HEBRON, NE – The semester for many college students across Nebraska is wrapping up with final exams this week.
Next semester however, the Southeast Community College Learning Center in Hebron will offer a “robot” class beginning Jan. 9. This means that students in the Hebron area can participate remotely in a course that’s being taught in either Lincoln or Beatrice.
This technology enables students to travel throughout the campus even if they’re not physically there. The robot features a screen showing the student’s face providing a more personal interaction with the teacher and other students.
It’s been described as “an iPad on a mobile mic stand.”
The next challenge is finding enough students to enroll in robot courses, according to Hebron Learning Center coordinator Crystal Fangmeier.
“One thing we’ve struggled with is finding students that are from the local area that are already in a program through SCC,” Fangmeier said. “We don’t necessarily know who they are. Maybe they’re traveling to Beatrice once or twice a week already. We don’t have access to that information. So, there could be students that could benefit from the robot classes that we don’t know about.”
The SCC’s other five learning centers in Wahoo, Plattsmouth, York, Nebraska City and Falls City all offered robot courses this fall. The college is using this technology in a pilot program funded by a $120,582 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Blythe Norder, the administrative assistant at Hebron’s SCC Learning Center, says one student in Hebron is enrolled in a math course that she’ll take via robot.
Hebron’s Learning Center offers eight classes in house with seven students currently enrolled.
“We’re open to talk to anybody about classes that are offered at the other campuses,” Norder said, “and getting them on a robot and in those classes.”
Norder also noted the conveniences gained by local students who enroll in robot courses.
“As a student it saves you time,” Norder said. “Gas money, and driving can be challenging in the winter. So, this possibly could help people miss less class commuting.”
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