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Will Robots Replace Human Teachers?

Updated on September 19, 2014

Robots Are Coming to Classrooms

Will this be your child's new teacher?
Will this be your child's new teacher? | Source

Just What Would a Robot Teacher Do?

In Masan, South Korea, robots are being used to teach English to young children, with mixed reviews. Some children think the robots are fun, but some are frustrated that the robots can't really understand what they are trying to say. Currently, some robots are programmed to teach English with speech recognition software, and some sing songs with children. Others are telepresence robots which enable children to learn from native speakers of English who are far away. In Korea the robot teachers are used primarily with preschool and kindergarten children. In Japan they will be used with older children.

Currently the robots are not being used to replace teachers, but to supplement them. However, they are talking about letting them have a larger role as the robots become capable of more. In Japan, NIT's e-Nuvo humanoid robots are equipped with projectors, and will build interest in science and engineering as they discuss robotics.

Image: Photobucket

What's been written about robots as teachers?

Robotic teachers and teaching assistants are being tested in South Korea and Japan. They are also being experimented with for teaching special needs children, especially those with autism, here in the United States. Much of this research is taking place in San Diego.

A researcher at MIT expressed concern that if robots are used in teaching children, children may begin to think technology is a master. Others say this won't happen because the robotic teachers will only be supplemental. I'm not so sure. I see how powerful the unelected staff assistants seem to be in local government bodies. I've noticed that those who are elected seem to just take staff's advice. It makes me wonder just who is really governing. Staff is also "supplemental."

Sometimes perception is everything. Some children respond better to the robotic than to the human teachers. They imitate them and learn by that imitation. Some robotic teachers have been trained to cry if children pull their arms, so that they will seem more human. They can also be taught to "think" and answer questions. Why might children not think them authoritative?

Be sure to click the fourth link to find out more about this new research.

A better way to learn a second language? - Try Rosetta Stone

Many people are using Rosetta Stone now to learn new languages. It comes in a variety of languages and you can choose the one that's best for you. I've selected French to spotlight below, but once you're there, you can see what other languages are available.

Would You Like to Bring a Robotic Teacher into Your Home? - Your preschool just may take to robotic teachers

These both teach the basic skills children need to have before starting kindergarten. They aren't compatible with children under three, but those over three will enjoy interacting with them as they learn. They will sing and dance, as well as teach your child to count and say the alphabet and recognize letters and numbers. They also teach other cognitive and social skills.

VTech Cogsley Learning Robot
VTech Cogsley Learning Robot

Cogsley will help your child of at least three years old learn basic preschool language, math, and social skills. See how your child likes interacting with this robotic teacher friend.


Do Classrooms Need Robots and Computers?

Although at this time, they are not replacing teachers, they are being used to assist in instruction. Do you think they are necessary when we already have computers being used in classrooms?

Playskool Alphie
Playskool Alphie

Alphie also teaches preschool skills, sings, and plays music.


Do you think robots should help teach in preschools and kindergarten classes?

See results

Robotic Substitute Teacher in Japan. - She is used primarily to teach students about technology.

The children responded well to her, but the human teacher thinks she still has a long way to go to replace him.

Some pros and cons concerning teaching robots.

Those who are promoting the use of robots in the classroom believe they will engage student interest and also enable special guests to interact with students from long distances. I wonder how long the robotic guest will seem unique and able to sustain the initial interest. I'm wondering why a robot with telepresence is a better way to bring in guests than Skype, which will allow the students to actually interact live with a special guest.

Another concern I have is that robots are unfeeling machines when all is said and done. I am wondering what these mechanical wonders can do that can't be done just as well by a computer or an overhead projector or video, which would all be much cheaper to bring in. In one of the videos below, you will see the frustration of a young girl attempting to make the robot recognize what she is trying to say. All of us know the frustration of voice menus that don't offer the option we need and our desperate desire to talk to a real human. As adults, we supposedly can handle this kind of frustration better than a young child.

Another issue I see is technical support. What happens when the "teacher" doesn't work right? Who fixes it? Will the real classroom teacher be expected to be able to repair his assistants when they have technical issues?

My biggest objection, though, is that children, especially young ones, need as much interaction with real human adults as possible. They don't need robotic nannies with no heart during their school day. They need a human who really cares about them and wants to see them be all they can be. They need a teacher with enthusiasm they can catch to interest them in a subject.

Robots Seem to Help Autistic Children

Another Demonstration of a Teaching Robot - Ready to have one like him in your child's class?

