2018-04-26 – VR & AI Robots

Transcript of the Virtual Worlds Education Roundtable: April 26, 2018

2018-04-26 VWER - VR & AI Robots_003

Topic: VR & AI Robots

Will VR and AI Robots Transform Education? Can virtual reality and artificially intelligent robots upend the role of teacher and dramatically change education?


Camie Rembrandt: Hi everyone! Welcome to the Virtual Worlds Education Roundtable. VWER is a forum to educate and inform the community about issues that are important and relevant to education in virtual worlds. We meet for an hour every Thursday at 12 Noon SLT. This is a public meeting and we will be keeping and publishing a transcript.

Camie Rembrandt: Since 2008, VWER has been developing a community of educators from around the world. Please join the VWER group here in SL, and if you are on Facebook, or Google+, please join our groups there as well. Also, find and post pictures to our Flickr group, and follow us on Twitter @VWER. When you blog or tweet about our meetings, please remember to include the hashtag #vwer.

Camie Rembrandt: This week’s topic is: Will VR and AI robots transform Education? Can virtual reality and artificially intelligent robots/avatars upend the role of teacher and dramatically change education?

Nina Lancaster: This is going to be great session and hot topic 🙂

Camie Rembrandt: This will be a discussion in text chat, and I’m moderating today. As usual, let’s start as we normally do and introduce ourselves.

Sheila Yoshikawa: I teach and research in the Information School, University of Sheffield, UK, and I’ll be OMG 11 next thursday!

Dodge Threebeards: I am Greg Perrier in RL, a biologist, and manage the SL sim of the Northern Virginia Community College.

ThinkererSelby Evans (Thinkerer Melville): Selby Evans, Blogger,  Challenge-based education and self-managed learning: on the same team! https://virtualoutworlding.blogspot.com/2018/04/2018-edu-challenge-based-education-and.html

Camie Rembrandt: Writer, Digital Storyteller, Independent e-Learning Professional, and Certified Professional/Vocational Trainer with a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (endorsed in E-Learning Pedagogy).  VWER Moderator on SL and FB.

Beth Ghostraven: I’m Beth Ghostraven, middle school teacher-librarian in RL and owner of the Book and Tankard Pub in Victoria City, Caledon in SL; owner of Ghostraven Professional Attire, classic clothing for educators in SL (http://bethghostraven.com ; Communications Chair for the VWBPE Conference; Communications Chair and Focus Sessions Producer for the ISTE Virtual Environments Network; and unofficial liaison between education groups in SL.For information on events for the educational groups that I work with, see the ISTE VEN Massive Open Online Calendar at http://venetwork.weebly.com/calendar.html; Twitter: @booklady9 I’ll be taking photos to publish with the transcript; if you have any objection, please IM me.

Nina Lancaster: I am Gina I am a trainer and vle education expert

Darkejade Tempest (Darkejade): I’m Darkejade,  an academic librarian from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI  United States

Kali Pizzaro: Evelyn McElhinney RN , PhD, Senior Lecturer Glasgow Caledonian Uni Scotland

Archivist Llewellyn: Archivist Llewellyn, librarian and archivist, just read my profile. lol

2018-04-26 VWER - VR & AI Robots_004

Camie Rembrandt: Today we’ll be discussing how VR and AI robots/avatars can impact Education. The idea for this topic came to me after reading “Opinion: Avatars will soon upend the role of teachers and transform education” by Alex Salkever, vice president of marketing communications at Mozilla. Mozilla products include the Firefox web browser and Pocket, among others. “Opinion: Avatars will soon upend the role of teachers and transform education” https://www.marketwatch.com/story/avatars-will-soon-upend-the-role-of-teachers-and-transform-education-2017-04-06 If you don’t mind, I’ll begin by sharing a few passages of that article with you.

