Anna Torres Garrote
Named Botter, the prototype signals encouragement and can also show its disappointment if a student isn't making good progress
The UOC has created Botter, a robot prototype based on the Internet of Things. The idea is to enhance the online learning process by providing students with guidance at all times. Botter is a physical robot, can interact in various ways (for example by means of sound, light or movement) and has access to data on how the student is progressing. To help bring the robot to life, the project sought participation from both the eLearn Center and Seidor, a multinational consultancy firm specializing in digital technology.
Depending on the extent to which the student is meeting the objectives and following the schedule for their programme, the robot emits vibrations, noises and words of encouragement. The prototype is also capable of expressing disappointment if it detects that the student isn't making sufficient progress on their personal learning plan.
The idea for the project grew from work by a teaching and research team made up of psychology and IT staff from the UOC, which identified a series of factors key to ensuring the success of online learning environments. As Beni Gómez-Zúñiga – one of the professors from the Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences – explained, one such factor is "the ability to offer students a personalized plan, as well as technology and communication channels that can arouse and hold their interest over extended periods of time, through gamification and improved levels of support".
According to Francesc Santanach, from the UOC's eLearn Center, Botter represents "a new means of closer, more personalized and more effective communication with students, because instead of a screen it uses objects we have closer contact with. It's also a major step forward in the application of cognitive technologies for learning processes."
Baptista Borrell – director of Seidor2learn, Seidor's education sector business unit, which is currently the provider of management and maintenance services for the UOC's learning environment – added that "feelings are a key aspect, because they can alter people's behaviour and result in commitments that are essential to the learning process".
This initiative was presented at SIMO Educación, a learning technology exhibition of key importance for those working on how to involve ICTs in new models of education.
Beni Gómez Zúñiga
Lecturer in the Psychology and Education Sciences Department
Expert in: Psychology of health; quality of life and the use of ICT for prevention and health promotion; the historical and epistemological development of psychology as a scientific discipline.
Knowledge area: Basic psychology.