Guest Post: Sheboygan Area School District

The Sheboygan Area School District is a large, urban school district on the eastern shore of Wisconsin. Our district is made up of 26 schools and serves a diverse student population of over 10,300 students in four-year-old kindergarten through 12th grade.

The Sheboygan Area School District is a forward-thinking district and we are always looking for solutions to meet the varied needs of our student population.

At one of our elementary schools, we have a 2nd grade student who is recovering from a rare form of cancer called Burkitt's Lymphoma and could not physically attend classes. Joseph’s illness and treatments made it difficult for him to attend school. “We found that piling days of school work on this student wasn’t very effective because it became very overwhelming for him,” said Mike Jaber, who is the Sheboygan Area School District Coordinator of Instructional Technology. “I watched a news story on the Double Robot, it piqued my interest as a district technology leader and I looked into it further.” Jaber was able to test drive a demo of the Double, and after speaking to one of the Double employees, knew this technology could help serve our students in need.

There were other technologies out there that had some similarities with functionality, but nothing compared to the Double’s build quality, ease of use, and capacity to navigate around a space to actively participate.  The Sheboygan Area School District purchased two robots from Double Robotics.

While the Sheboygan Area School District had hired a tutor to work with Joseph, he was missing out on the social aspect of school as well as the academics. Through use of the Double, we were able to offer Joseph a unique opportunity to attend school virtually. After a few test runs, Jaber met with Joseph’s family and teacher to explain the idea. Joseph would use his iPad at home or at the hospital to control his Double, which would be kept in the classroom.

The robot affectionately became known as ‘Jobot.’

Joseph’s teacher Mrs. Karen Rowan-Lieser welcomed the opportunity to have Joseph virtually attend class.

"As we strive to do with all kids, we are meeting Joseph’s needs in a different manner,” Rowan-Lieser said. “We always try to provide different options for kids and their parents. This is just another option.”

‘Jobot’ has given Joseph the ability to attend school from a hospital bed, or the comfort of his own home, and still feel “connected” to his classmates and classwork.

Joseph virtually joined the classroom most days. He could listen to lessons presented by his teacher or work with his classmates on assignments. Sometimes, Joseph’s dad would accompany ‘Jobot’ around school during a special event, so other students at school can say hi and Joseph can be a part of the school activity. In October, the school held a color run and Joseph was able to travel through part of the course using his Double.

Joseph has recently begun transitioning back to school and his academic and social interaction with his peers through the Double was invaluable during this absence from the classroom. His teacher felt the Double provided an essential connection to his school work and classmates, which has made his transition back much easier.

The strength of the Sheboygan Area School District is our ability to offer learning opportunities to meet the varied learning needs of our students and families. In this situation, Double Robot was able to help us provide a learning solution for a student in need. Utilizing the newest technology to help kids learn keeps us at the forefront of education.

Joseph’s classmates also benefitted from the Double’s presence, as they are able to experience how the integration of technology can be a real value in education, as well bringing awareness of how technology surrounds them in everyday life.

Pictured below, Joseph virtually practices his spelling words with a classmate, using his Double Robot.

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Pictured below, Coordinator of Instructional Technology Mike Jaber, poses for a photo with Joseph who is virtually attending class through his Double.

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Video:

Sheboygan Press article: http://www.sheboyganpress.com/story/news/2015/12/07/robot-attends-school-young-cancer-patient/76737008/

Blog post & photos courtesy of Mike Jaber of Sheboygan Area School District