Camie Rembrandt: The article was published a year ago, and in it Salkever states that: “While we aren’t at Strong AI yet, we already can educate all children much better using today’s technology than with more traditional methods in the classroom. That’s because computers provide reliable feedback, don’t get tired and can guide learning to emphasize areas where reinforcement is needed. Called adaptive learning, these systems already are in many schools and built into thousands of educational technology applications for phones, iPads and computers. Some are as simple as old-style flashcards that the software shuffles to push those questions that a student has struggled to answer into higher rotation. Machines are excellent at providing this sort of educational intervention, creating structure and reliability and progression. Where we have problems is with more generalized AI that could power avatars like Clifford and make them convincing teachers. Core to this is two capabilities. One is the ability to recognize how a human learns and then to test educational strategies and methods to find those best suited to each individual. The other is the ability to interact with humans on a more event footing — more like a person-to-person interaction rather than man-to-machine. The good news is we are making rapid progress in the technologies needed for both of these areas.Being able to match educational strategies and methods to individual learning styles is essentially a Big Data problem. More and more students are using tools that record how well different learning strategies and methods actually work. Right now, it’s a giant Tower of Babel with thousands and thousands of learning applications collecting data in their respective silos. More advanced data science techniques can take those diverse sets of data and distill them into more precise recommendations on which types of education strategies work better, and for which types of students. In essence, finding the right learning style becomes a pattern-matching exercise, not so different than finding the right clothes that fit your body type (which might seem unique to you but is actually, in all likelihood, very similar to bodies of millions of others on Earth).”

Camie Rembrandt: Salkever also states, that using Virtual Reality, an AI teacher he calls Clifford can “help students do everything from studying bird songs in the wild to examining the resiliency properties of redwood trees as if they are actually in the forest. Clifford also would speak fluent Mandarin and take me on a private tour of the Forbidden City while conversing with me in perfect Beijing dialect — at the precise speed required to both push my comprehension but not leave me befuddled. Of course, the VR goggles and the sensors embedded in the synched-up smartphone or thin small headband will read all manner of biological indicators about our learning status…— pupil dilation, blood oxygen saturation, potentially even brainwave patterns signifying level of engagement and information absorption. (If this sounds Big Brother, it could be; I only hope that we will build proper privacy and data control mechanisms to let pupils and parents decide who can see their vital information about learning and biological responses). The world becomes the classroom and the classroom becomes the world. This isn’t to say that the real world goes away. To the contrary. The blending of the two, with our guide to teach us along the way, creates a seamless digital and analog learning space. The costs will be software, VR goggles and smartphones — and lots of very good coaches (once called teachers) who focus on the creative, motivational and communications aspects that are far harder to translate into the digital realm. That world isn’t here but it might be 10 or 15 years away. And it will be a better world for all — students, teachers, parents and society.”

Camie Rembrandt: That was the last excerpt I wanted to share with you. You can read the full article at: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/avatars-will-soon-upend-the-role-of-teachers-and-transform-education-2017-04-06

Camie Rembrandt: This is how Alex Salkever, in the tech industry, views this subject. What about your views as educators?

Camie Rembrandt: Do you think that virtual reality and artificially intelligent robots/avatars will upend the role of teacher and dramatically transform education?

Sheila Yoshikawa: Hi Marly

ThinkererSelby Evans (Thinkerer Melville): Yes, but not with a headpiece

Camie Rembrandt: Then how, Selby?

ThinkererSelby Evans (Thinkerer Melville): screens like we use

Archivist Llewellyn: Some people did attend the talk by my AI bot, Plutchik yesterday. It can give automated lectures, change slides in the PPT presentation, rez objects, and cue movies, as well as do gestures.

Camie Rembrandt: What did people think/feel, Llewellyn, about that?

Sheila Yoshikawa: I tend to have an adverse reaction to articles that say that  something or other will “upend the role of teacher and dramatically transform education”

Camie Rembrandt: Me too LOL–That’s why I wanted to bring that article into the discussion ;))

Sheila Yoshikawa: I think that it’s extending the ways in which teachers can design learning. You can design something else to do some of it, but I don’t think it downgrades you to a coach

Marly (Marly Milena): It’s not just the information that’s important; it’s the human relationship

Camie Rembrandt: what about using biometrics to assess if a student is learning? Scary, or not?

