Friday, December 28, 2012

English-teaching Robot

South Korea has developed an English-teaching robot, named “Engkey.” The name is said to be "a contraction of English jockey (as in disc jockey)". South Korea wants its children to learn English, but it has been extremely expensive to import teachers from English-speaking countries. So this is a money-saving device. The teachers are in the Philippines, and communicate via telepresence using embedded microphones and speakers. The robot has a screen for a "head" with the face of a blond female. This design is said to be "for the students to feel that Engkey is approachable and not intimidating."
It is an interesting topic to discuss with engineering students: to what extent can technology replace teachers of language? Students can judge how effectively this robot can do the job, and which features the robot should have.

Here is an article from the New York Times about this robot:
This website includes a link to a video of teaching robots (time is 3:23).

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