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Robot arm revolutionises literacy teaching

Teaching handwriting skills to Key Stage 1 children is one of the most important tasks that teachers perform. Good writing skills provide a foundation for almost all other subjects, from English to Science, RE and technology. The ability to write effectively ensures that students have the best possible start to their educational career.

However, giving every child the maximum amount of support while they are learning isn’t always easy – unless you happen to live in Abu Dhabi where students at Cranleigh International British School have a unique opportunity to learn writing skills with the help of a robotic arm!

Developed by a team at NYU Abu Dhabi University, the arm helps children to form shapes, give visual feedback to reinforce good practice, and can even physically move students’ hands back on track if they struggle to perfect the letters.

The arm works on a digital touch pad, giving lines to follow and even pronounces the letter or word they are writing to help them grasp verbalising words as well as writing them. The system even has two levels of control – ‘Full Guidance’ which physically controls students’ hands and ‘Partial Guidance’ that allows for students to follow reference letters, and only physically intervenes if they stray far off course.

This idea of moving technology into the classroom is admittedly not practical for every school’s budget and needs, but seeing such a revolutionary technology being used to aid education gives us a glimpse into the future. Soon, teachers will be able to utilise devices that help them to manage their time more effectively, and focus support on those that need it most without compromising on teaching time for other students.