A New Kind of Teacher

What happens when you have a candidate for a teaching position that has unlimited mental capacities, unlimited patience and tolerance, and doesn't even expect a salary? It looks like your average teacher is about to become obsolete, right? Well, perhaps; but, until robotic technologies are perfected, there won't be any replacing. Only aiding.


While robots have been used in the industrial world since the 1960s, robotic technologies didn't hit the educational world until a decade later. An early example of a robotic device, which was a learning toy, was the Texas Instrument's Speak & Spell. It would say a word, and then the child was supposed to spell it out with the built-in keyboard and then the computer would review it. The Speak & Spell would actually tell the child how they did afterward; not bad for 1978! TI Speak & Spell


Artifical intelligence is still being used to educate children at home in the form of games, such as the Leapster by Leap Frog, but there is an influx of actual robots into some classrooms throughout the country. Just like those interactive games, robots are being used to teach basic skills to students. While robots will not be replacing real teachers anytime soon, they will definitely have their place in the classroom. "Researchers say the pace of innovation is such that these machines should begin to learn as they teach, becoming the sort of infinitely patient, highly informed instructors that would be effective in subjects like foreign language or in repetitive therapies used to treat developmental problems like autism" (Carey, Markoff).

This link shows a video that discusses the progress in the technology of robots for education, as well as the adoption of robots into the classroom in South Korea.

South Korea is a very high tech country, and it's not surprising that they should be at the fore front of this implementation. They are also using "telepresence" robots, which are linked to and controlled by humans, whose face will appear on the screen that is the face of the robot. This article is an interview with a senior research engineer in South Korea who is describing the possible positive outcomes of having these robots in the classroom.

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Japan is also experimenting with robots in the classroom, but the developer of their robot called Saya says that "The robot has no intelligence. It has no ability to learn. It has no identity. It is just a tool" (Kageyama).

Link to the rest of the article that explains some of the cons to robots in the classroom

Link to a video that describes Saya and shows her in action!

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