East Lothian Council

Classroom robot trials help absent children to participate in school life

Published Monday 26th February 18

AV1 robot avatar in action

East Lothian Council is trialling a new avatar robot called AV1 that allows children who are absent from school on a long term basis the chance to participate in school life.

The AV1 robot, developed by Norwegian company No Isolation, aims to help children with long term illnesses stay connected with their peers. With AV1, the child can participate in class and maintain contact with their school friends, from the comfort of their own home or hospital bed.

The AV1 uses a one way video stream and two way audio stream that allows the child to see, hear and communicate with their teacher and classmates. It is controlled by the child on an app that is on their tablet or mobile phone, and multi-level security measures are in place - for example, it is password protected and locked to a single device, it uses fully encrypted streams and is accessible in real time only.

Following initial success and positive feedback from the users involved, the authority has ordered more AV1 units to support children and young people with a range of needs.

Fiona Robertson, Head of Education, said:

“We are really pleased to be trialling this new technology in our schools. At a recent initial trial, one of our class teachers at Campie Primary School was able to read a picture book to, and interact successfully with, a learner at home. The good quality camera image allowed the learner to see the book clearly and discuss the illustrations, and when the robot, Heart, was rotated by the learner to have a good look around the classroom, she commented that her tray was still in its usual place and the classroom displays had been updated. The Head Teacher was also able to join in and have a chat with the learner about how she was doing. Since then, the AV1 has been in frequent use, and the learner has participated in project work and has even been able to view their artwork on the classroom walls.

“The teacher has commented on how natural the interaction feels, and admits that any initial doubts she may have had about robots in the classroom have quickly dissipated. We are really pleased with the device, and feedback from school and the learner’s parents has been very positive. It’s been wonderful to see its impact on the learner, her teacher and the school staff.”

Alison Elgin, Depute Head Teacher at Campie Primary School, said:

“This technology has made such a difference to the child and her family. The school has been in touch with the family on a regular basis, but this has been a particularly powerful addition for the learner to keep communicating with her classmates and her teacher.”

Fiona Robertson adds:

“Because of this success, we are exploring how we can use this technology further to support more children and young people who require additional support in their learning.”

For more information about No Isolation email info@noisolation.com or visit www.noisolation.com

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