News

How a telepresence robot is changing some classrooms

By Laura Devaney, Director of News, @eSN_Laura
May 12th, 2016

robot kubi

A new technology enables both interactive communication and observation capabilities with a telepresence robot platform

Thanks to recent strides in robotics and mobile devices, telepresence technology has opened up numerous possibilities at both the K-12 and higher-ed levels, where remote observation and communication can come in handy.

Educators and students are exploring a new way to remotely observe and interact with colleagues and peers with a telepresence robot that enables face-to-face communication.

Using Kubi, from Revolve Robotics, users download an app onto a tablet and connect the tablet to Kubi using Bluetooth. The tablet sits on a robotic platform. Other users can then “navigate” to Kubi with a browser. This lets them control the robot remotely over the web, including moving it for face-to-face communication.

At the K-12 level, Kubi is proving useful for observation in special education classrooms. Often, having a new person in the classroom will change students’ behavior. For rural schools, the technology can also help beam in experts and professionals that otherwise couldn’t observe or speak with students.

Aaron Fischer, an assistant professor at the University of Utah who is researching how using telepresence robots such as Kubi can help connect professionals with special needs students, said trying to get school psychologists into schools in hard-to-reach places or rural areas is often highly challening. This is where Kubi comes in.

Fischer and his colleagues discovered Kubi when they looked into video conferencing systems to see if the approach proved effective in observing student behavior and helping teachers address the behavior.

“Kubi added more versatility,” Fischer said. “In these hard-to-reach places, they don’t always have constant access to a school psychologist, or one might be assigned to multiple schools.”

Next page: Making it a regular part of the classroom