Aims and objectives
The Immersive Virtual Reality as a Tool for Autistic Pupils and Teachers (IVRAP) answers to the general objectives of the Erasmus + Programme, and aims to create an Immersive Virtual Reality educational toolkit for teaching students on the autism spectrum and learning difficulties how to 'learn to learn'. The project is addressed to young people with autism so they can strengthen their ability to work independently.
It is estimated that 32-50% of individuals with autism also have intellectual disability/learning difficulties. Students with autism progress much better when specific educational supports are provided. Visual supports for both receptive communication (daily agendas, individual work-systems, tasks panels, tasks structures, etc.) and expressive communication (alternative communications systems based on picture-exchange to communicate what they need, and to share ideas with others) are examples of autism-specific supports that have evidence for their effectiveness.
The IVRAP project is based on the combination of one of the most extended models of autism intervention on education (named Individual Work System) with the power of Immersive Virtual Reality (IVR) and Hand-Tracking sensors to manipulate virtual environments. The individual work system is defined as a visually organized space where children practice acquired skills. A work system visually communicates at least four pieces of information to the student including (1) the tasks the student is supposed to do, (2) how much work there is to be completed, (3) how the student knows they are finished, and (4) what to do when they are finished (or‘‘what’s next’’). The work system provides a structured opportunity for students to practise skills deliberately and independently. Individual work systems may also promote students’ generalization of skills across settings.
Immersive Virtual Reality has the potential of transferring and generalizing knowledge very rapidly, not only from the point of view of students with autism, but also from the point of view of teacher training. It can particularly help those geographical areas were access to qualified autism intervention training is very limited. With a Virtual Reality environment, many elements of an autism intervention can be easily incorporated into the daily practice of a teacher who now will also have a powerful tool to boost learning of students with autism and intellectual disability. The IVRAP project aims to further develop the virtual reality software and make a toolkit widely available for education professionals.
IVRAP will address aspects of social inclusion throughout its duration. The main idea of the project is to provide autistic students with tools and resources which will help them progress in their education. Thus, IVRAP aims to:
Enhance the access, participation and learning performance of disadvantaged learners, reducing disparities in learning outcomes.
Support and assess new approaches to reducing disparities in access to and engagement with digital technologies in formal and non-formal education. The project aims to improve students learning of STEM-related skills through the Immersive Virtual Reality toolkit.
Raise awareness in different countries, especially in Spain, Belgium, Turkey and UK, by creating resources such as a MOOC to enhance transversal competencies and develop practices to improve learning for people on the autism spectrum.
VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND TRAINING (VE)
Concerning the specific field in vocational education and training, priority will be given to:
Supporting individuals in acquiring and developing basic skills and key competences.
Increasing access to affordable and high quality early childhood education and care.