Beaming children where they cannot go: telepresence robots and inclusive education: an exploratory study

Sheehy, Kieron and Green, Ashley A. (2011). Beaming children where they cannot go: telepresence robots and inclusive education: an exploratory study. Ubiquitous Learning: an international journal, 3(1) pp. 135–146.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/1835-9795/cgp/v03i01/40261

URL: http://ijq.cgpublisher.com/product/pub.186/prod.10...

Abstract

Despite a succession of inclusive education policies, the proportion of pupils within segregated provision remains relatively unchanged with the United Kingdom. During the same period of time, communications technologies have created new avenues for social interactions and removed barriers to communication between young people.  Mitra (2009) proposed mobile robotics as a way teachers might overcome geographical and social barriers. This paper considers the affordances provided by mobile robots for developing inclusive educational practices. It reports on a small study that utilizes ‘off the shelf’ Rovio and  Spykee telepresence robots to allow groups of  children to see into each others school worlds. Children were engaged by using robots in this way, the robots could be used by children including those with severe learning difficulties and the robots created a bridge between mainstream and special schools classrooms, allowing children to ‘visit’ each other and explore each others classrooms. The results of this study suggest that currently the technology is not robust enough for everyday use in this way but presents an interesting option for those seeking to explore ways in which children who are physically segregated might visit one another’s educational worlds. It also raises the issue of whether such approaches undermine the creation of  ‘real world’ inclusive education or might act to recreate the nature of inclusion.

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