LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Virtual learning is the era of COVID-19 has gone to the next level. A professor at Temple University’s Klein College of Media and Communication in Philadelphia is using a robot to teach an on-site class for aspiring journalists.

Professor Amy Caples conducts her popular Media Performance undergraduate course from home with the use of a telepresence robot named Sheldon as an homage one of the main characters of the hit TV show, “The Big Bang Theory.”

“The fact that they now have a robot in their classroom it just sort of makes the whole thing — of course you, of course you have a robot, of course you do a show from home because everything is different now,” Caples tells CBS Philly‘s Natasha Brown.

Caples guides the robot around the studio while giving instructions to students. “Shell,” as it’s nicknamed, is a valuable part of learning, especially in a class where hands-on experience is vital.

“You really lose a huge part of the pedagogy which is life in the studio, life in the control room. I feel really grateful that for the students who can do it, can come to campus and learn the business from the inside out,” she says.

For many of Caples’ students, it’s the only opportunity to assemble and learn in-person since the university went all virtual two weeks into the start of the school year due to rising COVID-19 cases.

“I’m just so thankful we can have an in-person experience, especially for this type of class that’s all hands-on and performance-based,” senior Jane Vitelli said.

“It’s funny at first because it’s like her on a little robot but it’s also useful because she’s able to come over to us and talk to us,” junior Camyron Decosti said.

Sheldon is a big hit for students embracing a new normal for learning during this COVID-19 era.

“I want them to embrace how all of us are going about teaching in a brand-new world, and I hope Shell just becomes something that is like part of the experience,” Caples said.