Kitt the Learning Companion is a multipurpose robot that supports educators in delivering content and assessing student progress, while simultaneously encouraging children to own their learning.
At its most basic level, Kitt is a nonmoving robot that behaves like a flash drive. When connected to a computer, either via USB cable (provided) or docking station, educators can drag and drop audio, video, and image files directly onto the robot. Learners can then view and/or listen to the content using the controls on Kitt’s body. Kitt has an integrated camera, microphone, and speaker, with all data being stored to a micro SD card. It is not a connected device; it works as intended as a stand-alone piece of tech.
This means educators can easily deliver individualized student content; they can upload group assignments for students to follow while in centers, and they can send out homework assignments on Kitt, making it ideal for blended and hybrid learning environments. Or, should the teacher have a day away from the classroom, he or she can rest assured learning stays on track.
Kitt supports a variety of files including:
- Images – These can be viewed on the screen on Kitt’s face. These could consist of phonics flash cards, historical artifact images, images of famous paintings, images from around school to assist with transition into the next class, or images from home for anxious learners.
- Audio files – These can be listened to using the controls on Kitt’s body. These could be pieces of music, poetry, an audiobook, messages from outer space, messages from famous people of the past, or messages from home for anxious learners.
- Video – Some concepts are best explained with a video, and Kitt currently supports videos filmed on a Kitt device. These could be video clips from around school, an explanation from a teacher, or a message to a child studying at home from his classmates.
Kitt can be used in a wide variety of ways in the classroom but, as a companion robot, is able to support the learner in the independent gathering of formative assessment evidence as they share their learning with the robot. Children can respond to the teaching activities by recording their responses on to Kitt directly. This can be done in one of three ways:
- Audio recording – This could include reading a book or providing verbal answers to questions. Learners can record an audio response directly to Kitt. During the recording, Kitt’s eyes will engage with and motivate the learner. After the recording has finished, learners can listen and, if necessary, erase the recording and start again.
- Photograph – Learners can complete their work by hand (crafting, painting, writing in a book or on a mini whiteboard, and so on) and use Kitt to photograph their work. When the photo mode is selected, Kitt will count down from three to one and mirror the camera in its display to allow the user to make sure everything is in frame. Images can be viewed and deleted if necessary using Kitt’s menu.
- Video recording – If the activity is more dynamic, such as playing an instrument, performing a dance routine, completing a science experiment, or if the learner needs to “show and tell,” a video recording might be more appropriate. When learners record a video, Kitt will count down from three to one and mirror the video recording in its screen for the benefit of the user. Recorded videos can be accessed, viewed, and deleted through Kitt’s menu options.
In addition to supporting schools in gathering formative assessment evidence, Kitt has a number of companionship attributes that enable children to build a rapport working with the little robot.
- Kitt wakes up and gets sleepy when it works hard.
- Kitt responds to being touched and cuddled.
- Kitt enjoys being spoken to – its face changes to indicate this.
- Kitt knows when it is sunny and puts its sunglasses on if it gets too bright!
- Kitt knows when it has been lifted up and responds to this.
- Kitt supports learners in concentration; its body illuminates work and its timer feature helps children focus on timed tasks.
- Kitt also loves to dress up. It has magnets in its back to enable simple learner-made clothing to attach to it using a pushpin or a paper clip.
Plus, inclusivity and accessibility are at the heart of Kitt’s design. Educators are able to customize each Kitt to their unique needs through adjustment of volume and brightness, full control of haptic feedback, and utilization of voice prompts. Kitt also includes a braille cell on the center button for ease of use.
Kitt is intended to be used in a 1:1 learning environment but can also be shared by two to three students during center-based activities.