A cutting-edge initiative that offers homebound students greater opportunity and access to interact with classmates and teachers has been hailed as the nation’s best example of digital learning success by a national online news and information organization and a Wi-Fi network provider.
eSchool News and Xirrus have named AACPS as the grand prize winner of their Innovate to Educate Awards program, a nationwide initiative designed to highlight the best examples of school systems using integrated technology to enhance classroom access. Teaming maneuverable robots developed by Double Robotics with wireless access, AACPS’ Office of Instructional Technology has trained parents, students, teachers, and administrators to use the devices to assist students who otherwise cannot be present in their schools.
At Old Mill High School last year, for example, student Peter Jauschnegg was able to maneuver a robot from class to class from his home while undergoing treatments for leukemia. The robot’s microphone and camera allowed full engagement and interaction; Jauschnegg could see and hear the classroom instruction and students in the class could communicate directly with Jauschnegg.
“We are thrilled to recognize Anne Arundel County Public Schools, and to showcase its successful use of telepresence robots for distance learning of home and hospital students,” said Robert Morrow, CEO of eSchool Media. “Our goal for this contest was to inform and inspire schools across the country as they undertake new technology initiatives to improve and expand teaching and learning, and Anne Arundel’s program is a perfect example of the sizeable impact that technology can have on students’ education.”
AACPS now has five devices to deploy at schools across the county as needs dictate. The capabilities extend beyond home schooling to accelerated learning opportunities, virtual field trips and related experiences, and professional development as appropriate.
“It is our firm belief that to be a great school system, we must meet the needs of every single child enrolled in our schools,” Superintendent George Arlotto said. “That requires us to think outside the box and explore options like this that go above and beyond traditional classroom settings. The value of allowing students like Peter Jauschnegg to remain – as much as possible – with their friends, essentially in their classrooms, and continuing their academic studies on an appropriate pace is simply priceless.”