Identify the specific learning objective you want the robot to help you to achieve, and then use the robot only for that purpose.
- Use the robots to help with repetitive tasks: Today´s robots are becoming very good at repetitive tasks, which can often be boring and time-consuming for humans. By delegating these types of mundane chores to robots, teachers can focus more of their time and attention on educating their students.
- Make sure children don’t become too attached to the robot: Because children need a lot of human social interaction, it’s important to make sure they understand that the robot is there to help them with learning, rather than as a friend or social companion.
- Follow ethical guidelines: When using robots in the classroom, it is essential to follow proper ethical guidelines. As technology becomes more powerful every day, the role of ethics is becoming increasingly important, and this applies to the use of robots.
Following the above guidelines will help to maximize the benefits for both students and teachers, while ensuring that the robots will not be misused in any way.
Robots in Education – Today
Did you know that several schools all over the world have already started to test the use of robots in the classroom?
For example, in the Finnish city of Tampere, schools have started testing a social teaching robot called Elias, which is mainly used for language and math learning. As having fun is becoming an important element of effective learning, Elias has been programmed to dance, and encourages students to sing and dance as well. Elias can also speak and understand 23 different languages. So far, the testing of this robot has been going very well, with most of the students reacting very positively to it.
Here are some of the benefits that Elias promises to deliver:
- Provides safe and neutral learning environment: Elias will never judge or laugh at anyone for making mistakes. This is especially helpful for kids who are shy or don’t learn as quickly as others, allowing them to focus on learning without any shame or peer pressure.
- Does not get tired of repetition: This robot never runs out of patience, which allows children to feel free to learn at their own speed. Students can take all the time they need to learn something new, making as many attempts to get something right as it takes, and the robot will never make them feel like they are taking too long.
- Asks questions at student’s level: Elias can customize each child’s learning to their own personal level. This is typically quite challenging, even for the most experienced teachers.
- Inspires students to participate: It encourages students to actively participate in learning. This feature is vital, as getting children motivated and engaged helps them to reach their learning objectives much faster.
- Gives feedback to teachers: Elias provides teachers with feedback on each student’s progress, keeping them better informed and allowing them to make the appropriate adjustments. This helps teachers to do their jobs more effectively, which improves the overall learning experience for the students.
In my opinion, Elias represents a good example of the correct way to utilize a robot in the classroom. It adheres to proper pedagogical principals and ethical guidelines while enhancing each student’s learning experience.
In addition, this is just the first version of the Elias robot. Quite probably within a few years it will be able to perfect much more complicated tasks.
This quick video shares well now Elias works:
Robots in Education – Within the Next 10 Years
As artificial intelligence and robotics technologies continue growing exponentially, we will be able to do quite amazing things with the help of robots in the field of education.
According to educational expert Sir Anthony Seldon, within the next ten years teaching robots will be able to read children’s facial expressions, and maybe even their brains, to analyze and adapt to how their learning is proceeding.
Interestingly, some schools in China are already using facial recognition technology that scans students’ faces every 30 seconds and gives teachers feedback on how to improve or better personalize their teaching methods.
In the future, AI tutors and robots will be with students during all the years that they are in school. This, according to Sir Anthony Seldon, will allow the robots to get to know the students very well, better enabling them to provide inspiration, motivation, and personalized learning.
Sir Anthony also believes that within the next ten years, as robots continue to become more effective at teaching, teachers’ roles will become less as educators and more as overseers or mentors.
Within the next seven to ten years, virtual reality headsets will also be widely used in the education process, as they will be inexpensive and provide an immersive experience that can help students to quickly and effectively learn almost anything that can be demonstrated. However, it’s good to keep in mind that children under the age of 18 should not use virtual reality headsets for extended periods of time, as excessive use could possibly interfere with healthy brain development.
As technology will make almost anything possible within the next ten years, it’s important that we continue trying to analyze the long-term effects of its use. We also need to use each new technology responsibly, always following ethical guidelines and standards. Finally, never forget that robots are created to serve humans, not the other way around.