5 ways robots will bring your classroom into the 21st century

When you hear the word ‘robot,’ what comes to mind?

Off the bat, it’s probably either a hyper-realistic robot that can’t be distinguished from a human that sets out to take over the world, or ‘Disneyfied’ robots such as C-3PO and WALL-E that have been created for our entertainment. Today, however, their potential impact is more far-reaching. Robots are being built to improve daily tasks and improve our lives. Think about the Roomba vacuum, robotic arms for complicated surgeries, or Tesla’s self-driving car–all are setting a powerful precedent for new ways of living and being.

Education is another sector where robots are proving to be of valuable assistance. Conventional classrooms can become stagnant, often to the detriment of students’ learning experiences. That’s why telepresence robots can offer promising solutions for educators globally to empower engaged learning experiences and catalyze effective learning techniques inside and outside the classroom.

Here are five examples demonstrating how robots are being used to modernize classrooms and provide differentiated learning experiences.

1. Make the hybrid classroom a community

If this past year of quarantining and sheltering-in-place has taught us anything, it’s the value of in-person relationships and human connections. This situation is particularly pertinent in education, where bonds formed with teachers and classmates can profoundly impact students’ engagement, attainment, and life choices. Unfortunately, however, as we saw during the pandemic, in-person learning is not always feasible. 

As we emerge from the restrictions, many schools have adopted hybrid learning models with a reduced classroom capacity, instating distance learning. Unfortunately, this arrangement can leave some students feeling left out or unmotivated. With the power of robots for learning, students can simulate core aspects of the school day experience from any web-based device–and have complete control of the process. Whether ‘driving’ their robot into the classroom or attending class behind a virtual desk to engage in a discussion, robots can help remote students feel like they are still part of the school community.

2. Include homebound or hospitalized students in real time

Before online school became the norm, many children had experience with remote school due to illnesses, hospitalizations, or other medical reasons. Often, these students had to work on the material independently, with their families, or with private tutors. While these ‘solutions’ may have allowed students to keep up with academic work, they couldn’t help students learn how to socialize and build camaraderie with peers and instructors. 

Tra Vu, PhD, PE and Chief Operating Officer, OhmniLabs

Your school may be eligible for stimulus funds under the CARES Act, CRRSAA and ARP to cover technology costs associated with transitioning to distance education. To learn how schools are using telepresence robots click HERE and to download a guide on how to apply for grants for distance learning click HERE.
Tra Vu, Ph.D., P.E. is the Chief Operating Officer of Kambria and OhmniLabs. In her current role, she is scaling OhmniLabs’ robotics and AI products and services, and further expanding the reach of the Kambria open innovation protocols platform. Before joining these two companies in the Silicon Valley, she was an adjunct professor at New York University Tandon School of Engineering, and a Technical Director at Greenman-Pedersen, Inc. (GPI). Tra was responsible for leading a team in designing the first city-wide Transit Signal Priority system in New York City.
Tra has a strong educational background in Civil Engineering and has expertise in economics and finance. She earned her Master’s in Financial Engineering and her PhD in Transportation Planning & Engineering from the NYU Tandon School of Engineering. Tra is a graduate of the highly regarded LeadershipITE program.
Tra is an active member of various non-profit professional organizations. She is the 2017 President of ITE Met Section and a lead organizer of the popular un-conference event TransportationCamp in New York. In her spare time, she loves to play sports and attend concerts.

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