Second-grade robot

Homebound by severe allergies, Devon Carrow participates in second grade at a New York elementary school via robot. His classmates think it’s no big deal.

VGo Communications‘ 4-foot-tall robot with a wireless video hookup lets Devon “participate in class, stroll through the hallways, hang out at recess and even take to the auditorium stage when there’s a show,” reports AP. “In a class of 7-year-olds raised on video games, avatars and remote-controlled toys, they don’t see a robot. They just see Devon.”


Japanese train robot to ace university exam

Japanese researchers are working on a robot that could ace university entrance exams, reports AFP. By 2021, the robot would be ready to tackle Tokyo University’s “notoriously tough exam,” hopes Hidenao Iwane from Fujitsu Laboratories.

Why bother?

The ultimate goal is to develop technology that would “enable anyone to easily use sophisticated mathematical analysis tools,” Fujitsu said.

If the robot passes the test — just leave it to HAL — does that mean the humans don’t have to?

Interactive robot keeps students engaged

robot can monitor students’ engagement and modify its teaching to keep students focused, reports New Scientist.

University of Wisconsin researchers programmed a Wakamaru humanoid robot to tell students a story , one on one, while using a sensor to track brain signals.

During this story the robot raised its voice or used arm gestures to regain the student’s attention if the EEG levels dipped. These included pointing at itself or towards the listener — or using its arms to indicate a high mountain, for example.

Two other groups were tested but the robot either gave no cues, or sprinkled them randomly throughout the storytelling.

Asked about the story, the interactive robot’s students answered an average of 9 out of 14 questions correctly,  compared with just 6.3 when the robot gave no cues.

ESL prof invents ‘chatbot’ to teach English

An English as a Second Language instructor’s “chatbot” is helping immigrant students practice their English.

Also on Community College Spotlight: While college presidents say online courses are as good as traditional instruction, the public is skeptical.