Accessible Robotic Programming for Students with Disabilities (ARoPability)
Robotics-based activities has been shown to encourage non-traditional students to consider careers in computing and has even been adopted as part of core computer-science curriculum at a number of Universities. Unfortunately, the concept of non-traditional student in this arena has not traditionally extended to encompass students with visual or physical impairments. As such, this research investigated the use of alternative interface modalities to engage students with disabilities in robotics-based programming activities. We focused on answering questions such as “What characteristics of robotics-based activities need to be transformed to engage students with visual impairments?” “What technologies can be adapted to enable achievement of robotics-based programming activities for students with physical impairments?” “Are there existing teaching modalities already employed by educators that can be used to train these new computing professionals?” and “What methods can be exploited to broaden participation in computing for students with visual or physical impairments?” Originally funded by NSF, this effort primarily targets elementary and middle school students with disabilities in order to engage during the critical years and hosted a number of robotics camps in conjunction with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the Center for the Visually Impaired, and the National Federation of the Blind. We have continued this effort and host our own camps with funding from the Linda J. and Mark C. Smith Endowed Chair funds.
A Socially-Interactive Robotic Tutor
Adaptive learning is an educational method that utilizes computers as an interactive teaching device. Intelligent tutoring systems, or educational agents, use adaptive learning techniques to adapt to each student’s needs and learning styles in order to individualize learning. Effective educational agents should accomplish two essential goals during the learning process – 1) monitor engagement of the student during the interaction and 2) apply behavioral strategies to maintain the student’s attention when engagement decreases. To fill the gap between computer-based education and human tutors, it has been theorized that robotic-based education (RBE) can approach the effectiveness of human tutors by coupling methods in computer-based education with human-equivalent behavioral cues of engagement. As such, in this research, we designed such a robotic educational agent that uses social-interaction for re-engagement during the learning process.
Mars 2020 (Retired 2012)
Computer adventure games has grown in appeal to the younger generation, and yet, exposure to adventure games alone does not provide direct mechanisms to improve computer-science related skills. As such, we have developed a robotic adventure game that embeds high-level computer science concepts as part of the game scenario. The explicit purpose of this delivery mechanism is to introduce middle school students to fundamental concepts of programming. The underlying model is that by capitalizing on the popularity of computer games to teach basic computer science concepts to younger students, we can increase their desire to pursue a STEM-related career in the future. These robotics and computer science concepts were taught through a number of Saturday and summer middle-school camps held at Georgia Tech throughout the year.
ARTSI (Retired 2012)
The ARTSI (Advancing Robotics Technology for Societal Impact) Alliance is a collaborative education and research project centered around robotics for healthcare, the arts, and entrepreneurship. Spelman College, a historically black college (HBCU) for women led the alliance in partnership with several other HBCUs and Research I (R1) institutions. Georgia Institute of Technology was one of the R1 members with a focus on training and mentoring in the area of healthcare robotics.