We'd had some indication that robot teachers could be headed to classrooms sooner or later, but it looks like things may now be progressing faster than anyone thought. According to South Korea's etnews, the country has announced plans to invest in a so-called "R-Learning" program that promises to put robotic teaching assistants in up to 400 pre-schools by 2012, and expand to a full 8,000 pre-schools and kindergartens the following year. Those apparently wouldn't be in charge of the class (yet), but they would be used to do things like recite stories, and could let parents check in on the classroom and send messages to their children. If that trial program proves to be successful, the robots could then be expanded to elementary schools, and the Korea Institute of Science & Technology (the folks responsible for the bots) is apparently already eyeing international possibilities.

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Robot teachers to invade Korean classrooms by 2012