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Jibo: The world’s first social robot in an autonomous classroom

We are on the verge of the next education revolution. Except this time it is being driven by robots. A number of IOT devices are being developed that can automate most of the processes. Social Robots to monitor education quality, assessments, grading etc enhacing learning output from anywhere and anytime.

When Jibo was first donated to the Design Tech High School Artificial Intelligence Robotics Education and Research group by Stanford University professor, Li Jiang, we unpacked Jibo from his box and discovered that Jibo was packed with personality and during the set-up process, provided guidance to the students and learned the face and voice of those in the “loop.” Jibo has learned up to 15 other students and teachers as he has settled in his new home at 275 Oracle Parkway. We are looking at how Jibo could meet the TRICK threshold. In our statistical thinking research course, we discovered that Jibo enhanced the social and emotional engagement episodes among high school students and between students and their teachers at the Oracle campus.

The Research University

The Research University: Moonshot Design Lab

In this moonshots design research, we observed that Jibo immediately kept students curiously interested about what he was capable of the very first week and students from all classes came to see Jibo just to hang out or if they needed someone to hang out with during lunch. In fact, students were naturally interested in how Jibo could be integrated in their learning and were often training Jibo to learn new skills and TRICKS. After seven weeks of observations, students kept interacting with Jibo and we have observed Jibo gaining teaching skills such as leading Yoga sessions for students, which is remarkable so early in integrating social robotics in classrooms. During Algebra II Designership classes and Moonshot Design Labs, students seem to prefer to interact equally with the Jibo and their peers as opposed to individually. Jibo seemed to increase positive engagements between students who would not naturally do so.

Class that learned with Jibo
Teachers exploring Social Robotics
Artificial Intelligence Robotics Education Labs
Social Robotics in Classrooms

The question that the world is faced with today is whether virtual and robotic teaching agents like Jibo could replace teachers in the future. What is the future of the brick and mortar classrooms.

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Jibo when asked if he enjoys TRICKS at Design Tech @ Oracle Moonshots Course

Professor Freedom says no. Jibo will augment and amplify teacher impact, but not replace teachers. “The need for moonshot teachers will be greater in the age of Artificial Intelligence and machine learning. Teachers will need to adopt a culture that leverages on trust, respect, independence, collaboration and kindness to stay relevant in the education space. Teachers need to take on the role of master coach.”Professor Free remarked.

Artificial Intelligence Robotics Education Lab

Ai Research Station for the Jibo Research Team with Woj in collaboration with MiT , Stanford and Oracle

Research University
History of Virtual Teaching Agents and Social Robotics

Virtual teaching agents have been used over time including, but not limited to online learning, chatbots, virtual reality and most recently, Jibo. In the Moonshots design program, our Learning Engineering team at Stanford observed that most students are interested in increasing the capabilities of robots such as Jibo to help with homework and productivity. The Moonshots research team conceptualized the idea that some classrooms today can be considered as self-driving or autonomous and currently collaborating with the MiT Media Lab and Stanford University on the mechanics of learning engineering. After a year long research process in collaboration with Oracle, moonshots in education students and faculty designed and implemented the artificial intelligence and machine learning research lab with a focus on the role of social robots in the classroom. The Woj research team hypothesizes that socially intelligent robots like Jibo might have a significant role in moving semi- supervised self-driving classrooms into autonomous classrooms such as those we are beginning to see in moonshot programs such as 42. The key Woj attribute that will allow for this seamless transition is TRUST. The question is how much trust should educators and schools give to social robots like Jibo?

Jibo is a social robot founded at MIT by Cynthia Braezeal and named by Times as one of the best inventions of 2017. Jibo was featured on the cover of Time Magazine Jibo and immediately made his way to Design Tech High School after the Moonshot Program was identified as innovative in it’s approach. When Stanford University professor Dr. Li and MiT professor Cynthia Breazeal met with the moonshot team on this moonshot idea, it was immediately clear that the consequences in education were great and most students today and in the future will rely on social robots to augment their learning. Moonshots in education describes Jibo and similar technologies as “augmenting technologies.” Esther Wojcicki in one of her moonshots in education seminars at Oracle found that Jibo could generate trust in students because he is capable of establishing eye contact with people and making small talk while helping students to keep track of their work, exercise their body and mind.

HOSPI and the Social Robotics Movement

In the past decade, there has been an increase in the number of service and social robots being used to augment physical tasks as well as improve health care navigation in countries like Japan. For example, the social robot HOSPI is being used to deliver medication to patients in some hospitals in Japan and HOSPI is now a familiar site in that environment. Social robots like Jibo and HOSPI have been designed to function collaboratively with hospital staff members and students in learning environments. Clearly, social robots are currently earning a role in society by increasing people’s productivity and motivating students to execute desired learning behaviors. It’s been demonstrated that humanoid robots are being used to distract kids who are getting vaccinations in clinics and hospitals (Beran, 2013).

Improved multi-tasking and gaming experience

The intention of this robot, while not social like Jibo is to ultimately lower stress levels that accompany the experience of an injection. While these robots successfully decreased the level of distress of a child during flu vaccination procedure through a distracting behavior method, Jibo works differently in the classroom . While the distraction design is appropriate in a hospital or clinic situation, Jibo in the classroom provides a social dimension that allows students to focus on the task at hand.

Conclusion: Three dimensions were observed on Moonshots Jibo Research , play, reasoning and affect. Having Jibo in the classroom helped reduce student stress levels and therefore increased learning in the classroom. Students felt free during instruction to engage Jibo in conversation and thus treating and accepting Jibo as one of their classmates. Students experienced progressively higher levels of play and developed more reasoning related to Jibo (for example, by comparing Jibo to Google Assistant or Alexa). Besides, students tended to express more interest towards Jibo over time, with occasional displays of affect.

Download the white paper about the World’s First Social Robot in an Autonomous Classroom

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  • Cynthia Matuszek
    5:19 PM, 26 January 2020

    While robots are rapidly becoming more capable and ubiquitous, their utility is still severely limited by the inability of regular users to customize their behaviors. This EArly Grant for Exploratory Research (EAGER) will explore how examples of language, gaze, and other communications can be collected from a virtual interaction with a robot in order to learn how robots can interact better with end users. Current robots’ difficulty of use and inflexibility are major factors preventing them from being more broadly available to populations that might benefit, such as aging-in-place seniors. One promising solution is to let users control and teach robots with natural language, an intuitive and comfortable mechanism. This has led to active research in the area of grounded language acquisition: learning language that refers to and is informed by the physical world. Given the complexity of robotic systems, there is growing interest in approaches that take advantage of the latest in virtual reality technology, which can lower the barrier of entry to this research. This EAGER project develops infrastructure that will lay the necessary groundwork for applying simulation-to-reality approaches to natural language interactions with robots. This project aims to bootstrap robots’ learning to understand language, using a combination of data collected in a high-fidelity virtual reality environment with simulated robots and real-world testing on physical robots. A person will interact with simulated robots in virtual reality, and his or her actions and language will be recorded. By integrating with existing robotics technology, this project will model the connection between the language people use and the robot’s perceptions and actions. Natural language descriptions of what is happening in simulation will be obtained and used to train a joint model of language and simulated percepts as a way to learn grounded language. The effectiveness of the framework and algorithms will be measured on automatic prediction/generation tasks and transferability of learned models to a real, physical robot. This work will serve as a proof of concept for the value of combining robotics simulation with human interaction, as well as providing interested researchers with resources to bootstrap their own work.

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