Robot Teachers: Towards a Phronetic Model for Future-Oriented Education Design

Rikke Toft Nørgård, Aarhus University, Denmark
Niamh Ní Bhroin, University of Oslo, Norway
Charles Melvin Ess, University of Oslo, Norway


The world's first robot teacher, Saya, was introduced to a classroom in Japan in 2009. Saya, had the appearance of a young female teacher.  She could express six basic emotions, take the register and shout orders like 'be quiet' (The Guardian, 2009). Since 2009, humanoid robot technologies have developed.  It is now suggested that robot teachers may become regular features in educational settings, and may even 'take over' from human teachers in ten to fifteen years (cf. Amundsen, 2017 online; Gohd, 2017 online).  

Designed to look and act like a particular kind of human; robot teachers mediate human existence and roles, while also aiming to support education through sophisticated, automated, human-like interaction. Our paper explores the design and existential implications of ARTIE, a robot teacher at Oxford Brookes University (2017, online). Drawing on an initial empirical exploration we propose a phronetic model to support the future design of robot teachers, in an effort to enhance learners’ flourishing and pedagogical formation in educational contexts.