The “Virtual Transfer Student” app is being used in small schools in Japan to create constructive conflict in classroom discussions. The app plays the role of devil’s advocate, challenging the consensus and encouraging students to think more critically. In one example, the app sparked a debate during a disaster prevention class at Koshino Junior High School by suggesting a different approach to evacuation. Students have found the app helpful in bringing up ideas they hadn’t considered before.
The app is semi-automated, allowing teachers to prepare dialogue in advance. Himawari-chan, a cat avatar, encourages spontaneous thinking by speaking from the perspective of a student. The app has been praised for enlivening class discussions and giving quiet students a chance to express their opinions. However, the app currently requires teachers to prepare remarks in advance and there are plans to develop generative artificial intelligence for improved conversation content.
The app has been used mainly in ethics and social studies classes, and access has been given to about 30 elementary and junior high school teachers across Japan. The app aims to improve classroom discussions and make it easier for students to express their true feelings.
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