Here’s a new take on staff development: According to the Agence France-Presse and other news services, South Korea recently deployed 29 robots to teach in some 20 elementary schools. If all goes as planned, the country hopes to have robot teachers in all of its 8,400 kindergarten classrooms by 2013.
The hope apparently is that the robot teachers, which can wheel around and move their “arms” demonstratively, will help cut costs and decrease the country’s need to import foreign instructors to teach English. However, the machines, described as “telepresence bots,” don’t negate the need for human teachers entirely. At least as currently designed, they are controlled by educators in the Philippines. Also, they can only handle eight students at a time.
But—cue ominous-sounding music here—the engineers who created the robots are said to be working to make them more and more capable of the work of human teachers.
A version of this article appeared in the April 04, 2011 edition of Teacher PD Sourcebook