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Chula researchers develop novel Robot Teaching Assistant

The learning environment promises to be more fun and energetic with a new robot teaching assistant – a creation by Chula inventors rubber-stamped by the Gold Medal and the Innovation Excellence Award from the International British Innovation, Invention, Technology Exhibition (IBIX) 2020.

For kids, playing games and learning will no longer be two separate things. Following the recent launch of the teaching assistant robot “Avatar”, an innovative collaboration between Chula’s Faculties of Education and Engineering in the “TARAL: Teaching Assistant interactive Robot for Active Learning” research project.

“We developed the robot teaching assistant from a robot teddy bear, the first-generation robot that we submitted to a contest in South Korea. The highlight of the Avatar TA robot is the new feature that will transform the boring learning environment into fun lessons that learners will enjoy, including raising their Avatar robot with QR Codes received from answering quizzes. This process is called Gamification because it evokes a sense of enjoyment that learners may forget that they are studying”, said Prof. Dr Naowanit Songkram, Department of Educational Technology and Communications, who is a co-developer of the 10-inch, resin Avatar robot with Assoc. Prof. Dr Krerk Piromsopa of the Department of Computer Engineering, about the highlights and key features of the innovation.

The team applied the Learning Management System (LMS) in growing Avatar. The more learners answer quizzes, the more Avatar grows, “so learning and playing are pretty much the same thing,” the Professor said. Avatar is also equipped with Moodle open-source LMS which allows teachers to add and modify as needed all forms of contents and teaching materials in Avatars, be it animations, electronic books, or URL links. It was noted that the quizzes may include fill-in-the-blank, or full-sentence answers types. The evaluation and summary of the results are also done in real-time.

Prof. Dr Naowanit concluded that Avatar is currently under petty patent application and that an extension of the project to Chulalongkorn Demonstration School to develop exercise aids for students’ fitness test in P.E. is currently underway as well.

AI in education

A recent article noted that AI is slowly making its way into education, although robots in the classroom are yet to become a staple. Specific tasks can be rendered easier with artificial intelligence. Soon, it is expected that AI will be used to make grading relatively fast and simple on computer equipment. This will significantly improve the quality of education by helping students be as successful as possible.

Teachers and learners are already benefitting from machine-learning capabilities, improving access to information, and enhancing learning.

Some examples include:

  1. Personalized Learning: By offering personalized recommendations to each student, teachers can perform much better than before. With AI, students receive personal assistance with their in-class assignments as well as their final exams. It’s essential to give students immediate feedback through artificial intelligence apps since they’re targeted and customized. Lessons can be condensed into intelligent flashcards or study guides. Students can also be taught based on the challenges they face in learning class materials.
  2. Easy to Understand Materials: AI is being developed to make complex texts more understandable to students with varying levels of learning abilities. Students with learning disabilities should find it easier to relate and engage with the material if they simplify it or replace famous quips with simple alternatives.
  3. Educators Access to More Data: AI has enabled educators to have more access than ever before to a variety of data that can provide them with valuable insights into a student’s characteristics.
  4. Globalized Learning: Through AI-powered education, students learn the fundamentals of computer literacy. With the advent of more technological advances, there’ll be a broader range of courses available online.
  5. Identification of Learning Disabilities: Learning to identify learning disabilities in students is the first step in providing effective learning for them. Not all current testing is highly effective in detecting dyslexia, dyscalculia, and other learning disabilities. Some teachers are being trained on new AI systems to administer more effective tests to discover some of these conditions. A learning disability can be identified and the resources available can be used for the student.
  6. Simplified Administrative Tasks: With technology, grading can be automated in instances where multiple tests are being administered. So, professors wouldn’t be spending as much time grading them as they would be with their students. AI is expected to do this soon.
  7. Uses AI for Student’s Reliable Feedback: As AI gets increasingly advanced, this makes it possible to give students direct feedback on their performance. The system allows students to work at their own pace as needed to master the material and it won’t move on until students demonstrate mastery.
  8. New Innovations: AI can help in creating data-driven forecasts allowing operations departments to analyse complex data. Hence, they can adequately plan for the future, assign seats during school functions, or order food from local cafeterias. School districts can drastically reduce waste by eliminating over-ordering, thus saving money.
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