So who’s educating who? Are robots in the classroom educated or being educated? Now that last may seem like a strange comment. Robots being educated? Let’s be a little more specific.
These days both things are taking place in the classroom. Sure it’s hard to imagine a robot being educated, because that seems all turned around from what should be taking place. Right?
Aren’t robots supposed to be used to help educate? Through robotics, skills like programming, construction of robots, science, even math are all being taught with these incredible automated assistants.
So where does the education of robots come in? Teachable Agents (TA’s) is a term used at Vanderbilt University to describe just such technology. Students design what are called “concept maps” to teach their agent. Keep in mind this is a robot we’re talking about.
At this point artificial intelligence, which will be referred to as AI, uses these maps to answer questions. In turn an atmosphere of interactivity, a particular model of thinking and feedback is created.
Now there have been questions raised since the days of electronic calculators, whether this makes the student dependent on the technology and less likely to learn when it is not used.
Studies have clearly shown that not only is this not the case where robotics are used in the course of study, but that it actually prepares the student as a better, more prepared learner.
In the case of TA’s the student forms a caretaker attitude, creating the desire to work harder at providing the correct information for the topic their TA needs in order to respond to all the input correctly.
So the question again is who is teaching who? While it seems at first glance the student becomes the teacher, a broader look realizes it truly is what is referred to as “blended teaching.”
This is taking robotics to levels that may be morphing faster even than cell phones and all things digital. Science fiction has in many cases referred to “plugs” grafted into human brain stems, allowing the uploading of massive amounts of information humanly impossible to receive under normal conditions.
It wouldn’t seem we are headed there with the teachable robots of today. It is interesting to note the trend towards better modes of learning by their use. Robot education seems destined to stay.