Dodge Threebeards: you often hear students say, that teacher changed my life,  i wonder if a bot can do that, have that personal touch

Sheila Yoshikawa: the thing, in surveys, that students tend to ask for more often is more f2f time with a teacher

ThinkererSelby Evans (Thinkerer Melville): But think what that kind of AI would do first — How about serving as an augmented memory

Archivist Llewellyn: I had some good feedback. I compiled a summary of the comments from the event: Here are a few of the feedback comments during the event:

* Brande Linette: “This is huge. Real impressed!”

* Curei: “I enjoyed this lecture. Thank you so much for making it available.”

* Curei: “My fellow, Tal D. Noble is a popular science writer who has had to correct so much less responsible journalism. I wish he had been here to hear this lecture. Tal D. Noble has indicated that many scientists feel that there are hollow lava tubes that can be lived in safely on Mars.”

* Prof. Dan (profdan.netizen): This was very interesting, thanks for the presentation!

* Crystalina Halostar: “cool”

* Maggie May Gurvee Bhaktiguru (any1.gynoid):”makes sense.. gene expression is different based on the environment”

* Maggie May Gurvee Bhaktiguru (any1.gynoid): “suddenly believes in SKYNET”

* constructivIST Solo: “That was quite impressive :)”

* Maggie May Gurvee Bhaktiguru (any1.gynoid): “Plutchik Will you go to space?”

Marly (Marly Milena): I’m with you, Sheila.

ThinkererSelby Evans (Thinkerer Melville): Is that bot really better than a video of the presentation?

Archivist Llewellyn: I also made a video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3U6opMeANgI

Beth Ghostraven: I think we need some combination, but I’m very afraid that corporations like Pearson will use something like this to try to take over public education in the US

Sheila Yoshikawa: but I’m not against bots doing some things – I mean students listen to video recordings of me lecturing, it might be more interesting to make some of those into 3D experiences (this is especially distance learners)

Archivist Llewellyn: Disclosure: Works for Pearson and ETS

Beth Ghostraven: oh, interesting, Archivist!

Archivist Llewellyn: I do assessment evaluations online and supervise raters. I’m not sure they are ready to take over the classroom yet, at least what I’m seeing.

Sheila Yoshikawa: Great Archivist, this was very timely!

ThinkererSelby Evans (Thinkerer Melville): The internet changed my life.  Virtual worlds changed my life

Camie Rembrandt: Would you agree that tech people tend to value tech aspects more than educators?

Indigo Lucerne: technologies that augment the teachers’ ability to relate materials to the student have been coming up for aeons… computers + desktop media, staged scenarios to participate in along or in a group (without the teacher necessarily being in the foreground).. an AI construct may be something akin to a teaching assistant IRL

Kali Pizzaro: I think any technology if used in the correct way can enhance education

Marly (Marly Milena): A combo would be best, IMHO—Tech tools combined with an enthusiastic teacher drawing ideas and responses out of students

Sheila Yoshikawa: @Selby but the internet and VWs have people in them!

ThinkererSelby Evans (Thinkerer Melville): Yes, Camie — tech people overvalue tech

Sheila Yoshikawa: @Marly and @Kali yes agree

Camie Rembrandt: Could an AI robot be as responsive and enthusiastic as a human teacher if the student doesn’t know it’s a robot?

Kali Pizzaro: however, where they can be used for good they can also be negatives. collecting data that may be used for rating students or shaming them for not engaging with a particular tool. People are complex and I also think trying to align to learning styles is pretty much defunct now people have multiple learning methods depending on what they are learning and the depth they wish to go

ThinkererSelby Evans (Thinkerer Melville): Right, Sheila.  AI will also have people — and teachers — but with different function

Kali Pizzaro: So Camie could they pass the Turing test? Maybe, but not if they remain staccato language

Dodge Threebeards: i could see bots as teachers aids

Archivist Llewellyn: I think students are more interested in robots than teachers — robots are toys, they will poke and pull and test it… teachers they are standoffish. In the sense they can explore with the robot, that is key

Kali Pizzaro: LLewellyn depends on the teacher? 😉

Camie Rembrandt: I feel I’m getting into Blade Runner territory here, but: how will students know the difference between a human and AI teacher in the future?

