Thursday, May 05, 2011

Avatar Teachers: Excellent Adventure Dude

Remember ‘Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ when the dudes go back in time to collect a gang of historical figures (Socrates, Abe Lincoln, Joan of Arc, etc) to bring back for their school history presentation?

Well education technology may be now bringing characters alive through Artificial Intelligence and Avatars to clone the best tutors, or even characters, to help teachers engage and teach students and make education more personal.

South Korea and Japan are developing robot tutors and South Korea has even stated its goal of having a robot tutor in every one of its 8,400 kindergartens by the end of 2013. However, these Roberts just follow a script and don’t really engage and interact on a personalised dialogue with the student.

Now Intellitar, an Alabama-based technology company is actively working on creating cloned avatars that will interact. The avatars look like their human counterparts, in both appearance and mannerisms and Intellitar plan to combine curriculum content and an intelligent Avatar.

There is a Benjamin Franklin avatar who blinks and smiles and responds to typed inquiries about early America and the Declaration of Independence. The object being is to engage students by taking on different personas and compliment the teachers and textbooks with a living point of reference. Just like Bill and Ted did in their excellent adventure.

The wife of Intellitar co founder Walter Remus is a Chemistry teacher at Sparkman High in Alabma. Brenda Remus is now developing her avatar and plans to have some 10 lesson topics ready over the summer. She says, “I’m looking forward to working on it this summer for those kids who are out of school because they’re sick, or if they need possible tutoring down the line.”

Whether you are hoping to brush up on the Declaration of Independence or Remus’s chemistry, the use of AI and robotic technology looks like it is coming to the classroom and it will not be long before the ‘flat’ screen avatar is replaced with a hologram image and then we truly would have some potentially excellent adventures!

To experience Benjamin Franklin

To experience Brenda Remus

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