AV1 robots serve as a stand-in for absent students in Linköping, Source: AV1/ Facebook

Linköping schools use avatar robots to curb absenteeism among students

Linköping schools use avatar robots to curb absenteeism among students

These can help extremely introverted pupils or students experiencing mental health challenges

Last year, the Swedish city of Linköping was awarded the European Capital of Innovation Awards (iCapital) for its commendable efforts to address social and sustainability changes by trying out creative ideas and development. Despite not being globally known as Stockholm or Gothenburg, this modest-sized city of 250,000 inhabitants became the first Swedish holder of the title thanks to its strong tradition of innovation and collaboration between the public sector, industry, academia and civil society.

Here's a great example of an innovative technology that has been applied for three years now in the Linköping primary schools as a way to curb a common problem there – absenteeism.

The municipality purchased and supplied the schools with AV1 robots to help students with problematic high-school absences, but also children and young people with physical illnesses or mental health difficulties.

The robots (seen in the pic) serve as a stand-in for the students allowing them to be present in the classroom, to observe the lesson and to communicate without having to leave their homes. This gives them the chance not to miss out and fall behind in their learning process while also dealing with the specific personal issues that prevent them from socializing.

There can be a downside, too

The AV1 robots thus work as avatars for the missing student. They are equipped with digital eye expressions controlled by the student to express his emotions and they light up in green when the student wants to ask a question or in blue when he or she is simply listening and watching.

Regarding concerns of privacy in the classroom, the feed provided by the robot cam to the student is encrypted and cannot be recorded nor can screenshots be taken on the student’s tablet.

However, the municipal schools in Linköping are careful not to turn these useful tools into crutches that only further social isolation for troubled students.

Before the use of a classroom robot is allowed, an absence investigation first takes place. The principal can then decide to permit the use of the robot for the student. The cross-functional AV1 team then makes an assessment as to whether it is a suitable solution. There are cases that have been rejected where the risk of the student wanting to stay at home has been assessed as too high. 



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