Saturday, September 15, 2007

Robot Peer Learners? Now THAT'S Ed Tech!

From: China View
"U.S. company creates robot boy named Zeno"
" BEIJING, Sept. 14 (Xinhuanet) -- A group of engineers, designers and programmers at Hanson Robotics in Texas have created a 17-inch tall, 6-pound robot boy bearing the same name as the company's founder's 18-month-old son, Zeno... Hanson says he envisions Zeno not as a clearly artificial robotic toy, but as an interactive learning companion, a synthetic pal who can engage in conversation and convey human emotion through a face made of a skin-like, patented material Hanson calls frubber..."
Much more on Zeno @ the blog:
see posts on Zeno dated 9/5 and 9/13/2007
The posibilities created by an instructional technology resource like Zeno are far beyond the scope of any variety of interactivity witnessed so far. What happens when the technology takes on the capacity to serve the social learning needs of the learner? Education currently almost exclusively addresses the cognitive dimensions of learning. The approach taken with Zeno, however, suggests that technology can impact the psychological dimensions, too. We've seen a few inklings of this type of thing already: the robot babies used to teach young women about motherhood, the enormous popularity of virtual ePets, and full-blown robot dogs. However, robot students who learn alongside their human companions, both parties growing in unique ways because of who they are as individuals AND as pairs or in groups, offers startling expansion to the meaning of Ed Tech. Perhaps we should all pinch ourselves and chant "this is NOT sci fi... this is NOT sci fi... this is NOT sci fi..."

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