Be PART of it!

Be PART of it! - Participatory Research on a Telepresence System and its impact on social inclusion in schools

Children and adolescents with chronic illnesses are at risk of losing touch with their peers: their sense of belonging is reduced. It is well known that this can have serious consequences - social isolation, declining academic performance, frequent class repetitions, lower educational attainment, and higher rates of mental illness.
 
Telepresence systems can help alleviate these issues. With technological aids for social
inclusion in schools, such as the Avatar AV1, those affected experience a sense of belonging
again. They can participate in social events even during prolonged physical absences from
school.

The goal of this project is to give children and adolescents with and without chronic illness the
opportunity to take a leading role in the research of this new method. They will work with an
interdisciplinary project team (psychology, education, technology, educational science) to
explore the use of the Avatar and its impact on social inclusion and sense of belonging.

Healthy students join in as Co-researchers, Patient Advisors (former users of the AV1, children and adolescents with chronic illnesses) and Patient Experts (e.g., scientifically trained
survivors of a chronic illness) will be consulted in an advising function. Teachers from the
partner school TGM will lead the monitoring and reflection meetings as practice partners
together with the interdisciplinary project team.

After jointly generating the research question, the Co-researchers are trained in scientific and
technical methods. In addition to collecting data on the sense of belonging, the project envisions the development of an app to accompany the use of the Avatar. How this app will be
designed, what it can do and what information will be collected is still open. After all, Coresearchers know best how to think and act at this age.

The research process will culminate in the development of the app and other guidelines as
well as concepts that can be used in the future for the use of Avatars with children and
adolescents with chronic illnesses. The participatory approach is intended to ensure that
children with chronic illnesses feel part of the school community, teachers know how to use
technical aids such as Avatars, and classmates experience participation.
 
(Photocredit © Estera K. Johnsrud)