Professor Gila Kurtz Can See Our Future Workplace

by Evelyn Levine

Professor Gila Kurtz would probably make a fine Jeopardy player—guessing the questions when given the answers. Her mind just works that way. She examines the latest technology and then defines the problem(s) these tech solutions could solve.

Here’s how she explained it herself as she described her current interests in the futuristic fields of Humanoid Robots (HR) and the Internet of Things (IoT). Both these innovations have led to her study of their application to the Future Workplace.

Q: Can a Humanoid Robot (HR) help us work better? 

A: A pilot study (Gila Kurtz & Dan Kohen-Vacs at Holon Institute of Technology (HIT) in Israel, 2019) utilized a Humanoid Robot (HR) in an Escape Room Activity and found the HR to be an appealing, supportive and patient tutor, successfully facilitating human collaboration. 

Q: How can we leverage the potential of our increasingly inter-connected devices, commonly referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT), to increase workplace efficiencies?

A: The IoT allows for a fully networked work environment and the sharing of data from our many devices and even directly from our bodies. Among its many potential work benefits are personalized onboarding and ongoing learning activities based on each employees’ environment, learning style and availability.

Real-time data can be gathered about new employees related to their social interactions, written orientation materials, and physical work spaces. Analyzing this data will help to better design both self-assessments and continuous learning activities.

Employee learning can be customized by identifying knowledge gaps, converting information into preferred delivery methods while taking into account personal learning style. Training opportunities can be further personalized based on their availability and location (using one’s calendar, for example).

On a more concrete level, learning a medical procedure—especially one requiring fine motor skills—is a clear application of IoT.

For example, a smart bracelet worn by training physician can provide feedback in real time, as well as collect data for later analysis, informing best practices or even for immediate treatment.

On the organizational macro-level: A networked diagnostic system could identify reasons and conditions for human errors. Continuous improvements can be made with these insights and with the greater awareness of all the relevant internal and external conditions [that lead] to errors. 

Putting aside for the moment all the challenges of privacy and data management; Gila Kurtz shows us a potential Future of Work where robots will support us, and data will guide us, to perform as our best human selves.

Gila Kurtz, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Instructional Technologies department at Holon Institute of Technology (HIT) in Israel and also serves as the Head of the M.A. Program there.

Evelyn Levine works as a Training and Staff Development Director for the U.S. Courts. She writes on worldwide learning and development trends in public and private sectors.  She can be reached at levinee@prodigy.net.

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