Animated Tutors: Making The Grade
Reported September 2010
SANTA CRUZ, CA (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- It's back to school and back to the books, but this isn't the classroom that you remember. Students and even teachers are going hi-tech to make the grade.
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Bored kids and tired teachers, old school methods are getting some online help! Students are strengthening their language skills with the help of a tech-savvy tutor. This online aid shows kids words and pictures, stressing proper pronunciation, and promising some fun too.
"It's one thing to sit and have a story read to you, but its another to actually have a program that will help them with pronunciation. That is great." Green Acres Elementary School teacher, Jennifer Schmida told Ivanhoe.
"He gives them what I call errorless learning, so that when the child makes a mistake, he doesn't say you're wrong, which would be devastating for a child with autism, but rather he gives them the correct answer." Dr. Dom Massaro from the University of California explained.
Cognitive Researcher Dom Massaro is the human mind behind the animated tutor "Timo Baldi." Timo mimics facial movements that kids would see in face-to-face conversation.
"It's also good for kids with language challenges, like deaf and hard of hearing kids, autistic kids, and kids with other language challenges, so Timo can dedicate learning to them." Dr. Massaro said.
This school has been the test site for over three years, and students have helped enhance Baldi's features. So far, there are more than 61 facial movements that Timo can perform, but it's simple for the kids. Neither the teacher nor the scientist want to replace traditional reading time in the classroom, but a little helper, goes a long way.
Next up for the tutor, Timo Baldi is going international. Dr. Massaro is developing baldini in italian, and baldir in Arabic.
The of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.-USA, and the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.
Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:
Dr. Dominic W. Massaro
University of California, Santa Cruz
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.
Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
Santa Monica, CA 90406
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