Log in / Register
Home arrow Computer Science arrow Robotic Assistive Technologies: Principles and Practice

Utilization Protocols to Promote Access to Education

The most recent review of educational robots we located was performed over 10 years ago (Howell 2005). The review presented a historical perspective covering early work from the 1980s that led to present-day robots for activities of daily living. There were only two robots for augmentative manipulation in education activities mentioned in the review, and none of those systems is presently available (Harwin, Ginige, and Jackson 1986; Howell and Hay 1989; Howell, Martz, and Stanger 1996). From 1986 to 2000, some good progress was made in the area of robots in education (Eberhart, Osborne, and Rahman 2000; Harwin, Ginige, and Jackson 1988; Howell and Hay 1989; Howell, Martz, and Stanger 1996; Kwee and Quaedackers 1999; Smith and Topping 1996). The body of work was impressive in many ways. First, robot use moved out of the laboratory into classrooms and was tested with actual students, although primarily case studies with one to seven participants. Children with various physical impairments, including arthrogryposis, muscular dystrophy, and CP (the most common), tried the systems. Second, some of the stationary robot arms used had sophisticated vision systems and built-in intelligence (Harwin, Ginige, and Jackson 1988). Third, the researchers had accommodated severe physical abilities with a wide array of access methods, including switches (Howell and Hay 1989; Kwee and Quaedackers 1999; Smith and Topping 1996), and some systems were flexible enough to accommodate multiple methods because they were computer based (Harwin, Ginige, and Jackson 1988; Howell 2005). Trouble using the access methods was a common concern (Howell and Hay 1989). Finally, the researchers undertook a number of varied academic tasks, most commonly science lab activities (Eberhart, Osborne, and Rahman 2000; Howell and Hay 1989), including sensory inspection (Howell, Martz, and Stanger 1996) and extinguishing a candle (Kwee and Quaedackers 1999). Other activities included drawing on worksheets to match questions and answers (Smith and Topping 1996) and sorting objects, picking and placing objects, and manipulating the disks for the Tower of Hanoi puzzle (Harwin, Ginige, and Jackson 1988). Unfortunately, the development of robots for manipulation of educational objects lost its momentum, and there has been little research and development in the area lately.

The literature regarding the use of robots for augmentative manipulation by children with physical impairments in academic activities since 2005 is scarce, with only seven studies located. In these recent studies, several robot-mediated educational activities have been performed, showing the flexibility of robots as tools for augmentative manipulation in the classroom. For example, to learn the English letters, children said a letter out loud, and if pronounced correctly, a robot would build the letter in a typesetting plate and the letter would also be displayed on a computer screen (Lee 2013). The authors found that the ideal ages at which children were old enough to understand the system, but not too old to be bored, were 3 and 4 years old.

Being able to control a robot from a communication device to act out a story was motivating for a participant to increase the participant’s length of utterance (Adams and Cook 2016b). Often, children who use augmentative communication systems make short utterances, sometimes one word long. A car-like robot and a robot arm were “dressed up” like characters in the story, and the participant moved the robots and spoke their lines.

To write a simple robot program, a participant moved the computer cursor and selected commands in the ROBOLAB program via the participant’s communication device (Adams and Cook 2013). The communication device was connected to the computer via a USB cable and operated in mouse emulation mode.

Various mathematics activities have been accomplished using a robot (Adams and Cook 2016b). Building simple puzzles was done by having a puzzle piece placed on top of a mobile robot. The participant then drove the robot to the location where the piece should go and spun the robot into the correct orientation (a helper was needed to insert the piece into the puzzle). A mobile robot was moved along a “board game” while counting spaces. Another numeracy activity was drawing lines between ascending numbers on an enlarged numbered connect-the-dots picture using a marking pen attached to the back of a mobile robot.

A series of studies was performed in which students did mathematics measurement activities: comparing and sorting objects by length (Adams and Cook 2014); measuring the length of objects using nonstandard units, such as paperclips, and then comparing lengths based on the numerical measurement (Adams and Cook 2016b); and measuring using standard centimeter units (Adams and David 2013b). Information about programs to control the robots and instructions for doing the mathematics measurement activities and building NXT and EV3 robots and attachments are available from Adams and David (2013a) and online ( Simple adaptations were made to the mobile robot to enable the activities (i.e., attaching a ruler to the side of the robot). A method to do a task analysis of the activity and assign parts of the task to the robot, an environmental adaptation, or a helper is available (Adams 2011).

Several robot-mediated language, mathematics, and science and social studies activities have been proposed (Encarna^ao et al. 2016). In this study, children with neuromotor disabilities used an integrated augmentative manipulation and communication assistive technologies (IAMCAT) system in which a Lego Mindstorms NXT robot was controlled through the computer-based GRID 2 communication software. Many activities were performed, including drawing lines to connect answers; putting story illustrations, letters, or sequences in order; carrying labels for matching words and letters, illustrations, or numbers; or labeling parts of pictures, following pathways on a map, measuring width with nonstandard units, or carrying a certain number of items for working with numbers. Instructions, GRID samples, and activities can be found online (

Found a mistake? Please highlight the word and press Shift + Enter  
< Prev   CONTENTS   Next >
Business & Finance
Computer Science
Language & Literature
Political science