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Students Learn to Write by Tutoring a Robot

Swiss researchers, operating with the knowledge that kids learn better when able to teach their skills to other pupils, have developed a robot student to assist with lessons in penmanship.

Swiss researchers at École Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne have developed a robot penmanship tutor that doesn’t actually tutor. Instead, the robot emulates a struggling student so that kids with fledgling skills can tutor it. This allows children who are at the bottom of their class to still have the opportunity to teach others and therefore build the self-esteem that comes with such an accomplishment.

“When you teach someone else, you think about things in a different way and you learn in different styles that can be beneficial for children with these difficulties,” says Deanna Hood, one of the researchers who helped develop the CoWriter system. 

As reported by Richard Moss of Gizmag, the system operates using a rather cute NAO robot who exhibits imperfect penmanship on a tablet. It’s up to the student to teach the robot how to fix his errors:

“To teach the robot, children first prepare words with small magnetic letters of the sort found on fridges the world over. The robot then writes the word on the tablet screen and the child identifies and corrects errors by rewriting either the whole word or specific letters. Once satisfied with the robot’s legibility, the child moves on to the next word. The robot meanwhile analyzes the corrected letters for differences and then in repeat attempts converges towards the child’s level of writing. And in the process of teaching, the child gets handwriting practice without realizing it.”

Check out the video below for a demonstration.

Read more at Gizmag.

Photo credit: École Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne via Gizmag


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