A couple of researchers over at the University of Wisconsin-Madison called Bilge Mutlu and Dan Szafir have been messing about with a Wakamaru humanoid robot to work in such a way that it can deliver information and at the same time, maintain a student’s retention capability. The duo has experimented with various techniques human teachers use to keep their students focused such as changing the pitch or tone of their voice, gesturing at objects and engaging with the audience.
To confirm the robot’s capabilities the research team performed an experiment with a focus group of students with EEG sensors and with two stories, one with the added engagement tools and one being a bland and plain version, Mutlu and Szafir confirmed that the robot could replicate the engagement level that can be maintained by human teachers with a test of the students about how much of the stories they could remember along with their EEG levels.
Andrew Ng, Director of Stanford University’s Artificial Intelligence Lab in California and co-founder of online classroom Coursera said, “The idea of recapturing students’ fading attention in this way would have significant implications for the field of education. One-on-one tutoring has been repeatedly shown to give dramatic results in student learning, but the main problem with it is with the cost and that it’s just difficult to scale. The vision of automatically measuring student engagement so as to build a more interactive teacher is very exciting.”
While this creation seems very interesting, I remember the only reason I was focused in class during school, was when the teacher walked around with a very long and scary wooden ruler, but then again, I’m old.