UT Arlington Using Robots to Help Students Learn Remotely – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

The pandemic has forced the world of education to think outside the box.

UT Arlington Nursing Students do this with the help of robots.

“I think this may be the future way we do things,” said Jennifer Roye, assistant dean of simulation and technology at UTA College of Nursing.

NBC 5 interviewed Roye about a telepresence robot that she dialed into from another location. We can talk to each other without physical contact and walk through the halls of the UTA Smart Hospital together.

“With the pandemic that is pushing us out of our box per se, we now like it outside of our box,” she jokes.

UT Arlington

This is the foundation of what helped the care program deal with the pandemic. The telepresence robots have wheels, a large screen similar to an iPad, cameras and complex sensors. Students and professors can move freely in a clinical classroom and communicate clearly through microphones and speakers.

The technology is nothing new to UTA and many other schools, but the robots have proven incredibly helpful during the pandemic when students and professors need to work remotely due to illness, quarantine, safety concerns, or distance.

“We have mobility so I can move,” said Roye. “You can actually participate clinically without missing your time there.”

Now UTA is tripling its robot fleet this year thanks to funding they just received from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s Nursing Innovation Grant Program.

“I think many of these new modalities will persist in these new innovative teaching methods in the future,” said Roye.

Students use the robots not only in class but also on site to train in nursing homes and other high risk locations.

“This minimizes exposure at both ends and allows students to communicate with patients and staff there,” said Roye. “With telemedicine now playing a big role, this is basically the same concept.”

Even after the end of the pandemic, the nursing school plans to keep the fleet of telepresence robots. Meagan Rogers, associate chair of undergraduate nursing at UTA, said another goal is to train nurses in rural areas who normally don’t have access to cutting-edge learning opportunities.

The world needs nurses and the robots can help.

“This technology really allows us to take nursing education where it has never been and bring clinical experience to the table. The hope is that these students will educate those staying in these communities and provide quality health care,” she said.

In addition to the 12 robots in the fleet, UTA is also getting more Ask Trainers, portable devices that allow nursing students to practice even more skills remotely. The trainers simulated an anatomy that allows students to practice tasks such as tube insertion or oxygen delivery. It is estimated that they help more than 200 students per semester.

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