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Can Non-Humanoid Social Robots Reduce Workload of Special Educators : An Online and In-Premises Field Study (Joint work with Academy for severe handicaps and Autism)

Series: ICRA Conference practice talk

Speaker: Ms. Nabanita PaulPh.D (Engg.) studentDept. of CSA (This is a practice talk for a paper to be presented next week at ICRA conference)

Date/Time: May 28 16:00:00

Location: Microsoft Teams - Online

Faculty Advisor: Prof. Chiranjib Bhattacharyya

Socially Assistive Robotics have been used in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) interventions, such studies often exclude Special Educators (SEs) and often use expensive humanoid robots. In this paper, we investigate whether non-humanoid toy robots can act as teaching aids in ASD Education, in particular, can they reduce the workload of SEs. We target two most common yet divergent problems from Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) of ASD children - communication and gross motor skills. We present results from three studies a) toy robot Cozmo assists SEs in verbal lessons in school premises, b) mini drone Tello helps SEs in exercise lessons in school premises, and c) Cozmo, SEs, and ASD children connect remotely, as mandated due to the Covid-19 pandemic, for verbal lessons. All three studies showed improvement in learning outcomes and reduction in prompts from the SEs, denoting reduced workload. The effect of a robots virtual presence in online ASD interventions has not been studied before. However, our results show that children spent more time on lessons in online intervention with Cozmo, suggesting that using robots should also be considered when designing online interventions. Furthermore, the roles of Cozmo were analyzed, and we found children showed increased spontaneous interaction when Cozmo acts as a Co-Instructor. Thus, preliminary results indicate toy robots, as opposed to expensive humanoids, may have significant potential in aiding SEs in Autism education.

Speaker Bio:
Nabanita is a PhD student in Machine learning lab under Prof. Chiranjib Bhattacharya in CSA dept., IISc . Her current interest is creating behaviour models for Social Robots to be used in autism education, and in general, other neuro-developmental disorders.

Microsoft teams link:

Host Faculty: Prof. Chiranjib Bhattacharyya