Munio Partnership for Secondary Education

Munio Partnership for Secondary Education

Interview with Munio Partnership, The Netherlands, about how their long-term ill students use AV1

3 AV1s help Munio support students with long-term illness. We interviewed Kees van Willigen, supervisor for long-term ill students, about his experience.

How many AV1 robots/avatars do you have? And do you use them for students with medical needs or mental health?

We have 3 avatars in use. So far we mainly use them for students with somatic issues. But in the near future we plan to try them with emotionally based school avoiders.

How long have the students been absent from school due to illness?

The absence of the students from school differs. We use AV1 for short but also longer periods of of illness. Sometimes we also use the AV1 when a child, for example, can only go to school for 3 days a week, and for the other 2 days must stay at home.

What did the education solution look like before the AV1 was used?

Distance learning tools are complicated. Children can work at home, but there is little or no explanation of all subjects. You are then highly dependent on the effort and willingness of the teachers, and this inevitably led to a backlog.

What do you think is a big advantage of using AV1?

Using AV1 ensures that students keep up with lessons, and that they feel they are still part of the class.

What role does education play for the students during their illness or therapy?

Education remains for the sick student sometimes a great distraction from their “being sick”, and they can keep up with other school activities.

How does the collaboration work between you and the school where the AV1 is used? Do you get resistance from teachers, or enthusiasm?

The collaboration mainly takes place via mentors. Children switch the AV1 on in the mornings in the classroom, and teachers teach their regular class. I don't get any resistance. It is seen as a pleasant addition for the sick student without much extra effort for the teacher.

How much work is the implementation of the AV1 and the introduction with contact person at the school?

The first 3 AV1s we rented on a trial basis. Because of my enthusiasm we quickly switched to purchasing. The implementation at school always progresses very smoothly, there is no need for technical installation to be adjusted which makes it very pleasant to use the AV1, even for shorter periods.

What do you think is the biggest added value of the school robot for the children and young people who love to use them?

Using the robot certainly helps very seriously ill children, just for the moments of feeling of being normal.

What do you think are the biggest risks when students are not able to attend school for long periods of time?

Children with school avoidance behaviour may get the idea that they don't have to go to school That's why I always agree that the avatar should only temporarily be used.

How important do you consider the class and the interaction with it for children's development?

Children need to be in a social environment when growing up, school visits mean that social “agreements” later in life are understood.

Is there also contact outside of class (break or in between classes) with friends thanks to the AV1?

Sometimes students take the avatar out during break times to a hall where they sit in groups. Again, that is very nice for the student at home but the background noise can sometimes be difficult for the sick pupil.

Where do you see strengths/weaknesses in using the avatar? Is something wrong that we can improve on AV1?

Despite all the technology, sometimes the system fails due to poor WiFi which can cause enormous frustration. A strong connection is a prerequisite for AV1s success.

Would you recommend the same approach to others regarding the introduction of AV1 and why?

I would recommend it to other supervisors, definitely recommend to sick students. It may also be a tool for students who are absent for reasons other than sickness, and on the way to emotionally based school avoidance.

Are there any interesting figures or results from using AV1 that you would like to emphasise?

I have no objective data but know that the AV1 is always helpful and supportive.
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