Unconventional Students in Robotics and HRI Education: A Review of Two Initiatives
Robotics and human-robot interaction (HRI) are growing fields that may benefit from an expanded perspective stimulated by more interdisciplinary contributions. One way to achieve this goal is to attract non-traditional students from the social sciences and humanities into these fields. This present paper describes two educational initiatives that focused on teaching non-engineering students about robotics and HRI. In one initiative, a group of younger students, including those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), received hands-on experience with robotics in a context that was not overly technical, while in the other initiative, college students in the social sciences and humanities learned about basic HRI concepts and developed robotics applications. Themes common to both initiatives were to reach non-technical students who are not traditional targets for robotics education and to focus their learning on creating interactive sequences for robots based on key HRI design considerations rather than on the underlying mechanical and electrical details related to how those sequences are enacted inside the robot. Both initiatives were successful in terms of producing desired learning outcomes and fostering participant enjoyment.
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