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Learning to write with a robot

The CoWriter Project aims at exploring how a robot can help children with the acquisition of handwriting, with an original treatment: the children are the teachers who help the robot to better write! This paradigm, known as learning by instructing. has several powerful effects: it boosts the children’ self-esteem (which is especially significant for children with handwriting difficulties), it get them to practise hand-wrtiing without even noticing, and engage them into a particular interaction with the robot called the Protégé effect. because they unconsciously feel that they are somehow responsible if the robot does not succeed in improving its writing abilities, they commit to the interaction. and make particular efforts to figure out what is difficult for the robot, thus developing their metacognitive abilities and reflecting on their own errors .

Understand the project in Four minutes

How does it works?

As you can see in the movie above, the children and the robot interact through a tactile tablet: the child prepares a word with petite magnet letters, the robot write the word on the tablet, and the child correct the bad letters with the tablet’s stylus, either by rewriting the entire word, or only specific letters.

When the child is sated, he moves on to the next word. The picture below shows an example of such a brief text, written by the robot with the help of a 6 years old “teacher”:

Under the box, the robot runs an algorithm known as a Principal Component Analysis that permits to automatically identify the main differences within a dataset of letter’s samples. By manipulating the values of these differences, the robot can generate purposefully deformed letters, or letters that converge towards the ones demonstrated by the child, thus effectively “learning” from the child.

Open Positions – Postdoc

The CHILI Lab is presently looking for two post-docs:

  • A postdoc with practice in learning analytics or with practice in machine learning plus some interest to apply it to educational data. The postdoc will be working on two research projects at the convergence of data sciences and learning technologies. The position should be packed ASAP.
  • A postdoc with practice in learning technologies with practice or interest in vocational education (e.g. training carpenters). The postdoc will be managing research projects within the Swiss Leading House for research on LEarning Technologies for Vocationa Educartion. Speaking germann is necessary; speaking SwissGermann would be a killer! The position should be packed ASAP.

EPFL is usualy ranked in the top-5 European Universities in Sciences and Technology. The CHILI Lab counts about 20 researchers working on various projects in learning anayltics, educational robotics, augmented reality for education, etc. We suggest competitive salary, a good working environment in the shores of Lake of Geneva, in Switzerland. You can ski in the morning, sail in the afternoon and visit most major European cities within 1 hour flight. Your office is located in the prestigious Rolex Learning Center.

For inquiry, contact [email protected]

Related video: Watson Critical Thinking Assessment Overview – Erisman

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