Imagine a classroom where ‘humanoid robots’ roam about, teaching students how to improve their handwriting or their basic Mathematical concepts. These smart classroom assistants sport a suave, metallic body, working ceaselessly till they have accomplished their duties.
And mind you, they are here to dominate the world of education technology and are cool enough to sweep you off your feet!
Well, the concept of utilizing these intelligent electronic devices dates back to the 1960s when industrial robots, enriched with artificial intelligence, flooded the global markets. Ever since, the global robotics market has been witnessing tremendous growth potential, having ushered in substantial profits in terms of labor productivity.
Riding high on such an overwhelmingly powerful growth scenario, a brand new generation of these digitally controlled appliances is gradually transforming the world of modern education. For, an increasing number of educational institutions across the globe are attempting to investigate the massive competence of these trendy technological products.
Interesting, isn’t it?
You could not dream about robots doubling up as the ‘teacher’s buddy’ in your classroom, till even a few years ago. However, the future seems to have arrived, and it is offering you a chance to welcome it in learning environments of the 21st century!
Can Robots Really be a Part of Modern Classrooms?
Believe it or not, robots are slowly but steadily being embraced in numerous classrooms around the world. Depending on their configurations and technical designs, educators have started to employ several types of robots inside their classrooms.
All these educators share a common goal: to integrate robotic technology in learning processes to make academic lessons more interactive for all kinds of learners.
So, you guessed it right.
Robots, indeed have innumerable applications in the education industry, alongside its utility in various other economic activities. However, a problem still persists. Integrating robotic technology in academic institutes would prove to be exorbitant for most school budgets.
Nevertheless, it is certainly worth the effort.
Nowadays, robots flaunt a contemporary look, being created with a fusion of curriculum-based tools and specific software trained to equip students with diverse learning opportunities. This is one of the major reasons for their growing popularity in secondary schools as well as universities, particularly in the fields of science, technology, and engineering.
How can Robots Assist Teachers in a Classroom?
Now, let us try to gain a deeper insight about how robots can actually assist teachers in a typical classroom setting. And to understand that, you must be familiar with some of the common benefits of using robots in a class.
First of all, you are already aware of the fact that Generation-Y loves technology. Therefore, they would be quite keen to learn about new ideas or topics through the ultra-modern tools of technology, namely robots.
For, they would be able to relate to robots more easily, thereby studying with renewed interest.
Having robots in your class builds problem-solving skills among students. You must have observed how most learners struggle while solving Math problems or completing an answer in any other subject.
It also enables your students to develop their interpersonal skills, including communication and much more. With many schools emphasizing on the significance of personality development, the presence of robots inside a classroom is powerful enough to make your pupils smarter.
Robots would also encourage shy students to be more proactive within classroom environments and urge them to participate more willingly.
Adding the technology of robotics in your lessons would empower you as a teacher. In simpler terms, Math or Engineering courses would turn out to be more productive if robots are used to provide instructions related to these subjects in the class.
It would make your courses much more relevant and interesting if you make room for these artificial, electronic creatures in your sessions.
For instance, students would take greater interests to solve a series of Math problems if the proper working of a robot would signify an accurate answer!
Last but not the least, the presence of robots in an academic ambiance inspires the students to engage in collaborative learning activities. Generally, as teachers, you should make efforts to help your students indulge in a generous amount of team-work through games.
However, introducing robots in your class would ensure that your pupils are actively involved in various kinds of team-building activities in real-world situations.
Similarly, several educators are also trying to identify the best applications for robots in the classroom. Learning about them would enlighten you about some of the most crucial reasons that have triggered numerable educational institutes to adopt these artificial humanoids in their classes.
For, you already know how robots benefit teachers in multiple ways.
#1. Explaining Abstract Concepts
I have met teachers who keep complaining that some of their Computer Science and Engineering students hardly possess basic Math concepts. It is shocking but true. They are incapable of completing graphical problems and equations accurately, thereby end up scoring miserable grades during their exams. In such scenarios, robots can bring in a ray of hope for teachers as well as learners.
Let me elucidate.
Robots are able to modify abstract concepts into simpler, real-world facts that are comparatively easier to comprehend. In fact, these are far better than trying to grasp redundant information or formulae.
This has been motivating several educators to use a special robotic kit designed for teaching Math and Science subjects to students. Such a unique robotic kit comprises several things.
Parts that a robotic kit comprise
Now, teachers use the kit to manipulate the robots into explaining different STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) to their learners. Needless to say, a large number of pupils are displaying progress in the STEM concepts ever since their teachers have started implementing robots in their sessions.
