Robotics and Artificial Intelligence:


The opportunity for education to lead rather than follow innovative, breakthrough applications of technology is within reach. Educational leadership can leverage these technologies to advance teaching and learning for each learner.

Recently, education has shifted from narrowly defined accountability models to monitoring and measuring the progress of learning. We look to the bold to expand the evidence of learning to include the process of learning — not just the product of learning. As the role of the teacher has morphed from the “sage on the stage” to facilitator or guide of learning, the final frontier will be the teacher as “activator” of learning.   

The activation of learning requires an intelligent design of specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and timely (SMART) analytics. This strategy intends to engage, equip and empower both educators and learners alike to peek inside the learning process in real time, a process similar to that of Dreambox learning.  These informative insights validate personalized learning, and more importantly, build a personalized learning map for each learner. 

The challenges of “cutting-edge” consumer technologies in the classroom
Yet, meeting the needs of each learner is limited by our abilities, or lack of abilities, to flip the flow of innovation. Powerful technologies have fallen short in realizing their promises of improved instruction or improved learning. Underpinning these shortcomings has been, in many respects, due to forcing innovation into existing mental models and practices of teaching and learning. Rather, pedagogy should guide the innovation of powerful technologies.

Cutting-edge technologies like virtual reality, 3D printing and the Internet of Things have reached the classroom. While these technologies already have potential to enrich STEM concepts, they often originate from the consumer world, and risk standing alone in makerspaces and classroom workshops. As technology use in the classroom continues to grow, opportunity to connect these devices to create a learning ecosystem is the future of personalized learning. 

To achieve personalized learning at scale, a transformation of teaching and learning must take place. This transformation will result from the confluence of big data, artificial intelligence, intuitive and adaptive analytics, virtual and augmented realities, and social, humanoid robots (SHR).

Artificial Intelligence and real-time tracking and adapting of learning 
The 4th Industrial Revolution (a time period marked by the combination of cyber-physical systems), now in motion, presents education both the impetus and the urgency to become proactive. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is what will make personal learning an everyday reality for each learner. Fueled by big data and robust, adaptive, and SMART analytics, AI only needs a delivery platform to create, amplify, and accelerate 21st century learning. 

Beyond mobile devices, tablets, laptop, and desktop technologies is the advent of social, humanoid robots. As a delivery platform, social-humanoid robots (SHR), like RoboKind, using AI will transform teaching and learning as we know it. Each teacher and potentially each learner will have a personal learning assistant that is able to consistently, constantly, and unobtrusively adjust, adapt, and activate learning – in real time.  The power to adjust within as well as between learning activities creates the potential to disrupt the failure to learn.

What educators have longed for is the ability to identify, interrupt, and intervene early and aggressively within the learning process — not after the fact as a method to prevent failure. 

SHR utilizing new breed AI will ensure that each learner progresses in skill, knowledge, experience building and attainment to reach the best outcomes of an education. Irrespective of present day constraints, education will reflect not only the promises of access and opportunity, but that of authentic equity in all manner and expression.  

SHR will provide educators with the needed, necessary, and unprecedented opportunity to utilize their profound knowledge about teaching and learning.  Equipped with new breed analytics that provide insight and intelligence about each learner, teachers will proactively focus their time to a learner’s greatest need.   

Akin to learning stations or current rotation model environments where students work individually or in small group configurations of, for, and by learning will be the preferred. SHR will tailor and customize learning methodologies to the need of the learner instead of the convenience or constraints of the teacher. Tutorials, mini-lessons, enrichments, remediation, or study sessions can be delivered as the learner needs them. Direct instruction, as well as the facilitation of learning, will be done by SHR empowering educators to use their profound knowledge of human development and natural maturation.

Preparing a new generation for a future workplace  
We’re on the cusp of a rapidly evolving economy. Students presently in grade school will enter a future workforce where 65 percent of careers do not yet exist, according to a U.S. Department of Labor Report. These implications are two-fold: 1) we need to expose students to modern technologies that will become every day tools in the future, and 2) we must leverage technology like AI and SHR to nurture a natural curiosity for learning and innovation in each learner.  

With these goals in mind, present and future generations of learners, as well as their learning guardians, will have the opportunity to experience unprecedented agency and efficacy. Each learner will have authentic choice to pursue their vocational interests and careers. As a generation of learners experience authentic and adaptive learning, the calls for economic development, revitalization, and more will be silenced by new innovations, inventions and applications of knowledge birthed from unlimited potential and possibilities.  

Dr. Gregory Firn is Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at RoboKind and former superintendent and researcher of education effects.

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