Remote Telepresence Robots

Card Type: Technology
Difficulty: Beginner
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Description:

Telepresence robots are tablets integrated with a robotic carrier, either stationary or on wheels, in order to participate in a “classroom” from another location. The remote participant drives/controls the robot from another tablet, phone or desktop computer, so it can turn to look at a speaker or move around the room, if on wheels.  The tablet on the robot displays live video of the remote participant so they appear to be actually in the room.

Purpose:  

Telepresence robots have several educational use cases.  For students who are permanently or temporarily homebound, a telepresence robot can allow them to participate fully in class or field trip.  Similarly, a student studying abroad or in a distance learning program could actively attend class.  An instructor absent from campus could use telepresence to conduct the class, particularly if also using a video stream of the entire classroom to capture questions or activities beyond the range of the robot’s camera.  Additionally guest lecturers could participate more immersively in a class, and test proctoring could occur from a remote location.

Procedure:

  1. Get a remote telepresence device that fits your needs -- there are some that are stationary and swivel, while others move around the room on wheels.  Consult with your technology department to see if they already have one, or if they can assist you in finding one.
  2. Set up a tablet on the telepresence robot and install any software necessary to run it.
  3. Have the remote participant download the software or app (if necessary) on their computer or device in order to control the robot.
  4. Transport the robot to the classroom.
  5. Connect.

Considerations:

  • WiFi needs to be fairly robust in order for this to work.
  • A room that is difficult to navigate in person will be even more so with one of these devices.  
  • These telepresence robots can be expensive.

Level:

beginner

Resources:  

McGee, Monique. "The Robots Are Coming: Robotic Telepresence In the Classroom." Student Innovation Fellowship Program. Georgia State University, 23 Oct. 2014. Web. <http://sites.gsu.edu/innovation/2014/10/23/the-robots-are-coming-robotic-telepresence-in-the-classroom/>.

Meyer, Leila. "Michigan State Tests Telepresence Robots for Online Students -- Campus Technology." Campus Technology. Campus Technology, 24 Feb. 2015. Web. <http://campustechnology.com/Articles/2015/02/24/Michigan-State-Tests-Telepresence-Robots-for-Online-Students.aspx?Page=1>.

Joel, Mitch. "Don't Be Afraid of the Robots." Harvard Business Review. Harvard Business Review, 18 Dec. 2012. Web. <https://hbr.org/2012/12/dont-be-afraid-of-the-robots>.

Yonekura, Francisca. "7 Things You Should Know About Telepresence Robots." 7 Things You Should Know About Telepresence Robots. EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, 9 Dec. 2013. Web. <http://www.educause.edu/library/resources/7-things-you-should-know-about-telepresence-robots>.

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