Robot introduced to lessons

Researchers at Pyongyang Teachers Training College test a humanoid robot to be used for lessons.

“The education support robot we’ve developed analyses, assesses and displays the overall educational administrative work,” said Pak Je Hyok, director of the educational technology institute of Pyongyang Teachers Training College.

The robot has teaching control and support functions. It tells lecturers optimal teaching methods as it analyses and assesses in real time their lectures and students’ study processes in class. It also gives them immediate answers to the questions the teachers find very difficult to respond to.

It displays information on lecturers’ performances and tells them the relevant part of the analyses of their attainments, the merits and demerits revealed in lectures and other educational affairs.

For its interactive feature, the robot easily recognizes anyone’s voice and explains its usage, which enables even non-professionals to use it readily.

However, there has been a considerable debate about whether to introduce such robot into lectures in different countries.

The opponents, above all, have misgivings about the new.

They argue that if a lecturer fails to operate the robot skilfully or it does not work properly in class, it will spoil the lecture. Moreover, they claim, it might result in students’ inattention to lectures as they are at the inquisitive age.

They also assert it might hurt the authority and pride of lecturers.

Such lecturers are dissatisfied with the “violation” of sacred lecture and platform. In particular, capable teachers question the necessity of the robot, saying they have done a good job without it.

“Of course, there are some valid points in their arguments as the robot is still on the way to be perfect. But I want to remind them of an episode about the 19th-century English physicist Faraday. He had asked a lady deriding his invention, DC dynamo, what babies were for,” said Kim Hyon Sil, vice-rector for science of the college.

“Rapidly-developing reality annually generates a wealth of data, imposing more and more weight on lecturers. Education should go ahead of, not behind, the reality, and it cannot be claimed to be education without preparation for the future. Therefore, we will strive to nurture the ‘baby’ and enrich our experience through research into such cutting-edge technologies as artificial intelligence.”