Mora kommun

Mora kommun

AV1 helps absent students return to school in Mora, Sweden

In the spring of 2020, the municipality of Mora chose to test a new tool in the fight against long-term absences from school. The interest was piqued a year earlier when the preschool and elementary school administration's digital school developers, together with colleagues in the school management, participated in an inspiring demonstration of the robot during a conference. Within the framework of the "Sustainable Mora" project, the municipality purchased four AV1 robots for use in the primary school. Today, they manage a total of seven robots that the schools can borrow when a student is at risk of being left behind.

Anders Karlsson, Digital School Developer for Mora, gives these tips and advice for municipalities that are considering buying in AV1:

  • The preparatory work to develop sustainable routines for the use, administration and handling of the robots is important. Get in touch with other municipalities that have already started to learn about their experiences and how they have organised the work.
  • Investigate the conditions for each intervention with the student and make a clear plan for the student's participation in the classroom, in order to adapt the work to make the teaching as accessible as possible.
  • Then follow up closely at the beginning of the effort to be able to adjust what is not working well.

Within two years of using AV1, the municipality received very positive responses from guardians and head teachers. In an interview with Sweden's Radio P4, Anna, ( a mother of a student with emotionally based school avoidance) says that her daughter has slowly started to find her way back to the classroom.

"The robot is very cool and has meant a lot. Now she has gotten into it so much and made so many friends that her wish now is to be able to endure more and be in the classroom instead, says Anna to SR P4."

Anders Karlsson works as a digital school developer in Mora and has had primary responsibility for the municipality's AV1 project. In the radio segment he says:

"It is an effect that is absolutely superb to see, that the robot attracts students back to the classroom. You shudder when you think of the difference it makes to a child. It's absolutely fantastic."

One of Anders' areas of responsibility has been to develop a system for how lending and information flow between administration and schools should work in practice. "In order for as many students as possible to receive help from AV1, it is important that administration and lending work smoothly", says Anders when we spoke to him. He says that they centrally use No Isolation's AV1 Admin portal to check if the robots are being used and get an overview of where they are.

To make it easier for the schools, the municipality has also developed its own portal in the learning tool "Loops" where teachers and other staff can find support material and information on how to go about borrowing a robot.

Central purchasing and distribution is recommended

As a relatively small municipality, taking the lead and trying new digital solutions is not a matter of course, and as always, every kroner invested needs to be justified. An AV1 costs SEK 29,000 to buy in, and SEK 8,000 per year to operate. How does one justify such an investment?

"It's a pretty small cost compared to having a teacher go to each student's home and teach, so it's definitely worth it. Home teaching works great for some students, but for others the quality of the teaching improves when they can participate via the robot."

Anders sees clear advantages in purchasing and administering the school robots centrally and points out that otherwise the schools not only need to find money in their own budget, but also spend resources on developing routines and working methods. A robot owned by an individual school is also at risk of ending up in a cupboard after the end of its service, as the school may not need the robot at the moment.

"By bringing in the robots centrally when an assignment is complete, we can streamline all these parts and ensure that they are used for a new student with needs. In addition, all schools receive support from us to get started, and since we are involved in all robot efforts, we can ensure that experiences are spread to all schools."

Success factors to succeed with AV1

Succeeding with AV1 in teaching requires several aspects to work. Anders says that before each decision about a robot intervention, they examine what the conditions look like for the student at school and at home:

"A good preparatory work on the conditions is done by the schools before the application for a robot is sent to us, which means that when we enter the picture, the foundation is already laid. The special education teacher is involved in the school during the preparatory work for a robot investment and is there to support the school regarding adaptations that can make teaching accessible to the student. The student health unit is the one who decides whether the application for a school robot is approved or not."

When the student has been assigned an AV1, the use is evaluated every two weeks to ensure that routines are found that work for the student in question. Regarding the students' attitude to AV1, Anders says that so far the reactions have only been positive and that the students quickly get used to the new element in the classroom. He says that it is rather the adults who may need some time to get used to the idea of ​​having a robot in the classroom.

Further work and tips for other municipalities

The rumour about Mora's AV1 project spread early in Dalarna, and in recent years the neighbouring municipalities of Orsa, Älvdalen and Gagnef have started testing or implementing the robot in their operations. During 2022, Mora and No Isolation's other partner municipalities will try new physical and digital collaboration forums to together become even better at helping vulnerable students back to the classroom.

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