Joshua Martinangeli, a 7-year-old German student is too unwell to attend school. However, he is not missing out on his lessons, thanks to a technological miracle, the avatar robot. The robot attends classes for Joshua, who interacts with teachers and classmates through him. Whenever Joshua has something to say, Joshua sends a blinking signal through the robot.
Joshua’s mother, Simone Martinangeli shared in an interview with Reuters that Joshua has a tube in his neck because of severe lung disease. This makes him unable to attend school.
Ute Winterberg, who is the headmistress at the Pusteblume-Grundschule in Berlin shared how the children interact with the avatar robot. “The children talk to him, laugh with him and sometimes even chitchat with him during the lesson. Joshi can do that quite well, too,” she said.
The avatar robot project is reportedly a private initiative that is paid for by the local council in the Berlin district called Marzahn-Hellersdorf.
District education councilor Torsten Kuehne said that the district has bought four avatars for its schools. “We are the only district in Berlin that has bought four avatars for its schools. The impetus was COVID-19, but I think this will be the future well beyond the pandemic,” Kuehne stated.
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He further said that the avatar gives a student the chance to remain part of the school community whenever he is unable to attend classes in person because of various reasons.
Noah Kuessner, a student said, “I like it either way because I like the avatar,” when he was asked if he’s looking forward to meeting Joshua.
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Another classmate of Joshua’s, Beritan Aslanglu, however, said, “And I would like it better if Joshi could really come to school.”
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