Finnish children are learning maths and languages from two robots introduced to encourage children to ask questions without being embarrassed.
The language robot, named Elias, is powered by SoftBank’s NAO humanoid interactive companion robot and Utelias’ education software. The humanoid robot is controlled via a mobile app,
The language teacher can help children learn up to 23 languages, including the staples of English, Finnish and German, which are being used in the trials.
What’s so clever about Elias is that it will understand the child’s skill level and understanding, tailoring the questions specifically, so they have no need to worry whether they’ll be able to answer or not.
If Elias is worried about one of the pupils’ learning journey, it will alert a teacher, without letting the student know. This way the child can get extra support without worrying and losing trust in the robot.
“I think in the new curriculum the main idea is to get the kids involved and get them motivated and make them active. I see Elias as one of the tools to get different kinds of practice and different kinds of activities into the classroom,” language teacher Riikka Kolunsarka told Reuters.
“In that sense I think robots and coding the robots and working with them is definitely something that is according to the new curriculum and something that we teachers need to be open minded about.”
The maths robot, called OVObot, was built by Finnish company, AI Robots. It’s a small owl-inspired ‘bot, standing at 25cm tall.
Three OVObots will be trialled at the Tampere primary school for a year, while Elias had been purchased by the school, so students can use it for as long as it’s helpful.