Posted by: robotnews | April 2, 2007

Teacher’s Little Helpers

The children learn from RUBI and play with QRIO. However, they are not your normal teachers and playmates. RUBU, Robot Using Bayesian Inference, and QRIO, whose names stands for Quest for Curiosity, are developing robots created by the Machine Perception Laboratory at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and Sony Corporation respectively. Meant as a research platform for the advancement in the field of real-time, social robotics and uses of interactive computers in educational environments, they are attending the Early Childhood Education Center (ECEC) Classroom 1 at UCSD as part of a long-term research study.
Soft, warm and pleasantly plump RUBI, has 2 cameras for eyes and a third omni-directional camera for peripheral vision. In addition to 5 high-powered CPUs in her body, she learns by communicating through an antenna on her back with another 24 CPUs. RUBI is able to track heads and detect faces and basic expressions and as the assistant teacher, teaches the children songs, colours, shapes and other materials through her touch-screen belly.
Bipedal QRIO with its state-of-the art autonomous abilities, acts as the peer by dancing in response to humans and engaging the children in play and exercise activities during each hour long activity with the 10 to 24-month old children.

While the researchers are paving for future technical challenges, Lydia Morrison, the lead teacher of Classroom 1, says that RUBI and QRIO have become valuable members of the class. “It’s an enriching experience for both the children and the teachers,” Morrison said. “We need tools, we need teaching aids in the classroom. RUBI and QRIO could become real helpers one day. And for now, they are doing something just as important — they are helping us imagine new ways of teaching. The experience is also fun. Tickling RUBI’s sensitive TV belly so she giggles produces laughs from the people too. And, each time QRIO lays down on the floor at the end of a session for system shutdown, it draws a small crowd and a queue forms to cover him with a blanket and wish him “night-night.”

References:

[1] http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/newsrel/soc/TeacherLilHelpers.asp

[2] http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/06/050622233733.htm

U036095H Ng Zhihong

Advertisements

Responses

  1. U036367L khoo Wei Chuan

    Personally, I think that it is very ‘unhealthy’ for children to interact with robots at such a young age and more importantly, to server as their educators. The human touch should never be replaced by mere convenience. Robots can serve to facilitate our lives but should never become a mentor or companion.

  2. u036147x
    adrian yang u0304837@nus.edu.sg

    Yes. I agree with wei chuan that robots should be limited as faciltors and not used to replace mentors. In relation to this point, robots are not able to discipline the children whenever the need arises.

  3. I totally agree with both Wei Chuan and Adrian.

    Albeit computers are the wave of the future, but the old-fashioned learning techniques should not be forgotten. A child needs to physically interact with other children and adults, and not learn everything from computers (i.e. the human touch).

    Moreover, frequent and prolonged usage may pose physical health risk for children. The most frequently cited (and increasingly severe) are visual strain, harmful effects of radiation, and posture problems.

    The usage of computers to aid teaching is good, but humans (especially parents, teachers, mentors) cannot be removed from the equation; no matter how human-like the computer may be — it can never replace one.

    Chew Yiping (U036736A)

  4. U036418N Tan Chee Boon

    I don’t think they are meant to replace the human mentors or parents but serves more as an entertainment to these children. As far as I know, QRIO is able to sing song, walk, dance and converse but they are unable to carry out more coomplicated tasks such as teaching children moral values. To Wei Chuan, if you have children or young siblings, you may understand that it is impossible to accompany the children 24 hours a day. A companion robot is definitely useful.

  5. Jaseema Banu U036882L

    I agree with Tan Chee Boon. Though RUBU and QRIO are able to function as teachers, it will not be feasible to replace teachers entirely by these robots. Children still need the love, support and presence of a human teacher to guide them in the early developmental years of their growth. however, these robots can just remain as what the title of this post suggests “Little Helpers” for the teachers. their main work can be just to occupy the children in an enriching manner when the teacher is busy.

  6. Jaseema Banu U036882L

    I agree with Tan Chee Boon. Though RUBU and QRIO are able to function as teachers, it will not be feasible to replace teachers entirely by these robots. Children still need the love, support and presence of a human teacher to guide them in the early developmental years of their growth. however, these robots can just remain as what the title of this post suggests “Little Helpers” for the teachers. their main work can be just to occupy the children in an enriching manner when the teacher is busy.

  7. Comment from Jin Yunye U037842W

    I have a strong objection to any degree of replacement of human teacher by robots. Even letting a child alone with a robot will not be a good idea. Especially for a child with younger age. The purpose of education for younger children is not mastering of knowledge, rather, it is the interation with other people, making sense of social environment and interalizing the culture and custom. (From my HR2002 reading…) All these task could not be accomplished with absence of human teachers. Wouldn’t a mixture of human teacher and robot confuse the children? I think the use of robots in teaching should really be limited as a teaching/demostration tool.

  8. Hi people!

    Sorry for the prolonged absence. Actually, with respect to the discussion, both RUBI and QRIO are not meant to teach nor replace teachers. They are tools used as the research platform for the advancement of social robots and interactive computers in the education environment.

    However, i do agree with Wei Chaun, Adrian, Yiping and Yunye that robots cannot replace the human touch. This is just like in doing business, even with all the wireless communication and live conference, nothing beats the trust of a handshake. But we all must give credit to the inventions of robots as without which, we would not even be online right now conversing through the web and our laptops. (all electronics have robotics installed along the production line)

    So, to round things up, let’s hope that with all the reseach going on in various fields of robotics, humans would get to enjoy the benefits of it while remaining humane. Because humans deserve better! (and that’s the motto of the blog)

    cheers,
    Ng Zhihong
    U036095H


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: