Tuesday, December 28, 2010

English-Teaching Robots Arrive in Korea

English teaching robots have arrived in South Korea!  As reported in the Joongang Daily, the Daegu Office of Education introduced 29 robot teachers in 21 elementary schools.  The 1-meter (3.28 feet) egg-shaped robot, named “Engkey” (an abbreviation of English key), spoke, asked questions and conversed in English with students, and even entertained the crowd by dancing to music.  (Click on the accompanying graphic to see a full size version.)
From my point of view, one of the most interesting aspects of this experiment is that these robots are linked to real live teachers. These teachers control the machines by remote from the Philippines. They have cameras to record their faces - which show up on a flat panel screen that forms the robo-teacher’s face - and they can also see the Korean students through a camera installed in the robot. Basically, the robot is a rolling Internet link between students and teacher, although the human teacher can also command the robot to make human gestures with its arms and wheels.
No doubt this news is going to strike a chord with many of the expatriate English teachers now living and working in South Korea.   It is also an interesting bit of evidence to support Korea's ambitious goals for the future of its robotics industry!  Comments welcome!

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps in the future they can find a way to have teachers in the Philippines directly control native speaker teachers in Korea. That's the technology I'm waiting for.

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