I call this research case as “a study of good mood and spirit”. Let me tell you why..
The long-term field study (3 months) of the language learning and teaching experiences with the social robot Elias (developed by Utelias Technologies) is already on the halfway. The study started in August 2018 and it includes user experience data gathering with several methods: classroom observations of English classes, interviews with the teachers, online questionnaires to be filled by parents based on the discussion with their kids. The study takes place in Tammela primary school, Tampere.
Today, it was the third observational session in class (out of four). Elias is used in this specific English class at least one a week. He teaches vocabulary by making kids to repeat, remember and discuss. Elias succesfully utilizes rewarding aspects in teaching. For example, “the candy eyes” (eyes suddenly changing to multicolored) is very much looked forward rewards by the kids. Activational tasks related to language learning are also very popular among the kids. For example, kids can play “Simon says” and ask Elias to act certain behaviors, and they can sing English songs with Elias.
Based on the observations in class, the language teacher Nina Pirttinokka has very successfully managed to integrate Elias to her teaching – Elias seems to be actually part of almost everything that she does with the kids in class. Sometimes Elias seems to live his own life, according to Nina. For example, Elias can suddenly start stretching or tell a joke. This kind of surprising behavior raises a lot of curiosity and interest among the kids. And the kids love to dance with Elias! Actually, when the class started to learn verbs today, the first example of verb came directly from the kids: “dancing”.
So, Elias is clearly part of the class, friend of everybody and a mascot of the school. It brings many surprises and a lot of joy for the school days in Tammela school. Also, every time when I come from the class observation, I feel very happy because of the positive atmosphere in class. That’s why I call this study as “a study of good mood and spirit” 🙂
Ps. Together with Utelias Technologies, we are now also conducting cross-cultural field studies in China and Arabic Emirates. But that is another story then…