Kali Pizzaro: if the robots are like in westworld then yes if like pandora bot – no

ThinkererSelby Evans (Thinkerer Melville): A robot can be more  like a pet — a helpful pet

Marly (Marly Milena): I fear that, as we become more mechanized, technocentric, etc our young people will lose the ability to go into depth with other humans in a way that simply cannot happen with only tech tools

Kali Pizzaro: I do not think we have natural language yet but if we have more than can pass the turing test – however we then get into the happy valley where the more human looking the more disconcerting to humans…….

Sheila Yoshikawa: @Archivist I do see the function of students being more willing to play with the robot, not be so frightened of seeming foolish etc., although if the robot is actually storing all the data about interactions, in fact perhaps they should be more worried about that aspect?

ThinkererSelby Evans (Thinkerer Melville): Look at SL — all sorts of programming, but we come to work with people.

Kali Pizzaro: we use analytics all the time in our VLE

Dodge Threebeards: what does VLE stand for

Sheila Yoshikawa: Virtual Learning Environment

Sheila Yoshikawa: it’s what we call them in the UK, things like Blackboard

Beth Ghostraven: oh, a VLE is like an LMS? (Learning Management System)

Dodge Threebeards: got it

ThinkererSelby Evans (Thinkerer Melville): VLE may refer to

Virtual learning environment

Universal Lithuanian Encyclopedia (Visuotinė lietuvių enciklopedija, VLE)

Vapor–liquid equilibrium

A V speed in aviation related to a landing gear

Variable-Length Encoding, which may refer to:

Variable-length code, an information theory technique for assigning shorter encoding to more frequently-occurring sequences

Encoding of machine language instruction sets in which different instructions occupy different numbers of machine words and the start of an instruction is determined by the length of the preceding one

Virtual Laboratory Environment is an open source program written in C++ based on the discrete event formalism DEVS (Discrete Event System Specification

Sheila Yoshikawa: @Kali our students are saved by the fact that the data analytics functions in Blackboard appear to be pretty rubbish, so the extent of monitoring isn’t as much as it might be….

Marly (Marly Milena): For me, it is sort of like the difference between having a relationship with a sex doll vs a human being

Archivist Llewellyn: I agree with Thinkerer’s idea of viewing the AI bot (in SL at least) as a pet

Camie Rembrandt: Could we use AI robots to teach in places where there are no teachers?

Sheila Yoshikawa: but it might be more a relationship with an adorable plush rabbit that helps you with your homework, rather than a sex doll

Kali Pizzaro: indeed!

Sheila Yoshikawa: lol Selby

Marly (Marly Milena): Haha Sheila

Dodge Threebeards: and the kids will have the ears off the rabbit in 10 minutes

Sheila Yoshikawa: lol Dodge you must know destructive children

Dodge Threebeards: have encountered  a few; but kids like to explore and see what does the rabbit do and what is it made of

ThinkererSelby Evans (Thinkerer Melville): There are no places where there are no teachers and yet robots can teach

Archivist Llewellyn: I think we are overlooking the obvious here, machine learning (a branch of AI) is already implemented in learning platforms like Coursera… I even participated in a course where the computer graded my essay

ThinkererSelby Evans (Thinkerer Melville): Right, Arch

Camie Rembrandt: Well, actually there have been a few interesting experiments in Indian slums – with computers, not AI robots [Sugata Mitra, https://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_shows_how_kids_teach_themselves]

Marly (Marly Milena): Even places without <trained> teachers usually have elders and natural teachers who take those roles.  The obverse is that guy….what’s his name…who brings computers into desolate areas and encourages kids to discover what they do—-all on their own—and they do!

Camie Rembrandt: Very good point, Archivist

Stranger Nightfire: god help us we are drowning in acronyms, and I half the time can’t remember what they stand for

Camie Rembrandt: Marly, some place have no elders, just orphan kids

Marly (Marly Milena): Among those kids, there are natural teachers!

Camie Rembrandt: I’m thinking about places devastated by war

Sheila Yoshikawa: and now there are MOOCs set up and running without involvement of the people who designed and created the learning, just with one or two trained moderators to interact in comments and make sure there is no unpleasantness going on – that’s how the Sheffield Uni MOOCs mostly run now, and people still get something out of them

Sheila Yoshikawa: sorry I was slow there duplicating some points already made

Archivist Llewellyn: There are also automated plagiarism checkers…. and also sites that can score the essay in terms of readability ….

