Using high-tech robots in school education: pros and cons

Technology is used actively for educational purposes. It is not difficult to find electronic textbooks or order custom coursework help online. There are numerous mobile apps for students. Professors also benefit from innovations. Digitalized testing systems exempted them from the need to check control papers. Smart boards and desks make lessons more interactive and engaging. These devices respond to all moves of human hands, project a computer screen on a big display and save all files on the computer’s hard drive.

Using high-tech robots in school education: pros and cons
Credit: Sassy Townhouse Living

It is even believed that all lectures and seminars will be held by high-tech robots soon. Is it bad or good? We invite you to consider the main advantages and disadvantages of this trend.

High-tech robots’ advantages

Tech activists are sure that robots are much better than live professors. Machines never get ill, never show negative emotions and transmit educational material incorrectly. They use up-to-date methods that can be just uploaded to their hard drive. In contrast, many old-school professors think that they already know their disciplines well and there is nothing they should learn. That is why students do not receive relevant knowledge and are unprepared for real-life upon graduation.

It may seem that schools should spend a lot of money to equip classrooms with advanced technics. But it is worth not forgetting that the need to pay wages to professors will disappear.

Currently, experts talk about introducing robots in elementary school and pre-school. They may assist live professors and transmit video from distant places, for example, if a professor is in a foreign country. Kids perceive artificial intelligence with great enthusiasm and receive countless learning benefits.

Some researchers claim that live communication is paramount only for children under 1 year and preschool are is suitable for studying with social robots, forming useful skills under their guidance. It is possible to learn new words, color names and songs using AI (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_intelligence).

Visualization which robots provide is much more impressive than usual textual or verbal explanations. Technology helps to make learning more entertaining and fun. Lessons acquire a gaming character.

Today, professors track what young people do on smart boards and smart desks. If installing special programs on a computer, AI may advise learners and check their work instead of a professor. It is very convenient because one person usually has no opportunity to approach each student, find mistakes and gaps in knowledge, propose ways to improve the situation. If there are 20-30 students in a class, some of them are sure to feel the lack of the professor’s attention.

Robots provide opportunities for personalization, developing individual learning mode for everyone in a class. Students can choose a work pace and educational programs that suit them best.

Live professors often have favorites among leading students and neglect lagging ones, although these learners need help more than anyone else. AI does not have favorites, does not scold young people for bad learning results, which helps to avoid teenage problems with self-esteem.

However, everything depends on the professor’s personal traits and professionalism. If one shows equal attitude towards all learners and finds time for each of them, one can build a dozen individualized learning systems. Unfortunately, very few specialists cope with this task.

The great robots’ advantage is that they have nothing else to do apart from teaching students. This means that AI is accessible round the clock. Young people may ask their questions at any time and receive answers without causing the professor’s irritation. For example, when doing homework after classes, learners often stumble upon challenging tasks that cannot be solved independently. With AI, there is no need to wait until the next lesson. A smartphone or a computer can be used to consult an electronic program and receive instant help.

Therefore, if used reasonably, social robots can transmit all knowledge prescribed by the curriculum to students, simplify the work of a qualified, experienced professor or even replace one.

High-tech robots’ disadvantages

It is difficult to argue that technology will never replace live communication. Modern robots are still not realistic enough to resemble professors. Androids, holograms, virtual reality fully immersing learners in a digital space – all this is still in the future. Although there is no guarantee that even the best technics and graphics will replace natural human emotions. Just compare impressions of a computer game session and the pleasure of meeting with friends.

Today, professors have less work because many actions they performed before were automatized. But in the future, they may have no work at all. Millions of people will lose their jobs and face the unemployment problem.

AI is able to assess students’ academic results but not their character traits. A class teacher not only tracks marks and attendance but also solves intra-personal conflicts, can communicate with students in a friendly manner, help them to overcome negative emotions. The robot will only explain what material should be learned and how.

Not all schools are ready for the tech revolution. Some of them do not have the necessary infrastructure: powerful electricity and Internet connection, tablets, VR headsets, smart boards, and desks. Of course, the administration will not pay salaries to professors. But, at the same time, it is necessary to hire technical experts who will track AI operation.

Robots can reproduce programs uploaded to their hard drive by developers but cannot come up with some original ideas on their own. This means that AI can be only an instrument- making work of people more comfortable, but it is not a substitute for live communication. New educational programs are compiled by experienced professors with many years of practice. But if robots replace them, specialists will not have valuable experience – an indispensable precondition for creative insights. It is a vicious circle with no room for progress.

It is clear that a robot can check tests, even grammar, and punctuation in essays. But how can one assess students’ authorial style, the relevance of ideas considered by them, the beauty of narration? All these nuances may be noticed only by a live person able to provide comprehensive criticism or compliments.

Also, AI cannot motivate young people to think about career prospects, draw attention to the importance of learning for their future. Students may receive intensive flows of digital information and not understand what for they need it.

Therefore, it is impossible to say that high-tech robots are bad or good for learning. Technology has both pros and cons, like everything else in this world. It is great as a professor’s assistant but not good enough as one’s potential substitute. The main task of educational institutions is to find a golden mean and use AI reasonably.

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