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Learning with the robot fellow student - Unique project at the University of Würzburg


There is a robot tutorial at the University of Würzburg. Learning with Pepper has proven itself and the results of the students have improved significantly.

There is a robot tutorial at the University of Würzburg.

Learning with Pepper has proven itself and the results of the students have improved significantly.

Würzburg – Everyone now knows Alexa, Siri or simply Google.

Talking computers are no longer a rarity.

But the University of Würzburg even goes one step further.

Here the computer voice has been given a body.

The child-sized robot is called Pepper and is intended to help media informatics students learn.

University of Würzburg relies on robot tutor for learning

Responsible for the project at the University of Würzburg is Professor Dr.

Birgit Lugrin.

She has hired the small, white learning robot with a tablet in front of her chest.

Because Pepper's relatives were actually not only developed for learning.

The electronic helpers are used particularly in social areas.

“This ranges from use in retirement homes to medical applications and the treatment of autism in children.

Education is also a central area, but here we mainly work with children.

In university teaching, the use is quite unusual,” explains the computer science professor when asked by



When working with the students, Pepper adapts individually to their level of knowledge.

© Lutz Ziegler / University of Würzburg

In Würzburg, Pepper – who, by the way, is a lady, Birgit Lugrin herself isn't quite sure why – is used to prepare the material for lectures Media Informatics 1 and 2.

Of the 150 participants, 50 to 60 students have already used the services of their fellow robot student.

At Pepper's side is usually doctoral student Melissa Donnermann, who is writing her dissertation on the topic "Benefits of Robotic Tutors in Higher Education" - roughly translated, advantages of robot tutors in higher education.

“Pepper offers one-on-one tutorials.

These are designed for adaptive learning, so it adapts to the level of knowledge of the students, notes learning successes and adapts the tasks accordingly."

(By the way: Our Bayern newsletter informs you about all the important stories from Bavaria. Register here.)

Video: Robots are now also helping out in restaurants and canteens

Two advantages for students when learning with Pepper

But learning programs for the PC or the classic study group have been around for a long time.

So what makes practicing with Pepper so special?

"This is where the social component comes into play," explains Donnermann.

"Pepper addresses the participants by name, she praises them every now and then, makes eye contact and gestures." Studies show that such aspects are definitely important when learning.

This is also confirmed by the feedback from the students: "They think it's great to give praise, because that kind of thing rarely happens in everyday university life with large lectures and seminars."

Pepper doesn't just caress the students' egos.

It also obviously helps to become more successful.

The results in the exams have improved significantly, Lugrin confirms.

This includes the learning units with the small robot as test person hours as part of the so-called SONA system.

So a win-win situation.

And Pepper could still mature into the right long-term student.

She is already helping her fellow students in the sixth semester.


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Source: merkur

All news articles on 2023-01-26

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