Sick children to attend lessons via robots in classrooms

Those children who suffer with illness over the longer term will be able to attend lessons while undergoing their hospital treatment under a new government-funded trial.

The AVI telepresence robots have been designed to support children in keeping up with lessons over a long absence from school due to illness.

The robots will be present in a classroom and stream live video and audio back to the children’s smartphone or tablet in hospital.

The children will also have the ability to communicate with the teaching staff and their classmates too by speaking through the robot.

The Department of Education is going to fund 90 robots, including 10 for those children being treated at Great Ormond Street Hospital to the tune of £500,000. The robots will be supporting children suffering with cancer, ME and mental health issues.

Karen Dolva, chief executive of the Norweigian start-up No Isolation which created the robots, said: “Seeing our product used to improve education for children and young adults cannot be expressed in words.”

I would argue that NOTHING can replace the face-to-face interaction between a trained teacher and a pupil, especially if the child is unwell. Where is the emotional intelligence here? How will a robot be able to check on how the child is feeling and whether they are able to fully understand what is happening? I would say that the money would be better spent on specialist teachers who are trained to go and visit these children face-to-face and support them on a regular basis.

What do you think? If your child was unwell over the longer term would you want their education to be supported by a robot or a face-to-face teacher?


Elisa x