It is much less human than SAYA, the substitute teacher in the Japanese science class I showed you in the first video. No one will be pinching its nose to see if it's real.

Another way to learn a language

If you need a bit more than total immersion and Rosetta Stone doesn't seem right for you, try this. I chose Japanese to spotlight because it's a popular language to learn right now. The course is available in almost any language you do want to learn.

Pimsleur Japanese Conversational Course - Level 1 Lessons 1-16 CD: Learn to Speak and Understand Japanese with Pimsleur Language Programs
Pimsleur Japanese Conversational Course - Level 1 Lessons 1-16 CD: Learn to Speak and Understand Japanese with Pimsleur Language Programs

For those who find Rosetta Stone too expensive or who aren't comfortable with it's total immersion approach, the Pimsleur method has gotten some great reviews. I have played with its samples in the German language and found it to be an approach I would take to, but since I know I wouldn't give any time to leaning a new language right now when I don't need to use it any time soon, I didn't get a full version. I would like this better than Rosetta, since I like to understand a bit about the grammar of what I'm saying, and Pimsleur includes that unobtrusively.


You've seen some robot teachers now. - What do you think of them?

Let's assume there will be vast improvements in the capabilities of robotic teachers. We all know that computers are much better now than they were in 1964 when they took up an entire room and we had to punch cards to communicate with them. We've come along way in making them smaller and giving them voices and ears that can understand what we say most of the time. They can teach us and entertain us. Let's assume that robots will also evolve into much more capable teachers with better voice recognition. Let's say they actually could be programmed to teach -- not just assist.

Would you want your child in a class taught by a robot? Why or why not? (We will assume a human is within earshot.)

I would have no objection if the robot is competent in the subject and can make the content interesting to the children.

I would have no objection if the robot is competent in the subject and can make the content interesting to the children.

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    • anonymous 3 years ago

      I would like that my teacher will be replaced by a robot

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      Yes, because robots can take over the world so u better wTch outTFY!U!UY!fretted f do. See my iPad just took over for that moment back there

    • getmoreinfo 4 years ago

      I guess it would depend on the subject being taught and how well the child is adjusted to self-taught learning.

    • anonymous 5 years ago

      robots is going to be cool but how are they going to teach children.

    • anonymous 5 years ago

      I think that robos are better as they do not get tired & also they do not take salary.There are also many advantages that can't be share in given time.SO I THINK ROBOTS ARE BEST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Staceysk 5 years ago

      I think it would peak interest in some kids (as a novelty) as long as it was only used as part of the learning experience. I'd like to think of the robot as a talking computer teaching tool.

    • Tracy Smith 5 years ago from Maryville, TN

      Teacher will still be needed. Children need love, which a robot can not give. However a robot could be very helpful for teachers and give more kids one on one attention.

    • anonymous 6 years ago

      the robots don't think than human

    • anonymous 6 years ago

      robots can not get sick, so no need to replace them !!!! :)

    • anonymous 6 years ago

      Yes, it's so good !

    • anonymous 7 years ago

      I would have no problem with the use of new technology. I do not feel it should be the sole source of teaching. I do feel that with an aging population in the west that we will be turning to technology to fill jobs and to be of assistance to our current and future populations. Teaching will be one of those jobs.

    No. Learning requires more than just seeing, hearing and interacting with content.

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      • Barbara Radisavljevic 3 years ago from Templeton, CA

        @anonymous: I totally agree. Only humans can make a real connection with a human.

      • anonymous 3 years ago

        No way. I believe teaching requires a good relationship with the student and I don't think robots can fufill this like human teachers can.

      • Rhonda Lytle 4 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

        No, I would not want my child in a class taught by a robot. I want someone that actually cares about the child and can build a relationship with them.

      • Melissa Miotke 4 years ago from Arizona

        The idea of a robot teaching my children is actually scary to me. I want them to have that personal connection and someone that hopefully cares about them! We don't have to eliminate every job with a robot.

      • Barbara Radisavljevic 4 years ago from Templeton, CA

        @secondlanguagel: I agree. Using a robot seems more like using a computer as a drilling aid to me. It shouldn't be the primary teacher.

      • secondlanguagel 4 years ago

        I am a teacher, and there is nothing that replaces human contact. But definitely, some of the rote learning and grind can be automated.

      • Robert Zimmerman 4 years ago from SE Florida, USA

        No, at that young age they need to learn that humans are most important.

      • JoshK47 5 years ago

        Certainly not... people need to interact with people in able to learn properly.

