Bethany Richardson, sophomore social work major from Nacogdoches, lives at City Square in Dallas, 181 miles away from ACU. Despite being off campus, a new robot allows her to attend and stay mobile during class.
“By using the Double, I have more mobility in the classroom,” said Richardson. “I can hear people, people can hear me, and I have the ability to move around the room and interact with other students.”
Richardson said that the older method of connecting to class was by using video conferencing, which does not allow mobility, or a chance for a student to interact with other classmates. With the Double, the concept of distant learning has become readily available to her by connecting to class through an app on her iPad.
The robot, dubbed as a Double, is designed by Double Robotics. It is a telepresence robot that allows a person to attend and move around a room without physically being in that specific area.
ACU owns two Double robots; one robot is at City Square and the other remains on campus.
Lyndell Lee, educational technology specialist, handles learning technologies in educational spaces on campus.
The robot makes students who are not on campus mobile around the room.
Lee said the robot weighs only 15 pounds and costs around $2,500. Altogether, ACU has invested $5,000 in the Double robots.
“We can make students stay another year or we can provide this opportunity, which is considerably cheaper,” said Lee.
Lee said that there are three options for off-campus students to connect with ACU classes.
“You can take online classes, drive or fly a professor directly to the student or you can experiment with a robot,” said Lee. “This allows for open conversation and it saves time and money.”