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Robot helps professors keep student teachers on track

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FARGO—One small piece of technology is looking to make a big difference for North Dakota State University student teachers.

For Advisor and Agricultural Professor Adam Marx finding the time to observe multiple student teachers every semester can be difficult.

Some of his students are up to 200 miles away, and he has to visit each one often.

"We observe each student teacher 4 times during a semester," said Marx.

But he would like to do more.

"Not enough hours in the week, month, semester to get out and see all of them the way that we would like to," said Marx.

And, thanks to this little piece of technology that dream is coming true.

Meet the SWIVL robot.

How it works that the student teacher will wear a lanyard that has a tracker, and the student teacher will move around the classroom while the device follows.

And back at NDSU, professor can watch it live.

Audra Montgomery has been student teaching in Harvey, North Dakota this semester.

"First couple of weeks were like, yeah, this is a lot but now. It's like this is my passion," said Montgomery.

Adam watches quietly and takes notes as Montgomery is getting real world experience.

"This face to face, I can see his reaction to questions I might have, certain things he might be able to walk me through," said Montgomery.

"Post-conference I could as I'm typing notes during the lesson following the lesson I can just bring that up," said Marx.

Adam also records each session, so the students can get a chance to evaluate themselves. "Let me learn about different ticks I have and what I need to improve on like my placement in the classroom," said Montgomery.

While, Adam says these devices won't be totally replacing face-to-face observation, It is another effective tool in the teaching tool box.

"Subtle things that make a big difference, I don't want to replace that. It will not only enhance learning experiences broadly defined, but also allow us to efficiently utilize state resources," said Marx.

This is the first year NDSU is using the robots.

Marx says he hopes to eventual help expand the use across the Education Department.