University of Massachusetts Medical School graduates participate in a FaceTime video chat in … [+]
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Topline: A university in Japan used robots controlled by students at home to allow graduates to virtually walk across the stage to receive their diplomas, as traditions to mark the end of the school year like prom, spring break and graduation are cancelled worldwide because of the coronavirus pandemic.
- At Tokyo’s Business Breakthrough University, students in quarantine controlled robot avatars that were dressed in the traditional caps and gowns with an iPad displaying the graduates’ faces at the official graduation ceremony. The Newme robots have been used by Nippon Airways to show potential travelers faraway destinations or allow paralyzed people to go to work virtually in cafes.
- Robot avatars are one of the more elaborate means that educational institutions have taken to mark the end of the school year during the coronavirus pandemic, when most schools have been shut down and the Centers for Disease Control have recommended against large gatherings.
- U.S. high school students are preparing for the cancellation of senior proms and experimenting with holding mass “parties” on virtual video platforms, like Zoom and Facetime.
- A group of Japanese elementary school students organized their own graduation ceremony on Minecraft, an open-ended, first-person game where users can create their own worlds with building blocks. University students stuck at home have opted to use it to recreate their college campuses.
- Miami University in Ohio announced that instead of the traditional graduation ceremonies, the university would host an online spring commencement with an in-person gathering to follow in September, tentatively—other universities have cancelled or pushed back ceremonies, or left students in limbo as they hesitate to pull the trigger on cancelling commencement.
Key background: As of Tuesday, there were 1.4 million confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide, with more than 80,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. At least half of the world’s students are estimated to be out of school over coronavirus fears.