…WHAT?!?!? Have you heard about this? Where was this when I was in school? In World History class to be exact. On second thought I’ll pass on the mind-reading part…Nope! (smells like detention)
I was listening to NPR news. God, I love that broadcast (nerd). Anyway, I heard about this and it piqued my interest. And, I found an article about it at New Scientist.
OK, so they used a robotic teacher that monitors students’ attention levels and mimics the techniques human teachers use to hold their pupils’ attention promises to end the snoozing (yeah right), especially for students who have their lessons online. Tests indicate the robot can boost how much students remember from their lessons. Here’s how they did it:
The robot teacher first told a boring, short story about the animals that make up the Chinese zodiac, in order to get a baseline EEG reading. Next, the robot told a longer, which is I’m sure an EVEN MORE BORING, 10-minute story based on a little-known Japanese folk tale called My Lord Bag of Rice, which the student was unlikely to have heard before.
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. Afterwards, the students were asked a few questions about the Chinese zodiac to distract them before being asked a series of questions about the folk tale.
So, basically, the students who were given a cue by the robot when their attention was waning were much better at recalling the story than the other two groups. Ummm…OK. Predictable outcome, which is why tutoring is successful. Interaction is stimulating. Hmph! Part of me says I’m so happy I’ve never let anyone read my mind. That just sounds DANGEROUS! And the other part of me is upset that I couldn’t participate in this when I was in school. I would probably have been a little Smarter, but I don’t think I can get any Sassier! :-)