Shelbot 2.0: Lessons Learned from a Higher Ed Telepresence Robot Experience

Concurrent Session 5

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Do you have distance barriers preventing students from attending a desired course? Or do you have remote staff or other stakeholders who would like to be more than just a face on a computer screen? Join us for an overview of our experience and interact with a Double Robot yourself!

Presenters

Adrienne Wooten is an Instructional Designer for the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. She partners with faculty in the Applied Behavior Analysis, Advanced Analytics in Higher Education, and Ed Tech programs. In addition, she is an online instructor for the Educational Studies program at Arizona State University, teaching both Ed Tech and Teacher Education and Leadership courses. Before joining the team at Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Adrienne spent nearly a decade in K-12 education. She taught in the 8th grade math classroom for five years then took over as the district math curriculum, instruction, and assessment specialist. During this time, she taught and designed several high school math classes online with the district program, eSchool, in both Blackboard and Canvas. Adrienne also served as adjunct faculty in a program designed to assist educators in gaining the K-8 Mathematics Endorsement in Arizona. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Psychology with a minor in Statistics from Northern Arizona University, a Post-Baccalaureate Degree in Secondary Mathematics Education from Rio Salado College, and a Masters Degree in Educational Technology and E-Learning from Northcentral University.

Extended Abstract

Learning Objectives

  • Identify various ways telepresence robots can be implemented in higher education.

  • Identify troubleshooting suggestions for seamless implementation.

  • Summarize user experiences with regards to social presence and attitudes towards the robot.

  • Experiment controlling a Double Robot, as well as interacting with a pilot user from Double Robotics.

Materials Provided

  • Presentation slides.

  • List of troubleshooting tips for Double Robot implementation.

  • A Double Robot

From cameos on Bob’s Burgers, to supporting roles on the Big Bang Theory, telepresence robots have increased in prevalence in popular culture over the past few years. In addition, these robots, such as the Double Robot, have been implemented in corporate environments such as WIRED (Dreyfuss, 2015) and across multiple higher education institutions. MIT’s Sloan School of Management utilized the Double Robot in both their education office and the classroom, noting such key experiences as the level of attention required by the person operating the robot as well as the variety of communication opportunities the remote user can participate in (Hirst, 2016; Nichols, 2015). After a review of the literature regarding online and distance learning, Gleason and Greenhow (2017) recognized telepresence robots have “the unique potential for embodied communication which facilitates social presence” (p. 162). In a robust study, Bell, Cain, Peterson, and Cheng (2016) examined several different technologies used to allow remote student users to attend courses in Michigan State University’s Ph.D. program in Educational Psychology and Educational Technology. From 2D solutions such as traditional videoconference technologies, to the stationary Kubi, to the Double Robot, Bell et al. (2016) systematically observed student experiences with each technology. Students preferred the Double Robot for a number of reasons including the ability to move around the classroom, rather than the dependence on other students to physically move them for optimal participation. Still, the literature regarding implementation and troubleshooting is rather limited, particularly for the newest version of the Double Robot, the Double 2.

In our pilot project we implemented a telepresence robot in the higher education classroom and collected feedback to improve future experiences. Specifically, this project employed the Double 2 Robot to allow for an out-of-state student to attend University Service Learning 410 at Arizona State University. Kristoffersson, Coradeschi, and Loutfi (2013) define the pilot user of the robot as the individual operating the robot remotely and the local users as those in the physical environment with the robot. The out-of-state student in this project served as the pilot user and the students in the physical classroom as well as the faculty member were considered local users. An infographic was developed to aid in the use of the Double 2 Robot. Observational data was gathered regarding communications of the pilot user in discussions and other classroom activities, as well as any troubleshooting scenarios that surfaced. Data was used to edit the infographic for optimal usability. At the end of the course, the local users as well as the pilot user were asked to complete online surveys aimed to summarize their experience with the Double 2 Robot.

The Service Learning course was small, with only 10 students, including the pilot user, and one faculty member. Three local users as well as the pilot user completed a survey designed to get a sense of the impact of the robot on social presence in the classroom. Although the response rate was low, the response to the experience was overwhelmingly positive. One-hundred percent of the local users as well as the pilot user thought this was an awesome experience to work with new technology. The pilot user expressed that, overall, attending class via the Double was as close to attending the class in person as possible. The infographic created ended up being quite valuable to the pilot user, however, it was unnecessary for the local student users. We ensured the Double Robot was delivered to the classroom and ready to go each time, rather than using the original buddy system with a local student user. The only difficulty the pilot user expressed was the ability to join in conversations, though she could hear the local users clearly. Several key troubleshooting actions were discovered, and these recommendations will be provided to participants.

Discovery Session

  • A short presentation (roughly 5-7 minutes) will be provided to participants highlighting our experience and ideas for implementation, as well as troubleshooting suggestions. We look forward to collaborating with participants looking to implement a telepresence robot, as well as learning from those who have had similar experiences.

  • Participants will be given the opportunity to control a Double 2 Robot, as well as interact with a pilot user from Double Robotics.

References

Bell, J., Cain, W., Peterson, A., & Cheng, C. (2016) From 2D to Kubi to Doubles: Designs for Student Telepresence in Synchronous Hybrid Classrooms. International Journal of Designs for Learning, 7(3). doi: https://doi.org/10.14434/ijdl.v7i3.19520

Dreyfuss, E. (2015). My Life as a Robot. Retrieved from https://www.wired.com/2015/09/my-life-as-a-robot-double-robotics-telecommuting-longread/

Gleason, B., & Greenhow, C. (2017). Hybrid Education: The Potential of Teaching and Learning with Robot-Mediated Communication. Online Learning, 21(4). doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.24059/olj.v21i4.1276

Hirst, P. (2016). Flipping the office telepresence model. Retrieved from https://techcrunch.com/2016/06/18/flipping-the-office-telepresence-model/  

Kristoffersson, A., Coradeschi, S., & Loutfi, A. (2013). A Review of Mobile Robotic Telepresence. Advances in Human-Computer Interaction, 2013 (9023160). doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/902316

Nichols, G. (2015). Prestigious school weighs use of telepresence robots in the classroom. Retrieved from http://www.zdnet.com/article/prestigious-school-weighs-use-of-telepresence-robots-in-the-classroom/