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Category: Teaching (page 1 of 2)

Communicating with Robots and Bots

One the most enjoyable pieces of writing (and collating of research, videos, news articles, images etc) about robots this year has been my collaboration with Gwyneth Peaty to put together the Curtin Net3X MOOC Communicating with Robots and Bots.

The MOOC opens today. It’s self-paced and free to access, so anyone can give it a go to see if they’re interested.

Reasons it was fun to work on? Well, it was a great opportunity to set aside some of the formality of academic writing (not that I am that formal in many things I write) while still discussing my favourite topics, robots and communication. It was also good to be working with other people, Gwyneth on the actual course content design, but also the whole MOOC team at Curtin, who were excellent, helpful and made the whole thing a pleasure (in particular the video creation with Brendan, which is not something I feel that comfortable with, in spite of the fact that I’m automatically videoed every time I give a lecture).

As Gwyneth has reminded me, these are the robots that started our collaboration in many ways:

Whiteboard robots

The humanoid robot is the first robot Gwyneth ever drew for me (I think). I responded with my non-humanoid robot and its thought bubble, “Why is that robot like a human?”. The dog (robot?) came along shortly after. They’ve been through a few changes, some of which you might be able to see in the sidebar posted through the robotothers Instagram account.

It would be great to see people try out the Communicating with Robots and Bots MOOC. I’d love to know what you think and if there are issues in the content just let me know and I’ll see what I can do to fix things. The main hashtag for the MOOC is #curtinnet3x, and there are some additional tags if you’re taking part and posting your ideas for robots, #net3xfirstrobot and #net3xfinalrobot.

Buses… the new semester and study period

You know what they say about buses?

You wait for ages… and then they all arrive at once.

That actually happened to me in London once, although it was even worse than that, since no buses came for ages, followed by a whole line of number 45s. Not the bus I was looking for. 🙁

Apparently, the same thing happens with new teaching sessions. I’m about to start Curtin’s Semester 1, lecturing and teaching Web Media 207/507, and simultaneously Open Universities Australia Study Period 1, teaching Web300 Web Production.

If any students end up looking for me online, then this is what they’re going to see… so I’d better say something positive! 😉

Luckily that’s easy. I love teaching both of these units. I particularly like the way that my students are asked to think about theory, but also create web media of their own to share online. I have to say that I enjoy marking web media products more than essays.

So, let the new Semester/SP begin, as introduced by my mascot for 2014:


Reminding myself of the possibility of improvising

This post marks a change within this blog.

Although I have written about things other than robots before here, it has been a long time since I wrote about anything.  When I finished my PhD I resolved to blog again, but, of course, that isn’t what happened.  Instead, I had some time off and then threw myself into sessional teaching.  There have been benefits, for example my decision to do that allowed me to apply for and gain an Early Career Development Fellowship at Curtin, but I since the beginning of this year I have found, or made, no time to blog.

Today I’m trying something new.  Although I will often still try to find images to pepper my posts, and I will continue to write about robots from time to time, I am freeing myself up to improvise a bit more in this space.  In part, this is because yesterday evening I reminded myself that it is possible to stand in front of a small group of people and improvise a talk.  If I can do that, then I think it might also be a good idea to learn to write more freely as well!

This post is therefore dedicated to the Web206 students who were my captive audience yesterday, as I improvised a lecture for them.  I hope that anyone visiting this site who has listened to the lecture since (because, yes, it was recorded too) will forgive the conversational section at the end.  I tried to make my discussion with the students in the lecture theatre work for the recording, but I don’t think that I was completely successful.

Colourful Fiddler Crab Claws

So, I have been given an excuse to source some photos of Fiddler Crabs, just because some students were surprised that the claws of Navi Robo were a different colour from the rest of its body.  Of course, these crabs are using their claws to send very different messages from the robot, but it is nonetheless of great importance that they attract attention, hence the large size and sometimes very bright colour of their signaling claw.

Just one example of a Fiddler Crab

A second example, with another colour of claw

A final example with yet another colour.

There, that’s enough wildlife for now, back to robots next time.

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