South Korean Schools Introduce Egg-Shaped Robot Teachers

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Each android teacher is equipped with a screen displaying the face of a human avatar, and is controlled remotely by an actual instructor in the Philippines. It’s a way of outsourcing a job (educating children) that one would have thought had to be done in person. The Daily Mail reports:

Pupils often assume their teachers don’t really exist outside the school gates, now robot classroom assistants could make this a reality. Almost 30 egg-shaped robots have started teaching English at primary schools in South Korea.

The 3.3ft high machines have a TV panel that displays a female Caucasian face and can wheel around the classroom while speaking to the students. The robots are also able to read books and dance to music moving their head and arms.

But despite appearances the robots, developed the Korea Institute of Science of Technology, are not autonomous beings. They are actually controlled remotely by English teachers living in the Philippines, who can see and hear the children via a remote control system. Cameras then detect the teachers’ facial expressions and reflect them on the avatar’s face.

‘Well-educated, experienced Filipino teachers are far cheaper than their counterparts elsewhere, including South Korea,’ Sagong Seong-Dae, a senior scientist at KIST.

The robots will teach after-school classes at 21 schools in the south-eastern city of Daegu.

Apart from reading books, the robots use pre-programmed software to sing songs and play alphabet games with the children. Education official Kim Mi-Young, said: ‘The kids seemed to love it since the robots look, well, cute and interesting. But some adults also expressed interest, saying they may feel less nervous talking to robots than a real person.’

She said the robots are still being tested. But officials might consider hiring them full time if scientists upgrade them and make them easier to handle and more affordable. ‘Having robots in the classroom makes the students more active in participating, especially shy ones afraid of speaking out to human teachers,’ she said.

She stressed the robots, which cost £5,600 each, will provide extra support for teachers but not replace them.

Mr Seong-Dae added: ‘They won’t complain about health insurance, sick leave and severance package, or leave in three months for a better-paying job in Japan… all you need is a repair and upgrade every once in a while.’

31 Comments on "South Korean Schools Introduce Egg-Shaped Robot Teachers"

  1. Liam_McGonagle | Jan 13, 2011 at 5:28 pm |

    Hmmph! Radically inferior to the pear-shaped drones we have in our schools . . . .

    Okay, all kidding aside: What’s the message this is sending to kids? “You are basically an interchangable cog in the wheel and not worth my personal interaction?”

    I’d really be interesting in hearing the response to that.

  2. Liam_McGonagle | Jan 13, 2011 at 1:28 pm |

    Hmmph! Radically inferior to the pear-shaped drones we have in our schools . . . .

    Okay, all kidding aside: What’s the message this is sending to kids? “You are basically an interchangable cog in the wheel and not worth my personal interaction?”

    I’d really be interesting in hearing the response to that.

    • Hadrian999 | Jan 13, 2011 at 3:21 pm |

      the ultimate in telecommuting

    • Hadrian999 | Jan 13, 2011 at 3:22 pm |

      from some people i have known who grew up in s. korea that is the message they have always gotten.

    • justagirl | Jan 13, 2011 at 3:51 pm |

      no way. the kids would find every way possible to use the robot to their advantage in order to goof off in a regular classroom setting. plus, they would not be afraid of it… unless it has punishment capabilities (i.e. laser beams, taser guns, short circuit-smoking-anger melt-down simulation mode, etc.). the students would eventually run the classroom and the quality of education would decrease substantially. however, the robots could have a positive effect on the future of south korea’s confederacy.

      • Liam_McGonagle | Jan 13, 2011 at 3:58 pm |

        That’s awesome that you imagined these sociopathic school authorities actually arming these things with lasers! Touche, belle dame . . .

        You raise many interesting questions about the lengths children will go to in order to abuse these things. I’m sure it’s only a short matter of time until some kid gets send to the emergency ward for “electrocution by coitus”. It’s a fuckin’ sick, sick world out there . . . .

        • justagirl | Jan 13, 2011 at 4:32 pm |

          LOL! EW!!

        • Imagine this headline ” students in south Korea hack into teaching robot; the students objective was to get the robot to pass the students and override the teaching program turning it into an entertainment machine. They failed miserably when the robots security system went off, 120 people died in laser shooting frenzy and it eventually self destructed and sent half the school into shambles”

  3. Hadrian999 | Jan 13, 2011 at 7:21 pm |

    the ultimate in telecommuting

  4. Hadrian999 | Jan 13, 2011 at 7:22 pm |

    from some people i have known who grew up in s. korea that is the message they have always gotten.

  5. justagirl | Jan 13, 2011 at 7:51 pm |

    no way. the kids would find every way possible to use the robot to their advantage in order to goof off in a regular classroom setting. plus, they would not be afraid of it… unless it has punishment capabilities (i.e. laser beams, taser guns, short circuit-smoking-anger melt-down simulation mode, etc.). the students would eventually run the classroom and the quality of education would decrease substantially. however, the robots could have a positive effect on the future of south korea’s confederacy.

  6. Anonymous | Jan 13, 2011 at 7:58 pm |

    That’s awesome that you imagined these sociopathic school authorities actually arming these things with lasers! Touche, belle dame . . .

