ASU offers interactive robots for MBA students to attend remotely

June 1, 2017

Getting your MBA at Arizona State University just got more accessible. If you can’t avoid missing class, new robots will allow students to attend remotely.

Already the highest-ranked part-time MBA in the state, the W. P. Carey School of Business' Professional Flex MBA is committed to supporting student success by offering the latest in innovative technology for today’s working professional. Telepresence robot Students in the Professional Flex MBA program may request the virtual learning assistant — using a telepresence robot to attend class remotely — up to 10 times throughout the course of the program, which can be completed in two to four years. Photo by W. P. Carey School of Business Download Full Image

Starting this fall, three interactive robots nicknamed Carey, Sparky and Gizmo will be wheeled out in MBA classrooms. A rolling stand that holds a tablet will allow students to actively participate in class without being present on campus. Students will be able to see, hear and interact with their professor and classmates using the tablet’s microphone and camera.

The robot —with the student’s face on-screen — can maneuver around the classroom, pan, tilt and drive in any direction without help from others. From their personal computer, tablet or even their iPhone, remote students can position themselves using their keyboard to see the lesson board and their professor so they never fall behind on coursework.

The technology, designed by Double Robotics, is small and simple to use, and won’t disrupt the learning experience for others.

"Working professionals make a huge commitment when they return to school, so we want to give them every opportunity to succeed, whether that means having the choice of evening or online classes, or taking more time to finish your degree if that's what fits your schedule," said Amy Hillman, dean of the W. P. Carey School of Business. "A technological solution that allows students to be involved in discussions and assignments — even when they can't physically be in class — means they don't have to sacrifice school for work or vice versa. It helps them stay on track in their studies and ultimately in their careers."

The robots will not replace classroom attendance; they’re intended for occasional use by students who can’t avoid missing class. Students in the Professional Flex MBA program may request the virtual learning assistant up to 10 times throughout the course of the program. Designed to align with the busy schedules of working professionals, the Professional Flex MBA can be completed in two to four years.

Nationally, the Professional Flex MBA ranks No. 33 among part-time MBA programs, a six-spot improvement from last year’s ranking by U.S. News and World Report.

The deadline to apply for the W. P. Carey Professional Flex MBA is June 30.

Rebecca Ferriter

ASU professor receives funding to pursue international research project

June 1, 2017

International funding has allowed Jonathan Pettigrew to travel to Cardiff University, DECIPHer unit, in Wales, United Kingdom to develop a collaboration on an international project to create a theoretical model and joint grant proposal on health interventions.

Pettigrew, an assistant professor in Arizona State University's Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, and co-collaborator Jeremy Segrott, Cardiff University, received Cardiff University’s International Collaboration Seedcorn funding for summer research.  Dr. Jeremy Segrott and Dr. Jonathan Pettigrew at Cardiff University Dr. Jeremy Segrott (left), Cardiff University, and Jonathan Pettigrew (right), assistant professor in ASU’s Hugh Downs School of Human Communication pictured at Cardiff University. Download Full Image

Pettigrew and Segrott are exploring the possibilities of an international collaboration project that would allow Cardiff University doctoral students to travel to ASU for a short-term project, allow some ASU doctoral students to travel to Cardiff and establish funding for Segrott to visit ASU in the future.

Pettigrew became acquainted with DECIPHer researcher Segrott through involvement in the Society for Prevention Research and the European Society for Prevention Research .

They shared the same process evaluations of health interventions; they approached the same topics, but had different training experiences; and they considered different theories and applied different methodologies.

They worked in different contexts, countries and continents.

“Our diverse perspectives enabled us to converge on the topics from different angles and soon realized the potential benefits of working together,” said Pettigrew, when asked about the importance of bringing international scholars to ASU to promote global health.

Current and previous health intervention models use linear, unidirectional thinking according to Pettigrew.

The health intervention model Pettigrew and Segrott are developing is to push thinking toward considering complex systems.

“Specifically, we are drawing attention to the fact that individuals actively interpret intervention messages and also interface with their social networks (e.g., to discuss, modify, ignore, eschew, etc.) intervention messages,” Pettigrew said.

When asked how their theoretical model would benefit international scholars of global health, Pettigrew suggested that some interventions work but that the mechanisms to make them work depend on inputs from other domains of life.

Pettigrew cited one example of a school intervention for kids to advocate healthy eating depends on families buying healthy foods, cooking meals, etc. He said there are a lot of processes that the intervention depends on to make it work and not many of them are things that happen at school.

Pettigrew and Segrott are calling this an "invisible logic model" where the way the intervention works is a bit of a mystery.

“Our model theorizes that interactions between domains of life (e.g., family and school; work and neighborhood, etc.) should be considered. We detail potential processes in these social interfaces that bear on intervention effectiveness,” Pettigrew explained.

“A critical need in the development of global behavioral health promotion is understanding of how specific contexts influence and are influenced by interventions,” Pettigrew said. “Particularly salient is the need to identify and specify intervention systems and to query aspects of these systems that are interdependent with contexts and those that likely transcend contexts.”

Though still in the preliminary stages of development, the joint grant proposal Pettigrew and Segrott are drafting would focus on building prevention systems to promote global health.

Pettigrew is not a novice at receiving grants for international research projects. He previously won a total of $1 million dollars to develop a culturally adapted anti-drug program with a violence prevention aspect for middle school youth in Nicaragua. His program was named a “model program” by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Lynne MacDonald

communications specialist, School of Music