The University’s Strategic Plan (2019-25) identifies a goal to, ‘develop smart teaching and learning and other cutting-edge pedagogies with the help of new digital education technologies to support teaching and learning endeavours to meet students’ new learning needs in a rapidly changing world where new knowledge and skills continue to appear and workplace requirements are constantly changing’. In this regard four areas of strategic priority were identified to achieve this goal across; Learning Enhancement; Learning Design; Learning Innovation and Learning Analytics.
Lingnan University is committed to keeping abreast of cutting edge technologies as part of our work in Learning Innovation. We have been exploring the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) Robotics in teaching and learning and this has been especially relevant recently with physical and social distancing measures being implemented due to Covid-19 pandemic.
As a leading liberal arts university in Asia, Lingnan University acquired a social artificial intelligence robot as a teaching assistant. The robot is referred to as Lingnan Genius from the Swedish start-up company, Furhat Robotics. Lingnan University's Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC) piloted the use of this AI Robot successfully in physical and online classes.
The Teaching and Learning Centre conducted three Student workshops (~500 students attending) to increase the awareness of social robots and its use in teaching and learning. Also, TLC supported several staff in using Lingnan Genius in case studies of innovative practices in teaching and learning.
Dr. HAN Peng was one of the teachers to bring Lingnan Genius into the classroom for courses on the Legal Aspects of Business and Business and Company Law. Dr. HAN designed educational content and quizzes and then utilized the machine learning capabilities of the robot to demonstrate some legal cases to students through role-play in the classroom. The use of this innovative technology increased students' learning motivation and retention of knowledge via this use of robot social presence methodology. In this context she needed to citing many court cases, and Lingnan Genius provided an avatar for role-play that mimicked real human facial expression and human dialogue. The students provided positive feedback on the experience and also noted that the robot was proficient in multiple languages.
Another case was the use of Lingnan Genius to assist with the teaching of the Making of Hong Kong Course which included content on the National Security Law curriculum. As Lingnan Genius doesn't have a specific personality like a human being, it is potentially perceived as being more objective and students may feel more at ease. Prof. Shalendra SHARMA, Associate Vice-President (Academic Quality Assurance and Internationalisation) indicated, "the special feature of this technology is that there is no judgment and it can maintain neutrality”.
The application of social robots in different scenarios and disciplines has created a new and pioneering practice in liberal arts education and we are the first university in Hong Kong to use the advanced conversational robot, Lingnan Genius.
Using Lingnan Genius: Classroom teaching
Using Lingnan Genius: Role playing Demo