Imagine if R2-D2 had been the one who taught you ABCs. What if your humanoid teacher had snuck out of the classroom and left you with a fully functional instructor made of plastic, metal, and a creepy stuck expression. It may sound crazy, but it may just be a matter of time. Welcome to Classroom 2.0.
Robot Teachers Are Already Teaching Human Students
The New York Times ran a story this weekend about robots that engineers and researchers have designed to replace teachers. They supposedly can even think and feel. Why bother with those pesky human beings when machines can drill the next generation of world-shapers on their time’s tables and spelling bees. The University of Southern California (my alma mater — should I be proud or ashamed?) is testing out their three-foot, eye contact-making, hand waving robot designed to engage with a young autistic boy. Educators at MIT and University of California Santa Barbara are also sending automated instructors into the classroom (kindergarten and preschool, respectively … preschool Finnish lessons, to be specific). Some teacher bots even cry if kids yank on their “arms.” Kind of creepy/sophisticated right?
Caroline Walker is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer and editor. She has worked in both the entertainment and the nonprofit sector. Walker holds a BA from the University of Southern California and an MA from New York University’s Gallatin School.