Camie Rembrandt: Yes, I believe we are already using AI and not caring, as long as we don’t notice it?

Marly (Marly Milena): I love the program in NYC called Culture for One where foster children, orphans….are taken under the wing of someone who shows them arts possibilities. They choose what they want to do and they blossom like crazy.  It’s the one-on-one interest in the kid that makes the difference

Camie Rembrandt: Will we just care when it comes for our jobs?

Sheila Yoshikawa: @Archivist though humans keep finding different ways to get round the plagiarism checkers …

Kali Pizzaro: yes I agree Archivist for some subjects for others maybe not however to augment and to automatically create or mark multiple choice but harder to mark qualitative answers, and text matching software like Turnitin still needs to be reviewed by the academic as it is not always correct, or true plagiarism

Sheila Yoshikawa: @Camie re using it and not noticing – except suddenly it becomes more obvious how it is taking decisions and distorting things and then (some) people get concerned – like search algorithms etc

Sheila Yoshikawa: depends also what the learners are learning?

Stranger Nightfire: the white collar workers were happy enough to watch the assembly line people being replaced by robots  but now the AIs are coming for THEIR jobs

ThinkererSelby Evans (Thinkerer Melville): The term AI is an abstraction with different meanings for different meanings for different people.  We need a concrete example and specifications of the conditions to discuss it adequately.

Camie Rembrandt: @Sheila, so, basically, as long as we don’t notice it working, we actually don’t mind AI?

Sheila Yoshikawa: if one is wanting them to also learn values, attitudes, critical thinking?

Kali Pizzaro: exactly all tech can be useful

Sheila Yoshikawa: I think the “creeping AI” that sneaks up seems the most dangerous

Camie Rembrandt: Would you let an AI version of yourself teach one of your classes?

Sheila Yoshikawa: it’s the stuff of apocalyptic films! we trust the machines and then can’t do anything when they take over

Marly (Marly Milena): Well, we let our avies teach here!

Kali Pizzaro: however then we get into what is consciousness? hehe that is maybe for another day Selby

Archivist Llewellyn: Stranger, you are exactly right about your assessment of white collar jobs now being affected by automation

Camie Rembrandt: Marly, avis are not NPCs

Kali Pizzaro: of course they are

Kali Pizzaro: but maybe not as fast or as much as people think

Kali Pizzaro: it is up to us as humans to adapt

Dodge Threebeards: i have taught in classrooms for many years, and feel that the body language, eye contact, and facial expressions of the professor and students adds so much to the lecture.  I miss that when talk to a group in SL,

Kali Pizzaro: Camie yes avi is the virtual self driven by humans in here for me; a bot is different

Marly (Marly Milena): Even tho the <real persons> are behind it, they are constructions and operate differently re movement, lack of facial expression, etc than what I do Out There

Camie Rembrandt: Would you let an AI version of yourself teach one of your classes, thus reducing your workload? A bit like Archivist did with the presentation?

Sheila Yoshikawa: I would actually like an AI that could do my marking, if it was capable of evaluation and good judgement – but at the moment anyway some students complain if marking is done by a teaching assistant instead of a “proper ” lecturer, let alone an AI, they feel it is part of the value for money (their fees)

ThinkererSelby Evans (Thinkerer Melville): There are videos of profs teaching classes.  They let those videos teach their classes — no need to spend money on AI

Kali Pizzaro: Camie I would let them do it all especially marking lol

Kali Pizzaro: if I could sit on the beach and collect the salary

Sheila Yoshikawa: @Kali lol quite

Camie Rembrandt: That’s actually very interesting

Sheila Yoshikawa: @Dodge do you find there are any compensatory things?

