Zoe (16) is currently studying towards her GCSE exams. Due to her ME she’s missed a lot of school time. We spoke with Zoe and her family about how telepresence robot, AV1, developed specifically to enable pupils to participate in class lessons remotely, has helped her.
Can you tell us about how ME affects Zoe?
Zoe has had ME since 2014. Symptoms fluctuate but are always present and get so much worse after any physical or cognitive effort. So all her energy use has to be carefully planned and managed. She hasn’t attended school at all since the start of year 9 after 18 months dwindling part-time attendance.
Nevertheless, Zoe is working towards fi ve GCSEs alone at home with one-to-one online tuition. She manages a maximum of one hour a day of learning.
Zoe has affectionately named her AV1 ‘ZoBot’…
ZoBot has changed Zoe’s life! It has put her back in contact with her school friends again and saved the day academically.
We would love to see these little AV1 robots becoming more mainstream and helping children like Zoe to keep in contact with education and friends but without wasting the precious energy they have on getting dressed, travelling to school, walking around school, general conversation and so on. We worked out that going to school for a one hour lesson used three and a half hours of ‘energy’; learning via AV1 allows time for resting and recovery, as well as education.
What do Zoe’s friends think of AV1?
Zoe’s friends all seem perfectly comfortable with the AV1 and are happy to be back in contact with Zoe again.
Zoe’s school is also very supportive. Zoe’s history teacher is excited about having Zoe back in the class again and immediately offered to use AV1 for one-to-one catch-up lessons. The school was happy to include AV1 in more lessons with the class (which meant another teacher learning to use it). The experience has been very positive.
Without AV1 she would probably have had to defer or drop history, which is her favourite subject and the one she wants to continue to A-level. Plus she and her school friends are now in contact again, which is lovely.
This amazing little robot has given her the opportunity to go to sixth form and do A-levels with her friends, even if she can’t attend school at all. It has opened up a whole world of possibilities.
AV1 enables the student to see, hear and even talk in class. The student signals that they want to speak by instructing the top of the AV1’s head to blink and the robot turns 360° so that they can see and speak to all of their classmates. There are currently more than 400 AV1 telepresence robots in use across Europe.