Robots meet curriculum in Australian first

by Robert Ballantyne18 Aug 2015

Researchers are aiming to introduce autonomous, programmable humanoid robots – called NAO robots – into the school curriculum to improve student learning and give them first-hand access to coding and programming.

The Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, which leads the three-year research project, aims to identify challenges teachers and students face when it comes to using robots in the classroom.

Regular teachers at the participating schools will evaluate the robots through regular online surveys. The surveys will then be used by the researchers to analyse the way the NAO robots are being used to educate the students, and encourage class engagement.

NAO robots, developed by Aldebaran Robotics, a French robotics company, have been used for research and education purposes in schools and universities worldwide. As of 2015, over 5,000 NAO robots are in use in over 50 countries.

While little research exists about how robots might assist learning, the survey seeks to find out the challenges teachers and students face when it comes to using robots in the classroom.

Lead researcher at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Dr Therese Keane, said the project was necessary to skill students in a way they find both engaging and accessible.

"Coding has been identified as a necessary skill for the next-generation of workers. These robots give the students an accessible and fun way to practice and improve their coding skills," Keane told the International Business Times.

"Through the three year research program, we hope to identify the ‘best practice’ way that robots can be implemented into school curriculums. We want the robots to improve classroom learning, not simply be a novelty or distraction.”

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