May 15, 2014
BREAKING THE UNIONS:
Kindergarten bots teach language to tots (Hal Hodson, 5/15/14, New Scientist)
Posted by Orrin Judd at May 15, 2014 3:33 PMBLUE, a fluffy robot with cartoon eyes, is telling a little girl a story about a snowman. The tale plays out in pictures on a tablet that sits between the preschooler and Blue's soft plastic feet. Blue's eyes look down at the characters as it describes them, then up at the child to check that she's paying attention. The 5-year-old is one of the first children to learn language skills from a robot, and she is captivated.The girl is part of an eight-week experiment by MIT's Media Lab now taking place in a preschool in the Boston area. The idea is to see how well children learn from robots - it is one of a handful of similar experiments being run by graduate student Jacqueline Kory.Kory and colleagues are testing children to see how well they remember new words learned from robots over time. As the weeks go by, Blue and other robots like it, dubbed DragonBots, will adapt their stories as a child learns new words, keeping pace with individual development. Kory and the team leader, Cynthia Breazeal, will be logging everything and tracking how well they learn.The team believe robots represent a powerful new way to enhance children's education. Unlike educational TV shows, say, the robots are physically present and have some of the same social skills as humans. That gives them the potential to tap into a child's appetite for one-to-one communication and help kids learn in many of the same ways a human teacher does.