She may be just a robot but has the attention of all the children in the class as she tells stories and also teaches them tables. Meet Shiksha, a robotic teacher whose appearance is that of a student and who has become popular in Sirsi, a city in Karnataka’s Uttara Kannada district.
This robot has been created by Akshay J. Mashelkar, a physics lecturer at MES Chaitanya Pre-University College who is a postgraduate in physics with specialisation in electronics and a B.Ed.
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Shiksha has inbuilt programmes in its mini-computer such as spelling, rhymes, match equations and storytelling. Currently, she has been developed to take classes for students up to fourth standard.
As the humanoid has movement and is not static her teaching is interactive. She nods her head and extends her hand when children give the right answers. For synonyms and antonyms, she extends both hands and for rhymes and tables, she extends only one.
Though the model is ready it has not been deployed anywhere officially but is going round several schools with both teachers and students eager to meet her.
Mashelkar wants to upgrade her in the next version by bringing in more features so that she can engage and teach students of high school also.
The idea of developing Shiksha came to him during the Covid-19 lockdown when the students had to opt for online classes on mobile or computers. Talking to PTI, Mashelkar said: “People wanted an interactive tool instead of taking lessons online in a boring way where no fun is involved. Fun in learning makes the classroom lively and grasping lessons becomes easy. That’s the reason I thought of this robot.”
Mashelkar was always fascinated by talking dolls, especially the Chinese ones which could make sounds and laugh. He knew that dolls will attract and engage students.
Shiksha’s voice has been provided by Shreya D, a student intern who worked on the robotic project.
Soon Mashelkar wants to go in for a commercial prototype of Shiksha and wants to bring more technological concepts to revolutionise the process of learning.