If you lived 50 years ago and heard the word “robot”, probably you would imagine an iron man with square head from a fantastic fiction. However, today robots evoke much less surprising, because they appear in increasing frequency on TV or in our friends’ house, performing duties of nannies or cleaners. A lot of robots these days also play role of teachers, being a guide between students and a human teacher, sitting on another part of the continent; others work as teacher assistants, presenting independent artificial intellect, which is very similar to human ones. This poses the question: how can we benefit from teacher-robots work?
This certainly depends on a country and its situation in the pool of educational specialists, but teacher-robots can be helpful if there is a scarce of quality human teachers. The example of South Korea, where is a major paucity of English teachers, illustrates that to hire a foreign teacher for a year costs twice more expensive than to create a robot and hire a foreign teacher to work with it remotely (Strother, 2011). This economy of money is related not only to school budget but also to parents’ savings, because many South Korean families need to bring their children to private academies which have English teachers and spend thousands of dollars a year on their education (Strother, 2011).
According to the Lattitude’s study teacher-robots elicit children’s association of having fun in the process of teaching; robots foster children’s motivation to tackle with routine and boring tasks, kindling their interest only with robots’ physical presence. Children, mixing learning and play, see robots as their friends who support them and amuse, which leads to children’s stronger aspiration to gain knowledge.
Surprisingly, some robots are very successful in helping to teach children with autism. Robot Nao in England has already had such experience. It assists a class teacher with daily tasks, while providing children with autism special support, such as educational games on verbal and non-verbal interactions, understanding of emotions and gaining basic knowledge. According to several studies (as cited in Falconer, 2013) autists, if Nao is present in class, can increase their social interactions with other children, their parents and therapists on 30 percent. Not feeling inconvenience or awkwardness, Nao teach children unbiased, “without setting off a chain of unsuccessful social interactions” (Powell, 2014).
Nevertheless, because robots are actionpacked creations, they, in my opinion, ideally should work only as teachers’ supporters or assistants. Not the main teachers in class. Robots can help and facilitate teachers’ work but can’t replace their alive colleagues, who can provide real human communication, vivid emotions and leadership features. At the same time robots may turn learning to playing and enliven a familiar lesson, that’s why probably it is time to think about ordering some Naos or any other robot in Kazakhstani schools.
P.S. I am really interested what YOU THINK about having robots in Kazakhstani schools.
Falconer, J. (2013). Nao Robot Goes to School to Help Kids With Autism. IEEE SPECTRUM. Retrieved from http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/humanoids/aldebaran-robotics-nao-robot-autism-solution-for-kids
Powell, M. (2014). Robot Teachers in the Classroom. Innovation Everywhere. Retrieved from http://iq.intel.com/robot-teachers-in-the-classroom/
Strother, J. (2011). South Korean Students Learn English from Robot Teacher. Voice of America. Retrieved from http://www.voanews.com/content/south-korean-students-learn-english-from-robot-teacher-117640783/167151.html