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It's teaching, but not as we know it

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While scanning your food at the self-service checkout, or topping up your Oyster card at the ticket machine, have you ever found yourself wondering when a computer might be doing your job? For teachers at St Clement Danes School in Hertfordshire, this is already a reality: the school has hired robotic teachers.

Well… almost. The three bots are not exactly leading any classes, but they have joined the school and are, apparently, breathing (artificial) life into pupils’ learning experiences.

The Meccanoid G15 KS robots are buildable and programmable androids. Funded by the school’s parents’ association, the robots have been introduced to the computing, technology and psychology departments, with the aim of engaging students through a series of hands-on, problem-solving lessons.

Computing teacher Carl Taylor explains some of the uses: “Using the robot’s unique LIM [learned intelligent movement] system and a mobile app, we can show how he can be programmed in order to carry out a repetitive action. It will also truly develop the idea of computational thinking and algorithms.”

So far, it’s been a success. Year 7 computing classes have begun building and programming one of the bots, while Year 13 psychology pupils are using them to examine independent versus predetermined actions.

The school has high hopes that through enlivening these subjects, students will not only become more engaged in class, but will also seriously consider future jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics…so long as robots haven’t already claimed them that is.

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