Cardinal welcomes robots in classroom
ELDON — The Cardinal Community School District has done it again.
Soon, a robot will make Cardinal’s recent technologically upgraded schools look more like scenes from a futuristic movie than a small school district in rural Iowa.
“Technology is amazing,” said Cardinal Community School Superintendent Joel Pedersen. “Who would imagine this, when we are surrounded by cornfields?”
The school’s latest gadget is a robot from Double Robotics known simply as “Double” that is basically an iPad mounted on machine similar to a Segway. “Double” provides the ability for anyone, anywhere to operate it remotely and become “present” during meetings, the workplace or, as in Cardinal’s case, the classroom.
Pedersen, along with Cameron Chamberlin, the district’s technology director, discovered the machine while attending the International Society for Technology Educational Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, last June.
“We were looking for different things in our classroom,” Chamberlin said. “It was Joel who actually came up on it.”
Cardinal administrators made the swift decision to purchase the machine. They have been testing it for nearly a week now.
“We liked the technology of the robot,” Chamberlin said. “We basically got it to test it out and see what other applications we can use it for.”
He added that they have discovered multiple ways in which the machine could be useful for the district.
“The possibilities are endless,” Pedersen said. “I see it as a possibility to bring in guest speakers and partner with businesses. We might even be able to network with Indian Hills [Community College] with our culinary department when kids are working on a recipe [so] they would be able to speak directly with a chef.”
According to Double Robotics’ website, the Double has the ability to roll around while being operated, or driven remotely using any iPad, iPhone, iPod touch or a computer loaded with Google Chrome. Though it doesn’t come with its own iPad, the machine weighs approximately 15 pounds once an iPad is installed. It holds an internal rechargeable lithium ion battery and comes with an adapter and mountable recharging station.
“We are not the only school using it,” Chamberlin said. “We saw where a student who was out for a while was still able to have his eyes and ears in the classroom.”
Among other uses, Cardinal plans to use the machine for one of its own students this coming 2014-15 school year.
“We are using it for a student who is having back surgery, “ Chamberlin said.
Pederson also sees the Double as a way for students with long-term illnesses, who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend school, to be able to connect with their teachers and peers.
“What about having them connect with their friends and them cheering them up,” he said. “We feel like it would be a great cultural tool.”