by Stephen Downes
May 19, 2015
Telepresence Helps Universities Connect Virtual Students with Campus Life
Center for Digital Education,
This is an application of technology I'm not so sure of. The idea is to give virtual students the feeling of actually being on campus. So the the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has set up live video feeds their faces on tablets mounted on top of telepresence robots they remotely move around the stage and auditorium. In another university where the same technology is being implemented, "The professors didn't have to change their curriculum or even touch the robot, and after the first three weeks of use, Mathews didn't need to supervise or be involved." It seems to me that if you're going to spend that much money - the units cost $2400 per - you should mount the on a quadracopter drone and give them real freedom of movement. See also this item.
Do we actually want to close the achievement gap?
I'm not sure exactly what the "achievement gap" is supposed to be - if I look at my life, do I have an "achievement gap" with respect to Jose Bautista? Or Twitter newb Barack Obama? Having said that, I'm generally in agreement with Brian Boyd's suggestions as summarized by Ewan McIntosh (quoted):
- remove the traditional, and non-sensical academic/vocational divide
- start from the ground up, in the early years
- (stop streaming)... there is no research that supports setting
- teachers must have opportunities to talk about learning and teaching
- cooperation instead of competition between departments, school types, ages, stages, and sectors
I would also argue, with McIntosh, that collaboration with business to support education - especially primary education - is fraught with risk.
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