      • anonymous 5 years ago

        No, I don't like a robot teacher it does not have many things which normal techers have .For example emotions,felling etc..........

      • anonymous 5 years ago

        Just as children need more than media, they need more than a robot. They need a living, breathing teacher available to them.

      • ltraider 5 years ago

        Education is fundamentally a human activity

      • The Goblins Den 6 years ago

        Robots would be OK to use as a teaching aid, but I think it's always important to have the human element involved. Teaching is more than just 0 and 1 logic.

      • sheilamarie78 6 years ago

        This is just one more way we are encouraging people to interact more with technology than with other people. Wake up, everybody! Don't let our children's brains be changed to withdraw from other persons!

      • Brookelorren LM 6 years ago

        I do think that computers will take a more active role in the learning process, but teachers are necessary as well. We tried computerized instruction for English, and it didn't work too well with my dd... we're back to books.

      • ZablonMukuba 6 years ago

        learning is a human interaction, i don't like online lessons because of the lack of human interaction

      • anonymous 6 years ago

        a teacher is a one who can understand one's feeling and what a child is in need so i don't think so that same will happen with someone with no feelings so its literally NOOOOOOOOOOOOO.................

      • Nancy Tate Hellams 7 years ago from Pendleton, SC

        Oh, I think having a robot to teach would be detrimental to a child. Children need the warmth and understanding of a caring teacher.

      You don't need a robot to learn to speak English.

      I'll bet even Koreans would learn English better with Rosetta Stone

      Is there a favorite teacher you especially remember? What made that teacher stand out from the others you've had?What qualities were special? Please share below, or just let me know you stopped by.

      What do you think is the most important quality of a teacher?

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          Nancy Tate Hellams 7 years ago from Pendleton, SC

          I think the most important quality of a school teacher is to have respect for his/her students and I don't see a Robot being able to show any kind of respect.

        • profile image

          anonymous 7 years ago

          Do not humiliate a child for any reason. If a child has a problem then a private consultation is required. Children do not need lessons on how to bully. Robots can be programmed to show compassion. I wish we could do that with all human beings.

        • strayspay profile image

          strayspay 7 years ago

          I replied I would have no objection on your duel lens but I think it is so sad to think of mechanisms replacing people. This is a great lens and a great topic. I wish I'd have qualified my comment as the Whistler did by saying it should only be allowed as a tool for teachers.

        • BarbRad profile image

          Barbara Radisavljevic 7 years ago from Templeton, CA

          @strayspay: Strayspay, you've got another chance. Your comment for some reason did not make it to the duel. It didn't need approval, but I checked to make sure nothing was pending. Hope you will give it another try. We'd like to hear what you were going to say.

        • stephenteacher profile image

          Stephen Carr 6 years ago from Corona, CA

          Very interesting lens and one that made me think a little bit. The most important qualities of a teacher are wanting to be there, and knowing what they are teaching.

        • ZablonMukuba profile image

          ZablonMukuba 6 years ago

          interesting lens

        • Elle-Dee-Esse profile image

          Lynne Schroeder 6 years ago from Blue Mountains Australia

          To teach effectively a good teacher needs to be able to understand the child's ability, personality and learning style as well as behavioural traits.

        • AuthorNormaBudden profile image

          AuthorNormaBudden 6 years ago

          I remember being young and, when the teacher would give me praise for a job well done, accompanied by a hug, I was on top of the world. I wouldn't be able to get that from a robot - far from it.

        • sheilamarie78 profile image

          sheilamarie78 6 years ago

          A good teacher is someone who cares about the whole child and helps that child be the best she can be. It's not just about pouring knowledge in.

        • Geekgurl profile image

          Kimberly Hiller 6 years ago from Chicago

          I am currently teaching in South Korea and saw this come out. It can only help approximately 8 kids at a time and cost a couple million dollars to make. They are now being used for just after school functions, but maybe someday more. It still isn't as good as having the teacher there speaking conversational English to them in person.

        • profile image

          The Goblins Den 6 years ago

          Patience and understanding. Being good at reviewing the material is important, but one needs to understand how to communicate with students who have no knowledge of the subject at hand. It's especially tricky when the students don't want to learn, but that's another can of worms.

        • jackieb99 profile image

          jackieb99 6 years ago

          The robots are so ridiculous!

