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Núria Agell (ESADE), at 4YFN-MWC: “Robots won’t replace teachers, but they will become teachers’ assistants”

Experts brought together by ESADE discussed the concept of “infinite learning” and reflected on what organisations and people should do in order to learn constantly

“How can we improve a specific area – for instance, education – by using robots?” To answer this question, ESADE brought various experts together at 4 Years From Now (4YFN), a high-profile entrepreneurship and digital innovation event taking place within the framework of the Mobile World Congress (MWC).

“Robots won’t replace teachers, but they will become teachers’ assistants,” explained Núria Agell, Professor in the Department of Operations, Innovation and Data Sciences at ESADE. “Robots can be very useful when you’re working with small groups of students. We want robots to give us feedback and help us get to know our students and their learning process better.”

A pilot test carried out by ESADE during the 4YFN session provided an example. A robot named Pepper acted as an assistant to an ESADE professor and provided feedback to students participating in a class on international business.

Robots let you increase your dedication and focus your efforts on teaching and developing challenges for students,” commented Pedro Parada, Associate Professor in the ESADE Department of Strategy and General Management at ESADE. “The real potential use of this type of mechanism is to help students with the knowledge that they should have acquired and assimilated before class.”

“The students feel very good about it and want to collaborate with robots in the ​​education area,” commented Daniel Bayón, CEO of Robotrónica, the company that owns the rights to Pepper in Spain. “Robots help teachers draw their students in. They won’t replace the teachers, but they will be the teachers’ assistants.”

Infinite learning

Also at 4YFN, ESADE hosted a panel discussion entitled “Becoming an Infinite Learning Organisation”, which focused on the future of education and the notion that today’s organisations have no choice but to learn systematically and “infinitely”. The speakers on the panel were Luigi Congedo, Vice President of BootstrapLabs; Marc Zao-Sanders, CEO of Filtered.com; Caroline Mol, Managing Director for Europe at edX; and Kenneth Mikkelsen, CEO of Future Shifts. The panellists explored the concept of “infinite learning” and reflected on the notion that people must continue to learn constantly.

“We’ve been teaching our children how to be robots, so now we must deconstruct this process and learn how to be human again,” commented Ivan Bofarull, Director of Global Insights & Innovation Catalyst at ESADE. The experts in attendance concluded that it is necessary to promote innovation education in the classroom and foster a technological culture at companies so that future leaders will be able to address society’s new challenges.