ANIMATAS Symposium

The Symposium on Human-Machine Interaction: Perception, Social Learning, Personalised Adaptation in Educational Settings has just came to an end. Moderated and organized in a hybrid format together with other Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 ANIMATAS project, the symposium gave me the chance to engage in both in-person and virtual activities with about 80 participants.

I had the pleasure to introduce my work on Learning Rewards from Explanations alongside fourteen other ESRs’ presentations addressing frameworks and computational models to understand robotic and virtual agents’ perception, systems to allow social learning mechanisms, and implementations to adapt and personalize agents’ behavior to unstructured social interactions. In addition, an external contribution on the attitude and expectations of parents and teachers towards social robots in an educational scenario was also presented.

Three keynotes, led by Jonathan Gratch, Tony Belpaeme, and Alessandra Sciutti, focused on affective computing, large-scale user studies, and data-driven human-robot interaction.

Two panel discussions exceptionally well moderated by Barbara Bruno and Séverin Lemaignan, delved deeper into technical and evaluation challenges of the field. The first panel involved members of the partners’ organization: Arvid Kappas, Ana Paiva, Pierre Dillenbourg, Mohamed Chetouani. The second panel encouraged debate among panelists from overseas: Brian Scasselati, Kerstin Dautenhahn, and Maja Mataric.

Topical research-related concerns, such as the replication crisis and post-PhD careers, were discussed. Benedikt Leichtmann gave us insights about open science methods with a practical tutorial in which we had the chance to draft a preregistration form. Kim Baraka, Séverin Lemaignan, Barbara Bruno, Fernando P. Santos, and Tony Belpaeme shared their career paths to broaden our perspectives about post-PhD opportunities both in industry and academia. 

This Symposium represents one of the last chapters of ANIMATAS project, and I hope the first of a series of future events to share practical and theoretical problems and solutions in robotics and education. 

For further information, please check out the website: https://sites.google.com/view/animatas-symposium/home.

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