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A Nonny Moose

Humaniform Robotics Applications

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There are researchers doing work on creating virtual humans that will replace teachers entirely.

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Here is one such example. Admittedly, the article is primarily focused on virtual humans for teaching the learning challenged, but it mentions that work is being done on replacing human teachers in general.Borrowing a quote from an individual who is working on creating virtual humans for teaching purposes:"Unlike a human mentor, we can control all aspects of a pedagogical agent — its gender, age, ethnicity, personality, message, and interaction style — to represent the ideal persona for facilitating learning," Baylor says. "This leads to all kinds of exciting possibilities for simulating and researching different teaching styles and instructional strategies."

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  • Original Poster
  • The British experiment has gone a little farther than an image on a screen. They've gone tactile with real robots.

    The idea of using the 'learning disadvantaged' as laboratory animals is a little disturbing, don't you think?

    We've already experienced educational experimentation of some people who have never stood in front of a classroom working their theories on students. The curriculum that came in around 1965 in our high-schools did a very good job of alienating some people, including my kid sister, from mathematics forever.

    You see, the new mathematics, instead of concentrating on practicality, spent almost all its time on set theory, theory of numeration, multiple bases, and confused the daylights out of kids who were not ready for this kind of mathematical abstraction. My sister had to repeat grade IX because she failed that forever damned math course. Trying to explain set theory to kids at that age is like trying to convince a donkey that meat is good for him.

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    The idea of using the 'learning disadvantaged' as laboratory animals is a little disturbing, don't you think?

    I am assuming that these children are not being committed to these research programs without authorization from their parents/legal guardians. Yeah, on some level, the kid is a guinea pig, but on the other hand, the kid is getting a chance and an improved learning environment and possibly going further in life as a result. I don't see this as any worse than conducting drug research on humans when there is a legitimate chance the drug under testing can help you.

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  • Original Poster
  • With children there is always the matter of consent, and especially those with learning or cognitive difficulties. I rather prefer the touchy-feely approach the Brits are taking.

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    It seems that the difference is in the scope of the research. It would seem that the research in your article is focused on helping those with difficulty learning. The research in the US appears to have a more broad focus towards replacing humans as teachers entirely. As much as people may freak out over the idea, there is a legitimate drive to replace teachers in the classroom. Despite what teacher unions will admit, there are teachers who aren't qualified to perform their jobs, and they can have a serious detrimental impact on a child's future potential.

    There is very little doubt that the education system needs an overhaul, and this may be exactly what it needs.

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  • Original Poster
  • It is most certainly an excellent threat. It could lead to considerable cost saving as school plant will become obsolete. A virtual teacher can be seen on the Internet at home. What will be missing will be the collegiality and the social interaction for the student body. The way things are going these days, this would not be much of a loss for many.

    I wonder if anyone has the gumption to give a failing grade to a pupil in such a program? You can blame it on the computer (programmer?).

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    While it may spell the end for the teaching profession as we know it, virtual teachers are unlikely to do away with the school system entirely. Younger children are going to have classes that are ill suited for instruction by a virtual human, and older children are quite possibly going to want to be involved in sports or other communal activities.

    As for student performance, in theory at least, no student should fail a class taught by a virtual instructor. The whole idea is that the student is being instructed in a manner tailored to the student's learning style, by a virtual human tailored to the type of individual that the student most easily connects with. It's a bit like giving every student a tutor, with the added benefit that every student thinks his/her tutor is the coolest person on earth

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  • Original Poster
  • If the proper heuristics are present, the system will tailor itself to the end user (student). This allows pacing and material to be presented at a better and more personalized manner.

    As for communal sports and such, this is what community recreational centres are for. The entire formal school system can be on the Internet. Social and sports can all be at the local centre.

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