Research Projects

Debbie Woodward

Current Research Masters Student

Can Social Robots help Primary School teachers in Ireland?

Debbie is currently completing her postgraduate research studies at ATU (Atlantic Technological University). Her research seeks to explore how social robots can assist Irish primary school teachers. The research sets out to examine content that is published online in relation how robots are currently being used in EdTech (educational technology) and looks at ways in which humanoid robots can be used as teaching assistants in the mainstream classroom. Debbie will bring a NAO humanoid robot into a cross section of primary schools in Co. Sligo to teach basic French vocabulary to seven and eight-year-old pupils.

Debbie’s supervisor is Dr. John Pender (Senior Lecturer in social policy and foresight studies at IT Sligo). Debbie’s research will inform the Department of Education, the NCCA (National Council for Curriculum and Assessment) and the Teaching Council (the professional standards body for the teaching profession in Ireland).


Debbie obtained a BSc. (Hons) in Information Technology from the University of South Wales, which included a work placement at the Artificial Intelligence research laboratory CRIN (Centre de Recherche en Informatique de Nancy) in France. Debbie spent many years working as a Management Consultant at Oracle UK and contract Development Project Manager at ICL Fujitsu before relocating back to the West of Ireland with her family. Debbie has been successfully running a Digital Marketing agency for the last twelve years and recently decided to return to IT Sligo to complete a Research Masters. Debbie is passionate about STEM education and how technology can be used to improve society and is a contributor to ‘The Good AI’ which is an online publication for mindful, fair and responsible AI usage within business, government and public sectors.


Article about to be published in the 2022 IJASS (Irish Journal of Applied Social Studies). In this forthcoming special issue ‘Social robotics and the social professions’. Debbie’s article ‘Innovating the Irish primary education system with social robot teaching assistants’ will contribute towards showcasing emerging possibilities and potential in the developing field of social robotics for practice innovations across health, care and education services.


Oral Presentations :

  • Debbie delivered a keynote presentation at the Department of Education and Department of Further and Higher Education’s 2021 Innovation Week. Her presentation highlighted the research that she is conducting into the use of social robotics to support primary school teachers.



  • Debbie delivered a short workshop at the ‘Social robotics in dementia care – current challenges & future possibilities’ symposium that took place online in January 2021. Link –

Print Media :

Debbie featured in a recent Irish Times article examining her research into the use of social robots and AI in education in Ireland. Link :