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Robotic tutor in the next generation education system

Dr Hafiz Rafique

The methodology of teaching is known as pedagogy. Education is usually divided into different categories such as preschool education, primary education, secondary education, college education and university education. In any type of education, a teacher is of prime importance and plays a pivotal role in the development of a child. However, the performance or capability/ability of the teacher does matter regarding proper, positive and fruitful education. To make education more productive, robot tutors are taking the place of human teachers in the future.

According to a recently published research in a journal namely Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience by Dr. Imbernòn Cuadrado and his co-workers, robot tutors can replace real teachers to some extent in future education. They have developed an integrated computational architecture (ARTIE) at the Department of Artificial Intelligence in Madrid incorporated with software applications to operate robotic tutors in the classrooms. The use of robotic tutors in primary school classrooms could be a step forward in the productive and useful learning outcome because the children’s interest and the motivational level will be enhanced by some special words and gestures of the robot tutor.

The main aim of the research work is to establish a system that would be able to identify the emotional level of primary school children, how they would interact with the robot tutor by means of educational software and how the robot tutor could help improve the learning experience of primary school children.

The research also describes that the children interact with the robot tutor through keystrokes, mouse actions and the educational software involved.

Dr Cuadrado and his team have tried and tested the results of their research by using a commercially available robot MONICA in the classroom. During this exercise, the children enjoyed and they felt more relaxed by learning through a robot and preferred it rather than learning from a normal teacher.

There are some limitations and complications involved in this research due to an enormous and complex range of emotions of a wide variety of the class students. To overcome all these complications, a large number of cameras and microphones are needed. Moreover, there could be a negative impact on the behavior of the students of these robots being non-human.

Education plays a vital role in the development of any nation or individual and it is a process of acquiring knowledge. This process takes place with the assistance of a teacher or a mentor through a number of ways such as lectures, training, and research etc.

Nevertheless, a learner may educate himself on his own by some means for example, by reading books or listening to pre-recorded lectures or electronic gadgets or some online sources.

No matter how advanced the robot tutors will become, in terms of artificial intelligence, teachers do not have to worry about being replaced because the role of these machines would be as support staff instead of being main educators. However, there is much room to expand the role robot tutors in education.

(The writer is Punjab University Physics Department Chairman and Member Syndicate on Associate Professor’s seat. He can be reached at: hafizrafique42b1@hotmail.com)

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