What Are Telepresence Robots And How They Change Education System: More Than Just Robots

There’s so much new research being published on education for students with medical/mental health conditions. We are always gaining new insights into how to support sick kids to stay connected to their classrooms.

One interesting paper, written by Lars Johannessen et. al.*, which came out in late 2022, showcases a critical insight from a trial run of telepresence robots in Norway.

In the study, the parent participants were able to borrow a robot – the AV1 – for free from the Gjensidigje Foundation to help keep their sick kids connected to school. For some students, this was incredibly helpful to let them follow along with lessons, reduce loneliness, and keep them in touch without tiring them out.



But for many, even having a free robot was not enough. There was still a need to get the school on board with adopting the robot.

During the process of engaging with the regular school, parent participants found that some teachers were uncertain about how to implement the technology in the classroom, and often the school administration required convincing. There was significant liaison needed to make it all work.

The paper observed that the task of engaging schools “… usually fell on one of the homebound children’s guardians, who at times found this to be a daunting prospect, especially if lacking in support”.

In other words, the researchers found that telepresence robots worked the best only if they had holistic support from everyone involved in the treatment, especially schools and hospitals.

MissingSchool’s evidence consistently backs the conclusions drawn from this research. Our Seen&Heard Helpline liaises daily during school hours with parents/carers, school leaders and teachers, and health practitioners to see that school technology activations for sick and absent kids are as successful as can be.

As we are often the first point of contact for school technology connections in this context, our goal is to reduce the management burden experienced by families in already complex and challenging circumstances. We find that this supports teachers, too.

MissingSchool’s data shows that across the last quarter of 2022, our Helpline engaged in 1,870 interactions with families and schools, via phone, messaging, inbound web enquiries and email.

Gaps in support services for continuing education for sick kids in Australia will be addressed by expanding our technology support, and by adding family forums, student-peer engagement, teacher professional networks and training, health specialists’/organisations’ expertise, and data and research releases.

We stand firm on the eve of launching our Seen&Heard Initiative, which mobilises our march to school support to sick kids becoming business as usual, so every sick kid has the tools they need to flourish.

While technology services unlock amazing potential, they can only work alongside people like you, leading the charge.

There are many ways to help:

Every action moves us closer to the finish line: a world where every sick child is seen and heard.

Let’s keep connecting.

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