Another Robot Teacher Enters Korean Classrooms

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South Korea's latest classroom robot is Robosem from Yujin.

In the next three years, South Korea is going to suffer a massive invasion. Not from the North, but from robots conquering its classrooms. As part of the nation’s big plans for introducing automated systems to all levels of education, major robotics developers have been unveiling new designs for machines that could help students learn. Since late last year, Yujin Robotics has been demonstrating Robosem, a telepresence enabled bot that can teach basic lessons or allow a remote human instructor to teleconference into a class. It recently complete several weeks of testing in elementary schools. Like many other such platforms, Yujin’s bot is focused on English instruction (a subject that has required Korea to import many foreign tutors). Check out all the great pics of the classroom friendly robot below. Robosem is just one of many different machines that could help South Korea achieve its goal of placing a robot in every kindergarten by 2013.

Like many other classroom robots we’ve covered in the past, Robosem pairs a large LCD display with teleconference accessories (camera, mic, speakers, etc) wrapped inside a friendly frame meant to appeal to younger audiences. It comes loaded with several lessons it can step children through autonomously, or it can be operated remotely as a telerobot for live instruction via its monitor. Many thanks to PlasticPals for recognizing that Robosem is an adaptation of Yujin’s CafeRo service robot the company revealed several years ago. It’s unclear if Robosem’s arms are for gesturing use only, or if they can grasp trays and lift light objects as Cafero’s could. Undoubtedly the acoustic and visual sensors developed to help Cafero navigate a crowded restaurant will serve Robosem well in the chaos of a kindergarten.

South Korea has been one of the leaders (perhaps the leader) in pushing for educational robots in traditional classroom settings. The fact that they have attracted not one, but many successful companies to develop machines that could satisfy their 2013 goal is a great sign that the nation might actually be successful to that end. A generation of young students would not only have the direct experience of working with robots, they may be inspired to pursue a career in that industry or science in general.

If South Korea is ultimately able to integrate robotics into their education system, I think we can expect many other countries to adopt the technologies that are developed for their goals. Other nations should take note of this investment. Want global industries to take your cultural norms and your preferences into consideration when developing a ground breaking device? The first to sponsor visionary projects are the ones that set the terms. Maybe the Robot Race will be to the 21st Century what the Space Race was to the 20th.

My fingers are crossed.

Robosem teaching in Korea

Yeah, if I was mobbed by kids I'd be panicked too. Run, Robosem, run for your life! Their fingers carry deadly sticky diseases!

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In my day, the back of this teacher bot would have been covered in spitballs. These modern kids are way too polite to robots.

The following pics are from an earlier demonstration in October of 2010. Photos by Chris Chesher.

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[image credits: MSN, CCDaily News, Chris Chesher via Flickr]
[sources: MSN, CCDailyNews, PlasticPals]

Discussion — 10 Responses

  • Joey1058 February 27, 2011 on 12:58 am

    It’s a great idea, but I’m kind of of the opinion that one day, school will come to the students similar to the way that e-learning happens now. You register for your classes from whatever institutions you prefer. Then the teacher of that class is chosen from one of several offered. you set up your workspace for the day, and simply call up that teacher in your list. The teacher appears via AR, live, from wherever s/he is. Enough students have applied for that class for the teacher to hold a group class via AR as well. Anyway, I’m thinking of the way that Vernor Vinge described the process in “Rainbows End”.

    • Orr_shomroni Joey1058 February 27, 2011 on 7:56 am

      Well, although this kind of e-learning would be a good idea, there is one major flaw in it: few children actually want to learn. That is why they are forced to go to school. The question is whether e-learning can motivate children to actively participate in classes from their own home. If e-learning could do that, the advantage of e-learning to humanity would be enormous: children willingly learning will induce them to become individuals who actively study rather than seeing studying as work.

  • choose hot tubs direct February 27, 2011 on 4:15 am

    It will be a great drive for the little kids to go to school and study. It will be just like playing with a robot but it will enhance the kids’ learning experience. This is a great invention indeed.

  • Elad Kehat February 27, 2011 on 7:13 am

    Great. Train a generation of kids to take directions from a robot. Skynet won’t need to fight anyone to take over.

    • Suinghub-1 20 Ced Elad Kehat February 28, 2011 on 6:45 am

      theses robots will be equipped with automated gun turret in america….for kid’s safety

  • Anonymous February 27, 2011 on 2:49 pm

    Telepresence
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    http://blog.whizmeeting.com/?p=320

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    http://blog.whizmeeting.com/?p=950

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  • Chris Chesher March 16, 2011 on 1:37 am

    My understanding is that Robosem will most often work in tandem with a teacher in the classroom. It is particularly aimed at language learning, and apparently acts as a native English speaker. This application is also a key justifications for telepresence: an English teacher could teach some of the large number of classes (4-8 hours per week for each class) from outside the country (e.g. Philippines).
    Another key issue is developing curriculum for the robot. Remembering the CD-ROM multimedia days, I have some skepticism about the sustainability of these applications. Overall it seems an extremely expensive technologically-driven solution to educational problems. On the other hand, such applications are likely to be quite important for the general development of robotic platforms.

  • Ormond Otvos July 6, 2011 on 2:35 pm

    They need to work on the body language of the robot shape!
    All hunchy and threatening. Best to imitate teacher body language!