European scientists are developing language-teaching machines to help five-year-olds learn a second language, reports Jacek Krywko in The Atlantic.
L2TOR (“El Tutor”) robots will use “microphones to listen, cameras to watch, and artificial neural networks that will analyze all the information that’s collected.” The project is funded by the European Union.
Designers believe the machines will be able to pick up nonverbal cues to monitor students’ boredom, confusion, happiness and sadness.
“The problem with previous generations of teaching machines was their complete lack of social intelligence,” says Stefan Kopp, a German L2TOR researcher. “Our robots will notice tears, smiles, frowns, yawns … and dynamically adjust to how a child feels.”
Designers will observe kindergarten teachers “and then program our robots to act like them,” Kopp says.
It sounds crazy to me. But a robot teacher that looks like a poodle and speaks French — well, who knows?
“New” and techy isn’t necessarily better, advises Andy Smarick on Star Wars and Education Reform. “Like the Empire and many, many, many other reform movements, today’s education reform also seems to place an outsized faith in technology.”