        • Sylvestermouse profile image

          Cynthia Sylvestermouse 6 years ago from United States

          I had no idea robots were already being tested in the classroom! I couldn't be more opposed! I already want to slam my phone on the kitchen counter anytime I get one of those stupid vru's answer. I speak very plain English and half the time the stupid thing says "I don't understand" and starts it's stupid spill over again. I simply don't have time in my day for such foolishness. By the time I finish answering their pre-questions, I could have been completely finished my entire conversation with a customer service rep. and I wouldn't end the call in such a foul mood. I can only imagine how frustrated a child in a classroom would get.

        • BarbRad profile image

          Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

          @Sylvestermouse: What you said hits one of my nerves. I have been forced to endure AT&T's computer interface several times this month, and I've found myself screaming at the robot who won't put me through to a human . Once I get to the humans, they are fine. I would assume that if a robot were "helping" a classroom teacher, the frustrated child would at least have a human around to here his complaint. But I'm with you. I can understand computer drills and models and packaging them as robot teachers, but there has to be a human around -- at least I hope so.

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          I remember my sweet teacher from the first and 2nd grade, Mrs. Exstrand. She and Mr. Exstrand lived in the teacherage right in the building. Mr. Exstrand was the assistant, so we got 2 teachers for the price of one. No robot could have taken the place of Mr. or Mrs. Exstrand, they were wonderful and so kind that you just wanted to learn from them. They never once raised their voices and always had time to give a little extra help.

        • Shoputopian profile image

          Karnel 5 years ago from Lower Mainland of BC

          I wasn't aware they use robots this is crazy...Teachers are always remembered, I remember my teachers and that's from 30+ years...Great lens...

        • Sher Ritchie profile image

          Sher Ritchie 5 years ago

          My favourite teacher was Mrs Shelia Mann, who taught final year English. She wanted her students to learn how to see through bad arguments, how to understand a writer's true meaning, how to express themselves constructively - and all whilst still teaching us about spelling, grammar, vocabulary and the like. She encouraged me to form my own view/s on classic books and poems, and always encouraged my efforts. Thankyou Mrs Mann!

        • profile image

          JoshK47 5 years ago

          Very interesting read... though I hope that this isn't the future, I rather like the idea of human teachers sticking around.

        • profile image

          getmoreinfo 4 years ago

          I was just reading about how in manufacturing robots are being used to increase productivity and efficiency, I am really concerned that using a robot in the classroom could not be as efficient.

        • NibsyNell profile image

          NibsyNell 4 years ago

          My favourite teachers were always the ones who would go on half hour monologues about stuff completely unrelated to their subjects. I do worry that these robots would probably not possess this quality.

        • secondlanguagel profile image

          secondlanguagel 4 years ago

          As a teacher, I know that nothing beats real human interaction. The Socratic, Platonic, Aristotlean methods are still best: intimate conversations of genuine inquiry. A robot can never do that.Very interesting, though, is that Fluenz challenges Rosetta Stone on those same grounds.

        • BarbRad profile image

          Barbara Radisavljevic 4 years ago from Templeton, CA

          @secondlanguagel: That is interesting. I guess they all lack the human element. I can tell you, though, that Rosetta stone may be much better than a bad teacher. I had a bad teacher for Russian one and his sarcasm when I had trouble differentiating sounds was humiliating. A robot at least is emotionally neutral, I hope.

        • SandyMertens profile image

          Sandy Mertens 4 years ago from Frozen Tundra

          Nothing better then the real thing. A robot may be fun to assist. But I hope it never comes down to a robot replacing a teacher here in the US.

        • Melissa Miotke profile image

          Melissa Miotke 4 years ago from Arizona

          I think teachers that take time to personally get to know their students and reach out to them in a way that works for each student are the most successful. Very interesting subject!

        • BarbRad profile image

          Barbara Radisavljevic 4 years ago from Templeton, CA

          @Melissa Miotke: The teachers I remember most favorably are those who did just that. Those teachers can never be replaced by a robot, but those who don't really care about the children may try to do it anyway. Let's hope not.

        • profile image

          anonymous 4 years ago

          I think it would be a grate idea, not only are you getting information of a robot you are getting information of a lot of smart people that programmed it.Morga :)

        • Rhonda Lytle profile image

          Rhonda Lytle 4 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

          The idea of robots with children is scary because it would be cost effective and districts might be tempted to replace humans. I think children have enough problems learning social skills with live humans to practice with.

        • Charito1962 profile image

          Charito Maranan-Montecillo 3 years ago from Manila, Philippines

          Hi. Nice lens. All I can say is that I still believe in HUMAN teachers who have a heart! Robots don't!

        • BarbRad profile image

          Barbara Radisavljevic 3 years ago from Templeton, CA

          @Charito1962: You're right about that. Teachers need heart.

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