Italian 1020 Kubi Pilot: Giving a Distance Student a Seat at the Table

Last Updated: 01/31/2019


Check out the recently published OIT Story, “A Remote Seat at the Table,” distributed in CU Boulder Today on August 29th.

Jean Bouchard, Coordinator of the Modified Foreign Language Program (MFLP), recently received a Development Award from ASSETT to use Kubis to bring distance students into a face-to-face Modified Spanish 1010 class. This Kubi pilot builds on a successful 2014 trial in which a number of students attended class regularly on Zoom. Jean hopes that moving the distance students off the wall and onto the Kubis will improve their sense of identity and embodiment in their language learning. OIT’s Distance Learning Services Team and the ATDT are helping to facilitate this pilot.


In a collaboration with Giorgio Corda of the Department of French and Italian (FRIT), the Academic Technology Design Team piloted the use of a Kubi to bring a distance student into a highly interactive face-to-face ITAL 1020.005 class for the spring 2016 semester.

picture of student using Kubi
Kubi is a device that holds an iPad and allows a student at a distance to control their perspective while videoconferencing

A situation arose where a senior auditor who successfully completed ITAL 1010 was moving out of state but wanted to continue his CU language studies from a distance. The ITAL 1020 course he needed is not currently offered online and the physical classroom in Humanities was not equipped with the technology required to enable videoconferencing as a solution.

The ATDT’s challenge was to meet the distance student’s needs without disrupting the face-to-face classroom environment. We identified existing resources and partnered closely with the instructor to pilot the use of a Kubi to bring this distance student into the face-to-face foreign language class for the entire semester.


The Kubi met the needs of the distance student, enabling him to attend 95% of class without disrupting the learning experience for the face-to-face students. Other data from post-semester surveys of the distance and face-to-face students surface other accomplishments of this pilot:

Kubi feedback infographic
This infographic has additional results from the ITAL 1020 pilot.

A number of strategies contributed to the success of this pilot and should be repeated in future Kubi research, including:

  • introducing the Kubi to the face-to-face students at the start of the pilot.
  • pre-, mid-, and post-semester surveys tracking the impact of the Kubi on the classroom environment
  • purposeful planning and incorporation of the distance student into class activities
  • the use of volunteer student Kubi partners to troubleshoot technology issues and help further mediate the distance student experience
  • at least one classroom observation to ensure the equipment supports the learning environment and that the distance student is successfully incorporated in classroom activities

We have outlined a more extensive set of Classroom Strategies for the successful incorporation of Kubis into courses on the CU Boulder campus.

Recommendations for Campus

Based on the successes of this small pilot, the ATDT recommends the further exploration of Kubis as a distance learning solution for the following academic situations:

  • highly interactive face-to-face classes where it is advantageous for the distance student to control their perspective
  • classrooms that are not equipped with video-conferencing software
  • courses without an equivalent online option

Use of this technology should be driven by the needs of the student, thus we have identified some specific scenarios where a Kubi may provide an appropriate solution. A distance student could be brought into a face-to-face course on a Kubi if:

  • the student lives out of state and is close to completing CU graduation requirements
  • the student is an athlete whose travel schedule means regular absences from face-to-face classes
  • the student wants to study abroad but must complete a required face-to-face course that same semester on campus
  • an extenuating circumstance requires the student to be off-campus

There are other scenarios that could be a good fit for Kubi around disabilities, but these may be more sensitive and might result in other unanticipated consequences. Disability Services would be a good partner to explore scenarios such as: students who use wheelchairs or who experience temporary mobility challenges, especially on snowy days; students with social anxiety or other psychological or medical impairments.

OIT is currently investigating larger questions around Kubis on the CU Boulder campus as another tool to provide flexibility to our students. Contact us if you believe a Kubi may be appropriate for your teaching and learning needs.

Alignment with Strategic Goals of the University:

  • Retention: Campus could increase graduation rates by allowing students to complete smaller face-to-face courses on a Kubi without being on campus. Our foreign language departments are one high-impact area to target for further exploration around improving student graduation rates since many campus majors require 3 semesters of language study as a graduation requirement and these classes are rarely offered online. For more information, see the 2013 analysis conducted by Jean Bouchard of the Modified Foreign Language Program at CU Boulder.
  • Revenue: If distance students could attend face-to-face classes on a Kubi, we could accommodate more students without always creating distance sections.
  • Reputation: The use of Kubis in the classroom has not been widely studied. We are currently collaborating with Michigan State to further the available research and data around using Kubis in higher education to provide flexible learning solutions for undergraduate students. CU Boulder’s contribution to this research could further our reputation as an innovator in higher ed.


Giorgio Corda, Italian Instructor, Department of French and Italian
Courtney Fell, Learning Experience Designer, Academic Technology Design Team, OIT
Doris Cheung, Learning Experience Designer, Academic Technology Design Team, OIT
Joseph Michalsky, Student Assistant, Academic Technology Design Team, OIT
Peter Cullum, Graphic Designer, Academic Technology Design Team, OIT
Jeremy Carter, Studio Manager, Learning Spaces Technology, OIT