Annie Miller, a CU Boulder student majoring in International Affairs, approached her Arabic Instructor, Mona Attwa, about continuing her Arabic language learning in the Spring 2017 semester. Due to a hip surgery over the Winter break, Ms. Miller was unable to attend class. Eager to not miss out on the beginning weeks of the Beginning Arabic 2 course while she recovered from the surgery, Ms. Miller asked if any accommodation could be made.

With collaboration and support from the Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations, OIT’s Academic Technology Design Team, and the Anderson Language and Technology Center (ALTEC), Ms. Attwa and Ms. Miller utilized a new technology available on the CU Boulder campus, the Kubi, in order to make the accommodation possible.

A Kubi is a stand that holds an iPad and allows remote students to actively participate in a face-to-face class and control their classroom experience by panning, tilting, and turning the iPad in any direction. From their home computer, Kubi students can see, hear, and speak with their instructor and classmates using the iPad’s camera and microphone, with minimal disruption to the learning experience. In Spring 2016, a Kubi enabled a student to attend a full semester of Italian 1020, taught by Italian Instructor Giorgio Corda, without being present on campus.

Arabic Instructor Mona Attwa teaches to her in-class students with Kubi student Annie Miller attending to the side.

“The main thing that impresses me about the Kubi is its simplicity and small size,” Ms. Attwa said. “Kubi is a robot, yet you just see an iPad on a white stand (the Kubi) that sits on a tripod. We emailed a link to Annie, and she managed to log on in order to control the Kubi from home. Using the arrows on her keyboard, she could turn 360 degrees to view the whole class, and move the Kubi up and down in order to work on or discuss group activities. I think the Kubi fulfilled the task that was required, and Annie didn’t miss a session. Very few times would the Kubi freeze for a few moments, and Annie would quickly reconnect.”

“Of course, this smoothness in having the Kubi would not have been possible without the help of OIT, ALTEC, and Noah Dahm, a student in our class who set up the Kubi each day. I met with Italian Instructor Giorgio Corda, who had previously used the Kubi in his classroom, and Mark Werner from OIT’s Academic Technology Design Team and they gave me all the directions on Kubi and how to best use it in class. Mark Knowles, the director of ALTEC, offered to store and charge the Kubi in his office, right next to my classroom.”

Kubi student Annie Miller attends class via the new technology.

The student experience was equally successful. “My experience with the Kubi was only positive,” Ms. Miller said. “It was incredibly helpful to be able to continue my studies with Arabic despite my hip surgery due to an injury. Without the Kubi I would have been unable to attend class every day, which would have left me significantly behind in the course. It was my hope to stay on track with the language and not fall behind, and the Kubi made that possible. The technology itself is very simple and easy to use. It was also nice that I was able to control it myself without the help of my peers in class; I was not a distraction to them, as I could move myself and position myself to see either the board or my professor as she moved around the room. All in all, my experience using the Kubi was very helpful throughout the time that I needed it, as it allowed me to be present in class and stay on track with my studies.”

Kubi student Annie Miller attends class via the new technology.

“It was indeed a success,” Ms. Attwa said. “Now Annie is back to physical attendance in class. It was really very nice and smooth. I am very happy we could accommodate Annie that easily.”

The Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations is proud of its exceptional faculty, including Ms. Attwa, who are dedicated to supporting their students’ success. For more information about OIT’s pilot program, visit the Kubi Innovation Grant Pilot page. Photo credit: Glenn Asakawa, Strategic Relations Associate Director for Photo and Video Production. This article is also featured in the Colorado Arts and Sciences Magazine.