Will Robots Ever Replace Teachers?

Will Robots Ever Replace Teachers?

AI advancements have showcased unprecedented advancement since the advent of the 2020s. There has been continuous integration of robotics with AI, Machine Learning, and other capabilities in a wide spectrum of industries.

Today, we have precision-based surgical options, Generative AI, and many other tools that streamline a wide array of work. It cuts down the cost of operations and provides a better return on investment for businesses.

This begs the question - Will it also disrupt the education industry? Will AI replace Teachers and other essential pillars of education? Let's explore further on the topic: 

Introduction To India's First Robot Teacher In Kerala 

Makerslab Edutech stands at the forefront of the dawn of AI and robot teachers in India. The company has managed to provide a working prototype of the robot teacher named IRIS.

While the project was still in the beginning stage, it managed to garner global-scale attention for the successive interaction with the students. 

IRIS was part of Makerslab Edutech, a company that aims to make learning fun for children. It is part of the Atal Tinkering Lab for 2021's NITI Aayog Project.

The project's focal point was to boost students' extracurricular prospects. Hence, IRIS was introduced first at KTCT Higher Secondary School in Thiruvananthapuram. 

What Did IRIS Manage To Deliver?

Iris showcased proficiency in three languages - Hindi, English, and Malayalam. However, it is possible to leverage the existing AI language models and translation tools to help her learn more languages.

Much like the famous Chitti the Robot from Rajnikant's movie, Iris didn't show human emotions or empathy in the voice. Yet, it managed to interact with the students, especially by shaking hands and providing proper answers to the questions raised.  

The Scope of Improvements in Iris 

It is pivotal to understand and acknowledge that Iris was at the beginning stage of development in 2021 when it was presented. While there haven't been any notable updates from the company, it isn't meant to be a gimmick, either.

There will likely be a wide spectrum of improvements that will take advantage of the current Machine Learning, AI, and Cognitive Science to provide excellent breakthroughs in the realm of robot teachers. 

Iris, adorned in a saree, still managed to receive the title of 'India's first robot teacher in Kerala' and could pave a new way towards modern education. 

The Essential Aspects of Human Teachers 

Let's discuss the potential of a robot teacher replacing a human teacher. First, we need to consider the inevitable factor that AI, Robots, and other tools are indeed replacing the human workforce at an alarming rate. However, while it has cut down the workforce requirements, resources, and time consumption, it still needs human supervision. It would help if you had a human being to operate these tools and robotics and take complete advantage of AI. 

With that being said, let's explore the multi-facet responsibilities of a teacher in modern education:

Education Is More Than Information Provision

If you look back at Iris, she managed to provide answers to the questions. But you can find these answers online, as well. In many aspects, Irin was like the smart assistants like Alexa, Siri, Bixby, and Google Assistant.

You can similarly use these to improve your self-learning prospects further, but it won't tell you everything you need to know.

Correlatively, a teacher doesn't just deliver content and information; they:

  • Provide proper motivation to the students and attempt to awaken their interest in the subject.
  • Facilitate various skills like critical thinking, cognitive development, creativity, and problem-solving. 
  • Support students acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of each student and remember them by heart. 

A Teacher's Exclusive Attention To Students 

A teacher, as a human being, can show empathy and connect with the students. They understand the strengths and weaknesses of each student and can provide individual attention.

This branches out to various aspects like providing potential recommendations for additional classes, tutoring and more. A teacher also fulfils a wide spectrum of roles like reinforcing disciplines, teaching manners, and even taking necessary actions for the mistakes of the students. 

It will be challenging for an AI, or a robot teacher, to manage to individually access each student's strengths, and weaknesses and to tackle them with empathy. 

Bridging The Teaching Gaps - A Necessary Collaboration 

In the grand scheme of things, and for long-term sustainability, it makes more sense for a robot teacher and a human teacher to work together. The collaboration can solve the issues that will be faced in terms of social responsibility and ethics. 

Data privacy is a massive issue in today's digitally advanced world. The advent of robot teachers could further reinforce that and make it impossible for the students to trust the robot. However, if a human teacher works alongside a robot teacher, there will be a holistic advancement in modern education. 

A Teaching Enhancement 

Human teachers aren't perfect, and we can't expect them to know everything at all times. Even they might require revision on a subject or a topic. A robot teacher can provide all the essential resources, answers, and methodologies required for a teacher to answer a student's query. 

Moreover, the robot teacher can also leverage machine learning to understand the human aspects of behaviour and create a personalized approach for each student while mitigating any form of bias or favouritism. 

The Dynamic Adaptability 

The phenomenal performance of a robot teacher in providing information can dynamically improve a human teacher's skillset as they can work together with human intuition and machine learning capabilities to provide education. 

The human ability to adapt and learn more could complement the robot teacher's AI and machine learning to tackle modern education together.

The Bottom Line For Robot Teachers 

Even if Robots manage to replace teachers, it will be a long way down the line, probably decades. For now, AI, Machine learning and robot teachers will only provide the assistance needed to enhance the teaching capabilities.

Much like modern research tools, Ed-tech platforms, and self-learning resources, Robot teachers will be more of an asset and a tool for education for the time being.

However, it will certainly lay the foundation to revolutionize modern education as we know it

March 14, 2024