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Thu Apr 11, 2013, 11:39 AM

WSJ: When a teacher is 2 feet tall (robots in education)

Scientists raised on "The Jetsons" and "Astro Boy" have theorized for decades that robots would make the perfect helper and companion. Now a handful of public schools in the U.S. are putting that idea to the test.

This year, robots will be teaching everything from math to vocabulary to nutrition inside classrooms in California and New York, a move the researchers call a first in American education.

The Los Angeles experiment, scheduled to start later this spring, will use a robotic "dragon" to teach first-graders about healthy lifestyle habits. Students will help show the robot how to prepare for a race; the hope is that by sharing tips with the dragon, they take their own lessons to heart.

The robot in the Los Angeles trial costs about $5,500 when stylish touches such as fur, feet and wings are added. The effort is the first of several robot experiments planned and is backed by a five-year, $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation. It will be conducted by a coalition of researchers from Yale University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Southern California and Stanford University.

Researchers see the classroom robots not as replacements for teachers but as whimsical assistants programmed to push kids' buttons. But some see the mechanization as the latest example of technology undermining the importance of human connections in the classroom.


Forgot link: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323820304578410730962208740.html
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Reply WSJ: When a teacher is 2 feet tall (robots in education) (Original post)
antigop Apr 2013 OP
DetlefK Apr 2013 #1
dballance Apr 2013 #2
LWolf Apr 2013 #3
Smarmie Doofus Apr 2013 #4

Response to antigop (Original post)

Thu Apr 11, 2013, 12:10 PM

1. Sure. Lie to kids and fill their mind with bullshit. What could go wrong?

Subjecting children to something that unrealistic like a talking plush-dragon will first skew their view of reality, by delivering falsified data, and latter shatter it:
"No, that dragon isn't your friend. He's not real. We lied to you. But you can totally believe what that thing told you."

A kid that found out that it has successfully been duped and lied to, and that the adults continue lying to other kids as a natural habit, will surely accept the moral lesson that lying and trickery are wrong.

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Response to DetlefK (Reply #1)

Thu Apr 11, 2013, 12:16 PM

2. I think the horse already left the barn

 

Given Santa, the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, etc. We're already proving to them adults are full of crap.

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Response to antigop (Original post)

Fri Apr 12, 2013, 08:59 AM

3. I see difficulties.

To think that a machine can diagnose where and why a child is not "getting" something and then address that specific need is simply beyond my own ability, at this point, to believe.

I'll bet that kids would love to have a robot helping them, though. I work really hard to create a safe environment where every student feels like it's okay to ask questions, to get help. Except the few who simply cannot let go of the idea that asking for help somehow makes one stand out as "not smart," even when they see some of the brightest, quickest learners in the room aggressively chasing the teacher down with questions. I'll bet those kids would take help from a robot, though. In my classes, there are always too many kids and too little time to give everyone all the one-on-one help they need. I do my best, but I can't get to everyone every time. Some extra help would be great. I'd prefer living, breathing, thinking help, but I'm sure the kids, at least in the beginning, would be thrilled with robots.

The cost, though? The initial cost, plus the cost of maintenance and repair...and there would be repairs. Kids are hard on things. How many robots are you going to put in a classroom of 32? How many hours of live help, and how many jobs, would that provide?

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Response to antigop (Original post)

Sun Apr 14, 2013, 09:23 AM

4. "a : a machine that looks like a human being and performs various complex acts (as walking or ....

 

Robot: a : a machine that looks like a human being and performs various complex acts (as walking or talking) of a human being; also : a similar but fictional machine whose lack of capacity for human emotions is often emphasized.
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/robot

Robots have been involved in education for some time now. They're called "administrators."

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