What if you are a teacher and really are into technologies? You might decide to do just like Malika and many other teachers around the world, and try out NAO, a humanoid robot that can help you in your daily work.

 

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Introducing NAO

NAO (pronounced “now”) is a 58-cm (23 in) tall humanoid robot created in 2006 by a French company called Aldebaran Robotics. This company was created by Bruno Maisonnier, a man who built his career upon two main sectors: informatics and banking. But he was also fascinated by robotics, so he decided in 2005 to take part into an uncommon adventure: the creation of a humanoid robot. That was the beginning of Aldebaran Robotics, a start up that started out with a few engineers and PhDs and now employs more than 300 people. NAO is an incredible robot, if you met him (yes him, not it!) you would think you leaped into a science fiction movie. He moves, recognises people, hears and even talks. Aldebaran Robotics has a vision for its walking, talking, dancing humanoid: It wants NAO to become a mainstream household helper that can wake you up in the morning, deliver a weather forecast, and even help the kids with their homework. But for now he became a star in the world of education. The most prestigious universities use him as a research platform (Carnegie Mellon, Berlin University, Stanford, Tokyo University, Harvard…). In more than 70 countries, he is used in computer and science classes, from primary school through to university. Thanks to NAO, students can learn programming in a fun and practical way. They can program him to walk, catch small objects and even dance!

But some teachers decided to use NAO to help them with subjects that have not much to do with robotics. Malika for example, teaches first year primary school in Paris suburbs. She has tried out NAO for a month before the summer break. While Malika taught part of her class how to write, a small group gathered around the android for a guessing game. This allows her students to learn about responsibility and how to deal with matters themselves. They become actors in their own learning while allowing her to work with another group.

More interesting, Aldebaran robotics has found NAO to be exceptional in an unexpected role as a classroom aid for children with autism. So in 2013 they created a package solution called ASK NAO, specially developed to assist special education teachers. Kids with autism are drawn to the friendly-looking robot and sometimes learn better by interacting with NAOs than with their human teachers. Academic researchers — Aldebaran’s primary market for the $10,000 robots — were the first to notice the trend a few years ago while using NAOs to study robots in education. And now many special education teachers worldwide use (or want to use) NAO to help them with their classes. Aldebaran has developed more than 50 apps for NAO robots that are tailored to children with autism. Most are educational games, including one in which the robot acts out an emotion — anger, sadness, or surprise — and asks the child to identify it.

Jusk like Malika, if you are a teacher with programming skills, you can even write your own apps for the robot. Using Python programming language, any tech savvy teacher can develop his/her own programs to teach their kids in a fun and interactive way. A really interesting way to combine teaching and programming skills.

To learn more about Aldebaran Robotics and NAO visit : http://www.aldebaran.com/en

To learn more about ASKNAO visit: https://asknao.aldebaran.com

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