    You raise many interesting questions about the lengths children will go to in order to abuse these things. I’m sure it’s only a short matter of time until some kid gets send to the emergency ward for “electrocution by coitus”. It’s a fuckin’ sick, sick world out there . . . .

  7. Anonymous | Jan 13, 2011 at 7:58 pm |

    That’s awesome that you imagined these sociopathic school authorities actually arming these things with lasers! Touche, belle dame . . .

    You raise many interesting questions about the lengths children will go to in order to abuse these things. I’m sure it’s only a short matter of time until some kid gets send to the emergency ward for “electrocution by coitus”. It’s a fuckin’ sick, sick world out there . . . .

  8. justagirl | Jan 13, 2011 at 8:32 pm |

    LOL! EW!!

  9. Anonymous | Jan 13, 2011 at 8:33 pm |

    One question…why is it Caucasian?

  10. cosmicserpent | Jan 13, 2011 at 4:33 pm |

    One question…why is it Caucasian?

    • Liam_McGonagle | Jan 13, 2011 at 7:55 pm |

      Hmmm . . . could be a honkey. But the image seems kinda low-res black/white from here. Mebbe me eyes are going in my old age.

      But that does raise a question I’ve always had. I bet anything Dumbsaint knows the answer to this:
      Why are so many Japanese anime heroes/heroines portrayed as blonde/blue-eyed nordic types? Is there some type undercurrent of unspoken racial self-loathing in some East Asian subcultures? Or is it some type of artistic convention, completely independent of Western influence, that you need to know the history in order to accurately appreciate?

      • Hadrian999 | Jan 13, 2011 at 11:06 pm |

        you see that a lot in the philippines. I had a filipina girlfriend and she always thought white was better(I’m sure I benefited from this a little) you see their beauty products like whitening soap and their tv stars and hosts all seem barely asian at all

        • Lovelyladylibrarian | Mar 10, 2011 at 11:12 am |

          In general all races, as a result of white supremacy, try to emulate caucasion qualities.

      • Hadrian999 | Jan 14, 2011 at 3:24 pm |

        it says in the article that the robots display a Caucasian face, maybe they think the children will respond better to learning english from a white robot

        • Liam_McGonagle | Jan 14, 2011 at 3:34 pm |

          Good catch. That makes some sense. But I am still intrigued by the notion that there may be some type of racial self-loathing beneath the surface of at least some subcultures.

          Ironic, idn’t it? The folks who would be most justified to loathe themselves are the ones least likely to do so. I’m thinking of course of the white right in the U.S. who never seem tired of patting themselves on the back and giving out about the dangers of “racial contamination”–like that Pat Buchanan did a few years ago with that book “State of Emergency: Third World Invasion and Conquest of America”.

  11. Liam_McGonagle | Jan 13, 2011 at 11:55 pm |

    Hmmm . . . could be a honkey. But the image seems kinda low-res black/white from here. Mebbe me eyes are going in my old age.

    But that does raise a question I’ve always had. I bet anything Dumbsaint knows the answer to this:
    Why are so many Japanese anime heroes/heroines portrayed as blonde/blue-eyed nordic types? Is there some type undercurrent of unspoken racial self-loathing in some East Asian subcultures? Or is it some type of artistic convention, completely independent of Western influence, that you need to know the history in order to accurately appreciate?

  12. This isn’t too surprising from the country that boasts the best professional gamers in the world.

  13. This isn’t too surprising from the country that boasts the best professional gamers in the world.

  14. Hadrian999 | Jan 14, 2011 at 3:06 am |

    you see that a lot in the philippines. I had a filipina girlfriend and she always thought white was better(I’m sure I benefited from this a little) you see their beauty products like whitening soap and their tv stars and hosts all seem barely asian at all

  15. Hadrian999 | Jan 14, 2011 at 7:24 pm |

    it says it the article that the robots display a Caucasian face, maybe they think the children will respond better to learning english from a white robot

  16. Liam_McGonagle | Jan 14, 2011 at 7:34 pm |

    Good catch. That makes some sense. But I am still intrigued by the notion that there may be some type of racial self-loathing beneath the surface of at least some subcultures.

    Ironic, idn’t it? The folks who would be most justified to loathe themselves are the ones least likely to do so. I’m thinking of course of the white right in the U.S. who never seem tired of patting themselves on the back and giving out about the dangers of “racial contamination”–like that Pat Buchanan did a few years ago with that book “State of Emergency: Third World Invasion and Conquest of America”.

  17. I like how it say it will grab attention but in the picture there’s three girls in the corner talking a boy with head phones around his neck and girl in a grey sweater looks like she’s going to shit her self with anxiety

  18. I like how it say it will grab attention but in the picture there’s three girls in the corner talking a boy with head phones around his neck and girl in a grey sweater looks like she’s going to shit her self with anxiety

  19. Imagine this headline ” students in south Korea hack into teaching robot; the students objective was to get the robot to pass the students and override the teaching program turning it into an entertainment machine. They failed miserably when the robots security system went off, 120 people died in laser shooting frenzy and it eventually self destructed and sent half the school into shambles”

  20. Lovelyladylibrarian | Mar 10, 2011 at 3:12 pm |

    In general all races, as a result of white supremacy, try to emulate caucasion qualities.

Comments are closed.