Little Lucy helps you learn

Lucy is one of the new emotionally intelligent robots developed by Professor Rajiv Khosla at La Trobe University. It is a collaborative effort across nations , in particular with Japan. There’s that word again – collaboration. Nothing of significance is achieved or created these days without collaboration. Lucy was originally designed to help with dementia and aged care patients but has now branched out into helping autistic people in a very significant way. In the SBS article Robots ‘help autistic children learn’ mother and nurse Yvonne Cartwright articulates extremely well what Lucy has done for her two autistic children but she also articulates views which resonate with any teacher. Robots are computers. We may personify them and identify with them as being like people but they are hardware and software. They will repeat things over and over. They will do what they are programmed to do . They are as clever as we can currently make them and will develop as we use them to engage with real people and then have experts like Professor Rajiv Khosla who will patiently, and seemingly happily, use his knowledge and network to improve the capacity of the robot to do and be more. Cognitive computing is making a difference in the lives of real people . It is allowing them to connect with others and it is allowing them to develop their personalities. It is also improving what they know and can do. Robots will repeat and repeat and repeat and not tire of it. In a real classroom they could provide some engaging help in lots of ways and they sound like they can develop linguistic skills so it would be good to have a Lucy in language learning classrooms. Finally, the future is here. Yvonne Cartright sums it up for teaching in the article:

“We don’t celebrate them finishing high school or uni, we celebrate those light bulb moments where you see sheer joy in your children’s face by something they’ve done, and they know they’ve achieved something.”

We don’t finish anything. We are on a learning continuum and as robots become available to us we shall be learning with them and teaching them how to achieve something else.

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