Dodge Threebeards: well i do not lecture in SL. We use it in many ways, but not to lecture. You need to work to the strengths of the technology, and avoid its weaknesses

ThinkererSelby Evans (Thinkerer Melville): Does not take AI to mark multiple choice tests

Kali Pizzaro: yes Selby can do that in blackboard

Sheila Yoshikawa: actually I rather like teaching online e.g. with Adobe Connect, I feel I can take a bit more time to pay attention to everyone, scroll through chat and so forth, in some ways it’s easier to get shy people to contribute, though I do all sorts of things in physical class to get students to interact etc etc.

Marly (Marly Milena): Certainly, it was great watching YouTubes re how to deconstruct a crab for a meal, three different ones with different approaches.  Even so, it saved me time and frustration, so that’s the other side

Archivist Llewellyn: Marley, I try to design my bots with facial expressions… it is difficult to do though–you must tie in the natural language understanding and then relate keywords as triggers for gestures

Archivist Llewellyn: Multiple Choice tests have already been scored by scantrons – is AI any different?

Camie Rembrandt: Before we go,  could we have a quick poll?

Camie Rembrandt: “Do you think that virtual reality and artificially intelligent robots/avatars will upend the role of teacher and dramatically transform education?” YES/NO

Camie Rembrandt: You can use the polling station hanging by the VWER board.

Marly (Marly Milena): ON the 10th SL anniversary, my former psych student and one of the founders of SL, Mitch (Kapor) Linden, demonstrated work he was doing in making avies more lifelike. He had one that looked just like him and showed emotional facial expressions. Whatever happened with that work?

ThinkererSelby Evans (Thinkerer Melville): Arch — that difficulty is a lack of adequate support software

Sheila Yoshikawa: @Marly I don’t know – do you think that transferred it to Sansar? Or the current bento developments?

Kali Pizzaro: interesting

Stranger Nightfire: think my answer would be sort of none of the above

Sheila Yoshikawa: “it depends”

Stranger Nightfire: the universe contains a maybe

Archivist Llewellyn: I am not sure what you mean, Thinkerer…. I write all the files and the associations from text to gestures myself… the only support software maker is me…

Kali Pizzaro: i think tech is augmenting but maybe not take over in my lifetime

Marly (Marly Milena): I don’t know what “bento developments” are

Dodge Threebeards: in 2008 the hype was VWs would transform higher education,  it did not happen

Sheila Yoshikawa: it allows more fluid movements, bento, but with mesh

Marly (Marly Milena): Sorry, can’t give a clear yes no answer, too many shades of gray

Sheila Yoshikawa: and what’s more people have forgotten what happened circa 2007-2016 in VWs, apart from people like us obviously

Dodge Threebeards: we are working on some articles to remind them  🙂

Sheila Yoshikawa: though that short term memory isn’t restricted to developments in VWs

Nina Lancaster: great yes remind me lol

Camie Rembrandt: I think AI it’s already changing the world – and education – we just don’t see it

Dodge Threebeards: smiles

Nina Lancaster: 11 yrs in SL now

Dodge Threebeards: we have figured out how to use VWs in higher ed, just took us a while

Kali Pizzaro: 😉 ok folks I have to go thank you all take care

Nina Lancaster: yes true

Dodge Threebeards: enjoyed it

ThinkererSelby Evans (Thinkerer Melville): Arch — What I mean is that you should not have to write all that software — if it were already available you would just use it —

Kali Pizzaro: thanks Kali

Camie Rembrandt: I turned 8 last February, Nina 🙂

Nina Lancaster: its my day job now lol

Camie Rembrandt: Thank you Kali

Nina Lancaster: Happy bday xx

Nina Lancaster: Great I will save the chat and review at my leisure

Marly (Marly Milena): Oct. 07 was my entry date.

Marly (Marly Milena): Lots of developments since then!

Sheila Yoshikawa: Next week we have Mark Childs giving a talk – overlap with his VWBPE keynote “Identity, literacy, immersion and presence; joining together the building blocks of virtual world learning” but including parts he didn’t have time for in the keynote!

Dodge Threebeards: nice

ThinkererSelby Evans (Thinkerer Melville): sounds good

Camie Rembrandt: It sounds very interesting

Sheila Yoshikawa: Thank you Camie for moderating


VWER Meeting Transcripts by Virtual Worlds Education Roundtable is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at http://vwer.info.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s