We are using telepresence robots to help children with medical needs stay connected to their home schools
Our award winning ‘Robots in Schools’ project helps chronically ill children attend school via the latest telepresence robot technology. The robot represents the child in class and bridges the gap between school and home / hospital. Early indications are that this not only provides academic continuity but also psychological benefit, aiding reintegration.
We currently have a fleet of 11 robots, four Double 2s and seven AV1s. The later are part of a DfE funded Alternative Provision Innovation Fund pilot project.
Following advice from Leslie Morissette, an early adopter of this technology in the US, we purchased two Double 2 telepresence robots from UK supplier Robosavvy in May 2018. These are being lent to Oxfordshire schools who’s pupils are undergoing cancer treatment at the Oxford Children’s Hospital.
The project has attracted media interest from both local and national press. Read the press release on our website.
What does a Double 2 cost?
If you are considering the Double 2 we would recommend the components below. Prices are from Robosavvy, without VAT and correct at 29/11/18:
- Double 2 Robot – £2225 (includes the wheel base, stalk and iPad housing but not the iPad itself)
- Audio Kit – £87.75 (provides a speaker and microphone superior to using those built into the iPad)
- Camera Kit – £220.42 (provides a wide angle camera that improves the view of the classroom)
- Extended Warranty – £410 (3 years instead of the standard 1)
The charging dock is a useful extra but not essential. However, you should be aware that the iPad on the robot will not charge when the base is charged using the brick charger only – you will need to charge the iPad using a separate iPad charging cable. With the charging dock, the robot and iPad will charge at the same time.
In our experience, the robot can be laid down in small car with the back seat down. With additional cushioning the travel case can be avoided. If you do decide to buy one (£550) you could make do with one for multiple robots. You are only likely to need to move one at a time.
An iPad is essential for the robot but the pupil could use an existing iPad, iPhone or laptop to drive the robot. There is currently no Android app available from Double. Consider buying an iPad with Cellular capability as well as WiFi. Schools do not always have a full WiFi coverage.
AV1 – The Alternative Provision Innovation Fund Project
We have now joined this project being led by Northamptonshire Hospital and Outreach Education.
The AV1 is made by Norwegian company No Isolation.
AV1 provides one way video and two way audio communication. The use can choose from a selection of expressions to convey their emotional state and virtually raise their hand (a light flashes on the top of the robot). Set up is very easy with built in 4G mobile data and the option to connect to schools’ WiFi.
See the video below from No Isolation for an overview of AV1.
Missing School – Telepresence Robots – Australia
Newhart V, Warschause M and Sender L (2016) “Virtual Inclusion via Telepresence Robots in the Classroom: An Exploratory Case Study”, The International Journal of Technologies in Learning, 23(4), pp 9-25.
Soares N, Kay JC and Craven G (2017) “Mobile Robotic Telepresence Solutions for the Education of Hospitalized Children,” Perspectives in Health Information Management, 14 (Fall), p.1.
If you want advice on using a telepresence robot to support pupils with medical needs, contact James Shryane, Assistant Headteacher firstname.lastname@example.org
The TES judges said: “This gives a little bit more light to pupils with a long- term illness, including cancer and those who are terminally ill. It allows them to be with their friends and part of a school community.”
Shortlisted for the 2018 nasen awards
Here’s what the Creative Learning Guild judge said about the project:
“New technologies are an exciting way forward to ensure more opportunities for disabled children and young people to not only participate in the learning environment, but also to be involved in a whole myriad of extra curricular activities. These digital natives will certainly teach us older ones how to lead into a future that ensures inclusion at every level.” Awards Judge Canon Ruth Gould MBE, DL, FRSA