Ohmni Telepresence Robot Plays Key Role in Child's Education
Education is a vital part in a child's experience for growth. The inability to be physically present can mean missing out on learning and social connection.
The following article shows how Ohmni telepresence robots are being used via MissingSchool's See-be robot service to bridge the gap and give connection and presence for Australian students who can't attend school due to serious illness or injury. Robots4Good is proud to be partnered with MissingSchool.
ROBOT PLAYS KEY ROLE IN SAM FARNSWORTH’S EDUCATION
Thirteen year old Sam Farnsworth is the first secondary school student in Victoria to be accessing his education using robot technology.
When Sam was eleven years old his life changed in an instant. In February 2019 his mother, Lisa, Sam and his twin brother Luke, were involved in a serious car accident, an accident that changed life for the Farnsworth family forever. Lisa has regained her mobility but still requires regular physiotherapy. Luke, not so badly injured, is fine now. But after five operations at the Royal Children’s Hospital Sam is medically a quadriplegic.
Sam is now a student at Dromana College but works from his home. The injuries he sustained in the accident prevent him from being able to speak or use his body to do things like hold a pen, get his books and papers, type, move his posture and act in other ways that students generally do as they go about their day at school.
Justine Lucas, Mental Health Practitioner at Dromana College, describes how technology is making education possible for Sam.
“Dromana College is committed to deliver a quality education to all their students. We are fortunate to have such a caring community that will always support our students both in and outside the classroom. One of our valued students Sam, has been able to access his classrooms via a robot named Martine. Martine is a telepresence robot that our Parents and Friends Association supported. See-Be, is the Missing School robot service solving social isolation by helping kids with serious illness or injury to stay connected to their schools. Over 70,000 students like Sam miss school often, or for long periods, and schools like Dromana College are working to bridge the gap.
Sam uses his eye movements to operate his computer through assistive Tobi eye gaze technology. Martine, Tobi and the computer technologies work together so that Sam is present in classes via a video and can move Martine about the classroom.
All of this means that Sam is now able to be virtually in class with his classmates and teaching staff. This social inclusion is an important aspect of a child’s life and engagement in learning. He is participating in the key learning subjects of Math and English through his assistive technologies and with the support of his carers, teachers and teacher aides. By using the technologies, Sam can be at home or hospital with the health care he vitally needs and still interact with his school in real time and personally.
One obstacle we encountered, was the need for a powerful and constant internet service to operate all the technologies. In Sam’s area, the internet signals are variable and often so low that the video streams were adversely affected. We appreciate Red Hill Lions for supporting us and the family to improve the internet access at Sam’s home. The technology is critical, yet it’s the people power behind the scenes, so to speak, that truly enables students with disabilities to continue their education. Sam is incredible in his mental strength and determination”.
Of course, Sam’s health needs are significant and require 24/7 care. Between 7am and 9pm outside carers
“We have had wonderful support and understanding from the local community, the doctors at the Royal Children’s Hospital have been marvellous and now his teachers at Dromana College are doing a wonderful job with their sensitive approach to Sam’s learning needs. It gives us a reason to be more optimistic that despite his physical limitations he will have opportunities to progress in life,” Lisa said. - RB.
A leading provider of robots as a service, Robots4Good is the exclusive supplier of OhmniLabs robots and services in Australia and New Zealand for business, manufacturing, schools, hospitals, disability and aged care settings.