'Homebound' students are unable to attend school for health-related reasons. To lessen their predicament, schools have begun experimenting with 'telepresence robots' for remote participation.
Based on an interview study of stakeholders of the robot 'AV1' in Norway, I find that most users are highly positive about the robot's prospects for reconnecting them with their friends in school. However, I also find that school workers can be highly sceptical towards the robot, with some even refusing its use in their classroom. This raises the question of why someone might object to a technology for homebound children. In addressing this, I highlight the value of qualitative methods for unearthing multiple perspectives on innovations, and how failure to attend to these perspectives can entail a series of complications for those working to implement, scale-up and spread an innovation.
Lars Johannessen is a sociologist with research on professions, culture and micro interaction. He has done several ethnographic studies of health and social care, including a PhD on the relationship between discretion and standardization in the decision making of healthcare professionals. Johannessen has extensive experience with qualitative methods and analysis, and he is one of the authors behind the book "How to use theory: Useful tools in qualitative analysis". Johannessen is now working on a study of AV1 - a robot for children with long-term illness, which is meant to be the child's eyes, ears and voice in the classroom. Situated in cultural sociology and science and technology studies, the project explores the development, marketing, implementation and effects of the robot.
This talk was held as part of the Introduction and Research Methods for Translational Science module which is part of the MSc in Translational Health Sciences.