Let’s Welcome Robots into the Classroom

 

An exclusive school in Abu Dhabi is hiring a new kind of teacher this school year:

Merryland International School in Mussafah has launched what it claims is the first robotic lab in a UAE school, with more than 30 cutting edge robots including humanoids with built-in intelligence.

Humanoid AISOY Raspberry Pi robot will teach basic addition and subtraction while Nao, the 57-cm tall Evolution Humanoid robot from France, will help special needs children.

Nao can walk, talk and even recognise emotions. The programmable robot can also be used to explore research topics in robotics, computer science, human-machine interaction and even social sciences.

Then there is the Genibo Robot Dog which falls asleep if the students are not attentive.

“I have sourced out some of the best and most advanced robots including humanoids, quadrupeds, hexapods, flying robots and pet robots from all over the world,” Susheela George, Founder of Merryland, told XPRESS.

Sounds like Act I of a Terminator prequel. But for Merryland, the robots are no gimmick. The private institution is accredited by Cambridge University and has won several awards for academic excellence. The school’s founder wants to pique her students’ interest in science and technology, so why not integrate them directly into the classroom?

Robots are just the latest innovation in the tech revolution that is transforming K-12 education. Tools such as tutoring web sites, teaching software, educational apps, and online adaptive testing and instruction make up the growing field of Digital Learning.

This isn’t a matter of handing out free iPads or helping third-world villages to download YouTube cat videos. Instead, digital learning can accelerate learning through ease of access, limitless “class” size, and a system of rewards and motivators that can be individually attuned to each student.

You can download seminars from the world’s finest universities at iTunes, get tutoring on your tougher subjects from Khan Academy, or take complete courses at Udacity. Digital learning’s flexibility brings tremendous advantages to kids with learning disabilities, those trapped in failing school districts, or kids in remote areas who don’t have a choice of schools to attend.

Even better, this revolution doesn’t require a vast infusion of extra spending on personnel and infrastructure. Many of the best options are offered to students free of charge. According to Herbert Walberg and Joseph Bast of the Heartland Institute, digital learning can deliver the “creative destruction” needed to dramatically improve America’s K-12 system.

Research shows substantial positive achievement effects of online education in pre-internet days and larger effects in recent years. More advanced technologies used on a much wider scale promise even larger achievement effects, lower costs, and a greater variety of incentives, curricula, and teaching methods from which parents, students, and educators can choose. Obstacles in the path to increased use of digital learning can be removed by parents and policymakers working together to adopt the policies recommended by pioneering leaders in the field, the Digital Learning Council, and other groups supporting this disruptive innovation – which will likely lead to far more effective education.

Technology-driven improvements are another reason America needs to embrace a school choice mentality. Our traditional system of top-heavy school districts and recalcitrant teachers unions no longer educates students to their potential. And if a robot can one day achieve better results than a tutor, why not give it a try?

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  1. user_554634 Moderator
    user_554634
    @MikeRapkoch

    My kids always had robots teaching them.

    • #1
  2. Casey Member
    Casey
    @Casey

    No robot will ever replace Ms. Banyasz.

    • #2
  3. Casey Member
    Casey
    @Casey

    I recall an episode of Charlie Rose – The Brain Series – where they showed an experiment where some babies sat in front of a woman speaking Mandarin and others were put in front of a TV with the same woman speaking Mandarin.  After some time of this, the babies with the live person recognized Mandarin words and sounds and reacted.  The babies with the TV – nothing.

    The theory was that there was something about live, 3D facial recognition that aided learning.  I think there’s probably something to that.

    • #3
  4. St. Salieri Member
    St. Salieri
    @

    Perhaps because at some point, maybe we should not replace human beings with machines.  Maybe, and maybe that day is soon, we will live to regret this.

    • #4
  5. user_86050 Inactive
    user_86050
    @KCMulville

    I don’t know about the robots … but innovations in education are long past due. It’s a teacher’s union racket right now. 

    I’m an ex-Jesuit, and the Jesuits are neck-deep in education, so you’d think I’d be a big supporter. But the whole education system is one dysfunction after another. It costs a fortune already, and the costs are growing … and yet the end product is less and less useful. I’m kind of disgusted with the whole enterprise right now.

    • #5
  6. user_199279 Coolidge
    user_199279
    @ChrisCampion

    Casey:

    I recall an episode of Charlie Rose – The Brain Series – where they showed an experiment where some babies sat in front of a woman speaking Mandarin and others were put in front of a TV with the same woman speaking Mandarin. After some time of this, the babies with the live person recognized Mandarin words and sounds and reacted. The babies with the TV – nothing.

    The theory was that there was something about live, 3D facial recognition that aided learning. I think there’s probably something to that.

     There is something to that – but it might not have to do with learning or cognition for 5, 8, or 16 year-olds.  Keep that in mind.

    I’m already far too invested in worshipping our sleek ocean overlords to consider switching to robot worshipping, anyway.  Although I have to admire the robots’ inherent sleekness.

    ocean overlord

    • #6
  7. Pilli Inactive
    Pilli
    @Pilli

    “Obstacles in the path to increased use of digital learning can be removed by parents and policymakers working together to adopt the policies recommended by pioneering leaders in the field,”

    The “pioneering leaders in the field” gave us the educational system we now have…see Common Core, etc.  The problem is that they never see their failures.  (Kind of like Socialists.)

    School choice is the true answer to education reform.  The market will lead us to an educational model that works for everyone.

    • #7
  8. Casey Member
    Casey
    @Casey

    Chris Campion: There is something to that – but it might not have to do with learning or cognition for 5, 8, or 16 year-olds.  Keep that in mind.

     True.  I recall the researchers saying as much on the program.  But I’ve also seen things like brain scans of adults while watching TV vs using computer vs reading a book.  TV brain activity was almost zero, computer a little, and reading a ton. The point simply being that there’s a lot more happening in the brain, when truly learning,  than just accepting information. 

    I guess we can think of it like throwing a football. Throwing through a tire is not the same as throwing to a person which is not the same as throwing to a person in a game. 

    I suspect technology works really well as a tire but can never replace the critical social element needed for true learning. 

    • #8
  9. Freesmith Inactive
    Freesmith
    @Freesmith

    If you like it, just do it.

    Keep das regime out of your plans.

    • #9
  10. user_199279 Coolidge
    user_199279
    @ChrisCampion

    Casey:

    Chris Campion: There is something to that – but it might not have to do with learning or cognition for 5, 8, or 16 year-olds. Keep that in mind.

    True. I recall the researchers saying as much on the program. But I’ve also seen things like brain scans of adults while watching TV vs using computer vs reading a book. TV brain activity was almost zero, computer a little, and reading a ton. The point simply being that there’s a lot more happening in the brain, when truly learning, than just accepting information.

    I guess we can think of it like throwing a football. Throwing through a tire is not the same as throwing to a person which is not the same as throwing to a person in a game.

     Absolutely true – but both of those exercises involve repetitive motion.  No QB throws through a tire all day, they throw to to receivers all day.  They don’t get freakishly accurate in hitting a runner going full-tilt because they’re really great fellas.  They get it because they put the reps in.

    We’re telling kids not to put reps in.  Not a good idea.

    • #10

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