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Accepted Contribution:

Robots and AI in education: navigating imaginaries, illusions, and everyday practice  
Assunta Viteritti (University Sapienza) Letizia Zampino (University of Rome La Sapienza) Leonardo Piromalli

Short abstract:

Burgeoning technological imaginaries—featuring algorithms, robots, AI, etc.—promise disruptive future-presents in education today. Drawing on STS, this paper investigates the distance between such technoscientific speculative imagination and ordinary practice in school and university life.

Long abstract:

Contemporary technoscientific imagination portrays robots and artificial intelligence (AI) as a ‘new order’ for education: classrooms will evolve into high-tech research laboratories, while students will be integrated into AI-augmented and personalized environments that demand their full engagement or compliance; teachers shall be replaced by humanoid robots, being generally unable to confront the irresistible tide of innovation. While futuristic expectations such as these anticipate radical changes in education, the question remains open as to whether they are indeed capable of fulfilling these promises. With this paper, we thus aim to examine the chasm between the techno-scientific imagination of big tech in education and the everyday practice of school and university life. What occurs when humanoid robots are introduced into educational settings? What unfolds at educational technology fairs where big tech companies showcase humanoid robots? How does the AI technology market shape imagery for teachers, students, and educational managers? More broadly—How do these promises materialize in practice? What do technoscientific social expectations do in education? Hence, this paper delves into how (expectations on) robotic technologies and AI are infiltrating educational institutions and actively reshaping cultures, practices, and subjectivities. Emphasis is also put on how schools and universities navigate this transformative wave, which challenges traditional notions of physicality, spatiality, relationships, and organizational structures within the educational landscape. Specifically, through the presentation of two case studies—the integration of the NAO humanoid robot in schools and the imaginaries of AI in higher education—this paper strives to problematize the interconnections between robots, AI, and education.

Combined Format Open Panel P272
Making and doing relationships with AI, cyborgs, robots
  Session 1 Friday 19 July, 2024, -