For most parents back to school is emotional, exciting and relieving! For students, it could translate to a mixed bag of emotions: joy, fear, anxiety and routine. But overall it means an end to the oh-so-long summer holidays.
The education scenario has witnessed a progressive change, and the advances in technology have demonstrated their value in everyday learning. Digital technologies are now deeply rooted in everyday learning, and they transformed education a few years ago. Robotics and artificial intelligence take advancement to the next level. Robots in schools are now paving new avenues for pedagogy and are improving the quality of education received.
One of the challenges in the education field is the case of homebound children. These students are unable to attend school regularly due to a variety of reasons like long-term illnesses or disabilities or students with behavioral issues. Over more than 6.5 million students in the US are said to miss considerable amounts of school time (Source: a study by Elizabeth Cha, Samantha Chen, and Maja J Mataric). The current solutions offered to this problem often do not take into account the absence of social connection with peers.
This is where telepresence robots step in. These robots in schools help students stay on track with their education and help them feel an integral part of the education system and their peers. Robots in schools assist in real-time learning, allows them to participate in the classroom as if they were physically there.
At OhmniLabs we are working with MissingSchool, an organization in Australia dedicated to bringing education and school to children in hospitals or long-term care. In 2010, Darcy, who was suffering from three rare blood disorders, used the Ohmni robot to continue with his education and keep in contact with his classmates. It assisted him in keeping on track with his class, interacting with his classmates and eased his transition into normality.
The presence of robots in schools is a novel idea and is faced with challenges of its own. Each student is different and has different requirements. Our primary aim at OhmniLabs is to understand the challenges faced by students in difficulty and to make their education goals met with effective cognitive and social development. And to make education accessible to all.