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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Going to School on a Robot: Robot and User Interface Design Features that Matter

  • Author(s): Ahumada-Newhart, Veronica
  • et al.

Telepresence robots have recently been introduced as a way for children who are homebound due to medical conditions to attend their local schools. These robots provide an experience that is a much richer learning experience than the typical home instruction services of 4–5 hours a week. Because the robots on the mar- ket today were designed for use by adults in work settings, they do not necessarily fit children in school settings. We carried out a study of 19 homebound students, interviewing and observing them as well as inter- viewing their parents, teachers, administrators, and classmates. We organized our findings along the lines of the various tasks and settings the child is in, developing a learner-centered analytic framework, then teacher-,classmate-, and homebound-controller-centered analytic frameworks. Although some features of current robots fit children in school settings, we discovered a number of cases where there was a mismatch or additional fea- tures are needed. Our findings are described according to analytic frames that capture user experiences. Based on these user-centered findings, we provide recommendations for designing the robot and user interface to better fit children using robots for school and learning activities.

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