Canadian researchers have developed a robot called QTRobot to help children with learning difficulties. This robot is designed to help them focus on their studies. Students with learning disabilities may have difficulty in areas such as listening, speaking, reading, writing, math or problem solving. This can cause students to become distracted. Students need additional individualized support to fill the gaps in their education. A team of researchers and experts have developed a cute robot to help these students focus.
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There is research bringing social robots into classrooms to provide personalized support to children with and without learning disabilities. Most of the research has focused on children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). There has been little research on the use of robots to help children with learning disabilities in educational settings. For this new Canadian study, three engineer researchers from the University of Waterloo in Ontario and two experts from the Learning Disabilities Society in Vancouver collaborated. The star of the research is a robot called QTRobot.
QTRobot is part of a project originally developed in 2016 by Dr. Pouyan Ziafati and Dr. Aida Nazarikhorram. This robot is specifically designed to help children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The robot can move with its head and arms, make various gestures and speak. After the research, funded by the University of Luxembourg, the duo founded LuxAI, a company that develops and manufactures social robots.
Based on this research for children with ASD, they wanted to conduct research for students with learning disabilities. The team conducted research to analyze how students with learning disabilities interact with a social robot and how introducing a robot into the classroom affects students and teachers. In the first study where the robot was tested with autistic children, there is also a video of the researchers explaining about the robot.
This study aims to investigate the potential benefits of social robots in the education of children with learning disabilities. 16 students took part in an experiment using a QT robot. The robot used different strategies to help students to pay attention. The results of the experiment showed that the QT robot helped students to be more engaged in lessons and exhibit less distracted behavior. Students described the robot as friendly, intelligent and fun. Building on this study, the researchers will continue to investigate the further use of the QT robot in education for children with learning disabilities.