Joanne Bechta Dugan is Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Director of the Computer Engineering Programs at the University of Virginia She has being using the NAO Robot with her students and this is her story.
Prof. Joanne realized that the NAO Robot is the best tool for her when she saw the robot dancing "Gangnam Style" at the 2014 ASEE (American Society for Engineering Education) conference and she watched the crowds gather around.
Prof. Joanne uses the NAO robot in a grad course on Human-Robot interaction. Her students study the technical and social aspects of interactions between humans and robots as well as societal and ethical issues. Professor Dugan developed the courses half-lecture and half-lab. For her, a series of lab assignments allows the students to develop expertise in programming the robot to perform some task (usually a game) that requires interactions with a human.
The Labs assignments are 1-3 weeks long and the research project on experiential learning is multi-year.
Professor Joanne mentioned that a PhD student is developing a methodology based on deep learning for experiential learning and that he is using the NAO robot for his experiments. Another student is developing a model for the "inner life" of a robot with emotions, motivation and relationship aspects to the model.
What professor Dugan her students love most about NAO is the ease of getting started, the Graphical Programming interface and the ability to use other languages.
The educational impact that Professor Joanne has noticed is that using a physical robot makes everything clear and is different from simulation. "Working with robots makes learning tangible" she said.
The impact on the community and the rest of the district is really positive, The professor mentioned that she has found that working with robots in the Lab sparks discussions about society and ethics. This is the reason why they have a companion seminar course in which they read Science Fiction from Isaac Asimov and watch robot movies to discuss and evaluate the ethical and societal dimensions of robots and autonomous agents.
Awesome work from professor Joanne with the NAO robot, are you interested in having one? Ask for price quote request.