With technology taking off in almost every industry in the United States, we’re beginning to see exciting and innovative uses of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and robots to make workplaces safer and more efficient. Robotics is still an emerging industry, but it’s growing quickly. Japan, a leader in the robotic industry, has been seeing explosive growth in the market. Between 2015 and 2020, the robot market is projected to triple, hitting $480 million. In many industries, robots are used to do dangerous, dirty, or boring tasks that take human workers away from their essential duties. But what about in education? How are robots helping to improve student learning and ensure all children have access to a great education?
Early Education Aides
Many educational robots are being used for very young children as learning aides. These robots can introduce very young children to the concepts of coding or even help to control conflicts in the preschool classroom. Social robots are programmed to detect these kinds of issues and help kids work through their social conflicts in a more constructive way. This is very helpful in classrooms where teachers are overseeing a large group of children under the age of five or six, where sharing issues can escalate quickly.
Robots that teach coding or other early academic skills often work well for children with learning disabilities or autism, and the interactive nature of these robots can make learning seem like playtime, not school. These robots are non-threatening, and tend not to overwhelm children who have special needs, but engage them. Interacting with these robots has proven to be a bridge for some children, helping them to engage more readily with their parents and caregivers through the excitement of interacting with the robot.
Robotics in the Classroom
At least for now, it’s not looking like teachers need to fear for their jobs anytime soon. There’s still a lot that goes into teaching that a robot simply can’t do as well as a human. However, robots are beginning to do in the classroom what they do best: assisting overworked humans to do their jobs effectively. It’s becoming clear that one of the most promising applications of robotics in the classroom is learning personalization.
Individualized robotic tutoring can help take some of the burden off of teachers, who do not have the time to personalize each lesson to each individual student’s needs. Working with students one-on-one, it’s easy to try different methods and approaches, but teachers often have 30 or more pupils to educate, and this kind of individualized approach is impossible. With the robotic tutor, teachers have an easy personalization tool to use, allowing them to answer questions and help where they’re really needed the most.
Robots: Helping Students at All Levels of Academics
Although when we think of education, we often think of a traditional classroom setting, many students are learning independently, whether that means taking online self-paced courses or studying for exams like the GMAT, which is a requirement for 6,500 graduate business programs. Studying without a teacher physically in the room or staying disciplined while studying can be difficult—which is where robotic tutoring can come in.
Regardless of how education changes and how robots evolve, students must still be able to think critically, develop study skills, and perform under the pressure of a testing environment. Students won’t be able to skate by without putting the work in—but a personalized tutoring robot could be a great option for preparing students to succeed.
The Future of Robots in Education
Right now, we’re only scratching the surface of what’s possible in robotics and education. As robots become more sophisticated, our teachers will have more tools to work with and learning personalization will become even more accessible and in-depth.
Of course, many people are still concerned that robots are going to take over and put people out of their jobs. It’s absolutely true that some jobs will be eliminated as robots become more ubiquitous in classrooms, hospitals, hotels, and everywhere else. That’s why it’s so important that we all continue to develop our skills and even go back to school if necessary to prepare for the jobs of the future.