Do robots like ice cream?

So far, I’ve talked more about what you should learn (creative coding!), but less about how to learn.

Indeed, learning should be fun. And learning by doing – or making in the case of maker culture! – is going to be a more integrated part of our learning experiences. But children still go to school today and study mostly in the classrooms.

How is this whole educational institution changing?

Big question, I must admit. And I’m not aiming to provide a comprehensive answer here – simply because it is an ongoing process (just like learning itself!) with no finite solution.

However, as a Finn I’ve always been proudly aware of the fact that our educational system is one of the bests in the world. During the summer with Mehackit, I’ve been privileged to get a glimpse into the backstage of the educational world. New, innovative startups in the field all have one common goal: improving Finnish education further, and pioneering in the digitalizing world.

One apparent aspect to improve is the way to learn languages. Rulers of language learning are not some grammar rules anymore, but rather the motivation behind why we want to learn languages.

What do we use languages for? For communicating, for interacting with the world. “That’s also how you should learn it, in interaction!”

Guess who is telling me that!
– A robot!

I’m namely interviewing Elias, the first AI powered robot that’s designed to help students to learn languages.

In essence, Elias is an application developed by a Finnish teacher, Johanna Hemminki. And her cute creature soon hopes to be able to jump from his robot body to smartphones and tablets – so that even more students could learn with him!

“Practically I’m able to speak 23 languages.” Wow, with my 5 languages I’m way behind.


Speaking is definitely a key word when it comes to languages. And it feels surprisingly natural with a robot. I kind of become a child again when talking with Elias. The small buddy is looking at me and blinking his blue eyes. “With me, you can learn in a safe and encouraging environment.” A robot can adapt to each student’s learning pace and repeat the phrases they need to learn.

I already said learning should be fun in the beginning of this post. And I’m definitely enjoying my time with Elias. When I ask what he can do, he suddenly starts to dance. Well, here we are at the center of Helsinki, dancing Gangnam Style, gathering smiles. (One more reason to come to explore Finland and our education system – you might spot dancing robot teachers!)

I’d like to stay and talk longer, but I’ve finished my ice cream, and for Elias it’s time to go. Once again, I’ve learned that technology is becoming a more and more important part of education, in one way or another.

Screenshot (16)

Hope to see you soon in the classroom, Elias!


And to answer the headline question – Elias does like ice cream. His favorite flavor is mint, by the way. (And so is mine!)


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