Middle ground: Telepresence Teachers

October 25, 2010 at 10:57 am 1 comment

In the post with Dave Patterson, there was strong interest in creating educational software for teaching computing, rather than trying to ramp up teacher education, because of the difficulties of the latter.  Here’s an interesting middle ground: Telepresence teachers.  Doesn’t require new kinds of software.  Doesn’t save teacher time, but does allow for a limited number of teachers to cover a wider geographic area.  I think that the robot shell may play a role here — lecture and whole-class discussion are economically efficient, and may be less stressful on the teacher than managing on-line discussions.

Thirty-six Engkeys are due to be implemented in 18 elementary schools across the Korean city of Daegu by the end of this year, according to KIST.

The Engkey is linked to and controlled remotely by a human teacher outside the classroom, whose face appears on the screen of the robot. The robot links students to teachers located as far away as Australia.

Besides being popular with children, the telepresence robot also helps address South Korea’s shortage of qualified native-English speaking teachers, Choi said.

via Robot teachers invade South Korean classrooms – CNN.com.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Alan Kay  |  October 25, 2010 at 11:19 am

    Generally missing what teachers can do best.

    One of the big points of “next gen good computer tutor/mentor/teachers” (if they could indeed be made), is that it has been shown conclusively that just having a better teacher-student ratio is hugely effective, and that 1:1 is ideal for many important learning situations.

    If this could be combined with “better than no teacher, better than a bad teacher, doing some of the things good teachers can do” then this will be extremely important in improving matters, particularly in many parts of STEM.

    I think of this as not so much as an anthropomorphic AI UI but as the next logical qualitative step after what well written books do for a learner, and what being able to print millions of them can do for a society.




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