Who is helping whom?

Robots and kids learning to write together

Robots don’t have to go off by themselves to help us. Scientists at EPFL have developed a small, humanoid robot that can play the role of a less skilled learner. The robot attempts to write a word, but does so poorly. The lines can be squiggly and the letters misshaped. The robot asks, “How is that?”, and the student then shows the robot the right way to write the words and letters.

There is a bit of psychology involved here. The students are more accepting that the robot can’t draw well, unlike a peer or teacher who they may know is just faking it. Also, people’s brains work differently when they know they’ll need to teach something later. You tend to remember the lesson better when you expect to have to teach it to someone.

You can read more about it here: http://www.kurzweilai.net/kids-and-robots-learn-to-write-together.

Mark Crosby

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