Friday, March 19, 2010

Roboto Teacha, Help Please!

Classes using robots developed for educational purposes have proven to be effective in enhancing English classes, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said Thursday.
Students of English classes using robots as teaching assistants showed better learning achievements in speaking, as well as greater confidence and motivation, it said, citing a survey carried out by the Korea Education and Research Information Service (KERIS).

This from today's Korea Times. Note that the comparison is incomplete--"better" than who? Students with no English instruction? Students with Korean English teachers? Foreign teachers?

As with almost every development in public education in Korea lately, the goal is to decrease the role of hagwons, the private academies that dot the Seoul citiscape like kimbap restaurants:
"Using teaching robots in classes is expected to raise the quality of public school education, thus leading to less dependence on the private education," said Kim Hong-joo, a ministry official.

However, according to this article, the robots will largely be deployed in provincial areas:
The government has expressed interest in robots so that more learning opportunities can be provided to students in rural areas. It said last year that it will strive to be one of the top three global leaders in this field by 2013.
“The machines spurred creativity and had a positive influence on the attitude of students,” a ministry official said, adding that teachers believed robots created equal opportunities for students during learning sessions.

Finally, here is a short news story on the robots; though it is in Korean, you can see what the robots look and sound like:


Foreigner Joy said...

Poor kids can't have the fun of torturing the robot like they do their hagwon native teachers.

Brilliant solution Korea! ..

Mo said...

Wow, that's crazy! It'll be interesting to see how these things work out. Luckily I doubt they'll be putting us English teachers out of a job anytime soon. :)

BLOGitse said...

wow! What will happen when they have to speak English with a human being?
Thanks for sharing!


Tuttle said...

Thanks to all for the comments! I doubt they'll put anyone out of a job anytime soon, though robots have actually made humans redundant in some cases in the manufacturing industry.

I didn't write about this, but I am a bit of a robot buff, and I remember the last World's Fair in Japan showcased customer service robots that were quite, uh, serviceable, in several languages ...