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Robot Teachers Are the Latest E-Learning Tool

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student with robot

South Korean student Ui-Yeol Yang learning English from a robot during a demonstration at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology.

Credit: Jeffrey R. Young / The Chronicle of Higher Education

Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) researchers are building robots to provide English instruction to schoolchildren. The researchers, led by KIST's Mun Sang Kim, are designing the robots with realistic facial features, arms that enable them to gesture, and sensors so they can keep their distance from students. The robots can teach either by leading students through preprogrammed exercises or by being operated remotely over the Internet. The researchers say the goal is to be able to build robots that are less expensive than hiring teachers from abroad to teach English. "The role of robots will go up steadily, and the role of human teachers will shrink," Kim says.

The brightly colored robots are about three feet tall, display facial expressions as they speak, and have built-in speech recognition technology. The researchers have developed 40 prototypes, which will be placed into service at 18 elementary schools for a three-month pilot test.

From The Chronicle of Higher Education
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