Michigan State University is leading the way in the research and use of robots in higher education online classes. To help advance online learning, MSU researchers are using robots to help distance learners feel more connected in their classes.
Christine Greenhow, MSU associate professor of educational psychology and educational technology, was one of the first in higher education to put robots to work in the classroom. Her studies have found that using robots can contribute to a better, richer learning experience for both remote and in-class students and their professors.
The robots, which consist of video screens that sit atop mobile machines, allow distance learners to control each movement of the robot by using keyboard arrows or a game console. This gives them the opportunity to interact with classmates and the professor in an authentic way—as if they were attending class in person.
Beyond helping to make more engaging learning spaces, these robots already have broader applications. For example, other MSU researchers have begun to find ways to bring campus experiences, like tours of the MSU Museum, to anyone, anywhere.