Alabama A&M Implements Telepresence Robots in Hybrid Classes

Telepresence robots from Double Robotics used at Alabama A&M UniversityAlabama A&M University is making use of innovative telepresence robotic technology to provide professors and their student options far beyond the traditional classroom setting.

In May 2016, AAMU’s Information Technology Services (ITS) began using “telepresence robots” from Double Robotics, a unique technology enabling the nation’s colleges to build hybrid classrooms (with both online and in-person students), as well as to allow faculty to conduct classes remotely. Some institutions use the robotic technology to offer remote tours of library services and facilities.

The robots can be controlled with Android and iOS software via app downloads or from desktop computers. A human presence is offered through an actual face that appears in real time.

During the just-ended summer session at AAMU, faculty member Stacy Carter conducted a history class on the Huntsville campus from his suburban Birmingham home in Hoover.

AAMU faculty member Stacy Carter conducts a history class on the Huntsville campus from his suburban Birmingham home in Hoover using telepresence robot.
AAMU faculty member Stacy Carter.

“I had the opportunity to lecture, discuss historical topics and interact with my students through the use of this robot,” said Carter. “At first, students—along with myself—thought that the robot was somewhat foreign and out-of-place, but we soon adopted to this machine rolling around the classroom projecting my voice and image. I was able to provide the educational experience using the telepresence robot as if I was physically in the classroom. Students were able to take notes and engaged in scholarly discussion with the robot.”

AAMU and other universities across the country are continuously finding new applications for the technology, from assisting pharmacy students in North Carolina to providing instruction to nursing students in Alabama.

Among AAMU’s applications for the new technology are assistance with the fulfillment of its Lawson State Community College agreement in Birmingham; the establishment of hybrid courses; conducting remote campus tours; assistance in the area of veteran affairs; and enhancing distance education. The names for AAMU’s telepresence robots are Princess Patton, Sir Drake, Lord Lee and Count Carnegie.

Source: Alabama A&M University

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