#2. Improving Student Engagement
Although certain schools are making attempts to impart STEM lessons to students with the expert assistance of robots, others are looking further ahead. Since the concept of ‘storytelling’ is accepted by most institutions, many educators are using robots for this very purpose.
To start with, a few teachers develop a story and program it into a robot.
What follows would truly amaze you!
reads the story aloud to the students in the classroom
asks questions to the students based on the story
This increases student participation in the classroom to a significant extent.
On the other hand, a few teachers are also using robots to educate students about some of the most commonly utilized terms in the economic vocabulary, such as ‘expense’, ‘income’ and so on. Generally, in such cases, a robot describes a term without mentioning the term itself. It displays twenty flashcards to the students, out of which they are required to select the appropriate answer.
When the students offered their answers, the robot simply utilized ‘visual recognition’ to ‘read’ those answers! This way the robot was capable of determining if the pupils had answered a particular question correctly, thereby improving student engagement.
#3. Exposing learners to computational thinking:
Do you know why robots are so sought after in the field of education?
Because of their immense creativity.
With the passage of time, educators are hoping to transform student excitement into a strong passion for learning the procedure of programming, developing, and controlling a robot.
Did you know that there exist certain robots that can be controlled merely with swipes on a tablet?
Such robots are usually designed for students aged about five or six years of age, with an aim to arouse in them an interest to develop ‘computational thinking’.
Do you have a clue about this term?
For those of you who don’t, it simply implies the ability to:
break down a particular problem into small portions
analyze each one of them
Basically, it involves the skills associated with problem-solving. Since modern kids are addicted to electronic gadgets, it would be easier for them to learn how to program robots, at least the simpler ones. And once they notice robots sing, dance, or read with a simple command, they would start enjoying the process of programming robots.
#4. Teaching students how to write:
Handwriting is something that plenty of young students falter against. What they require is a good teacher who would guide them with their handwriting lessons, and be patient with their errors. Research has indicated that children seem to learn faster when they teach their newly-acquired skill-sets to others.
Therefore, a group of Swiss researched have devised a humanoid robot. It has been discovered that young students, especially those aged between six and eight, enjoy the process of working with their new ‘robotic’ companion! In this process, students teach handwriting skills to the robot. The robot responds perfectly and, in turn, changes the handwriting of the students for the better.
Yes, it is that innovative!
This robot has been programmed by scientists in a way that it displays the challenges every student has been confronting while trying to practice writing. Therefore, the common handwriting errors made by learners are reflected by the robot. It works by collecting words from a collection of handwriting database when you swipe on the screen of a tablet.
It motivates students to refine their skills and develop a handwriting that’s attractive.
If you are a teacher, you must certainly be knowledgeable about the challenges of educating autistic children. Children diagnosed with this disability are uncomfortable in the presence of human teachers, as the latter tend to lose their patience quickly! However, things have been proven to be drastically different when it comes to robots.
Let me tell you a small story about a school in Birmingham, England. The school, Topcliffe Primary had introduced two humanoid robots named Ben and Max to teach autistic students. The children literally loved interacting with those robots, as they found them much less intimidating as compared to humans. Moreover, the stylish appearance of both the robots appeal to the students, who seem to enjoy spending time with them.
The height of the robots is about knee-length and they move just like children. These humanoid robots are responsible for teaching imitation games, memory games as well as playing cards to the autistic children who are aged between five and ten.
#6. Attending Classes for Students
I bet this would startle you like never before, for now certain robots could help you attend classes at your school even if you are sick!
Let me tell you another story based in Durham, England that would go on to prove how indispensable robots are turning out to be when it comes to education. A seventh grader named Max LaDue had been missing his school for several weeks on account of a painful syndrome.
But, as they say, ‘if you have the will, you have a way’.
Max now attends all his classroom sessions despite his severe illness, thanks to a robotic technology known as ‘VGo’! He is able to be a part of all his classroom discussions and lectures. That’s not all. He can even participate in these events by flashing a light with the aid of his robotic device, whenever he wishes to raise his hand.
Using the VGo technology, he can even walk through his school corridors and enjoy a virtual experience of being present in his school, though he is miles away.
The famous American engineer, Nolan Bushnell had once stated that he just couldn’t imagine a world that would be devoid of robots as he couldn’t wait for the future to quicken its pace.
And, that, my friends is so true.
Technology is growing by leaps and bounds now, and the sky is the limit. So if you are passionate about the smartest form of education, I would suggest you invest your time and resources for introducing the most superior form of robotic technology into your classrooms!
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