Sensory Perception & Interaction Research Group

University of British Columbia

Full citation: 
Kianzad, S., Chen, G., & MacLean, K. E. (2021). "PAL: A Framework for Physically Assisted Learning Through Design and Exploration With a Haptic Robot Buddy." Frontiers in Robotics and AI: Special Issue on Robot Learning, 8, pp. 1-22
Robots are an opportunity for interactive and engaging learning activities. In this paper we consider the premise that haptic force feedback delivered through a held robot can enrich learning of science-related concepts by building physical intuition as learners design experiments and physically explore them to solve problems they have posed. Further, we conjecture that combining this rich feedback with pen-and-paper interactions, e.g., to sketch experiments they want to try, could lead to fluid interactions and benefit focus. However, a number of technical barriers interfere with testing this approach, and making it accessible to learners and their teachers. In this paper, we propose a framework for Physically Assisted Learning based on stages of experiential learning which can guide designers in developing and evaluating effective technology, and which directs focus on how haptic feedback could assist with design and explore learning stages. To this end, we demonstrated a possible technical pathway to support the full experience of designing an experiment by drawing a physical system on paper, then interacting with it physically after the system recognizes the sketch, interprets as a model and renders it haptically. Our proposed framework is rooted in theoretical needs and current advances for experiential learning, pen-paper interaction and haptic technology. We further explain how to instantiate the PAL framework using available technologies and discuss a path forward to a larger vision of physically assisted learning.
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