This post is the second in a series of posts on the Festival of Social Sciences- Using Innovative Technologies in the Classroom event that took place in Birmingham on Thursday 8th November. You can view the first post here.
The COSPATIAL Project
The main emphasis of the COSPATIAL project is finding ways to adapt existing classroom technologies to engage children with autism in learning social skills. The project is being led by Dr Sarah Parsons of the University of Southampton and Dr Sue Cobb of the University of Nottingham. Thanks go to Dr Sarah Parsons for talking us through the project and although we did not get to see the project in action it was clear to see how the technology would be used with Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC) students.
The COSPATIAL project focuses on two types of technologies:
- Collaborative Virtual Environments
- Shared Active Surfaces
In this post I am going to concentrate on the Collaborative Virtual Environments. These allow multiple users to interact and communicate within a shared virtual space. They do this by accessing the space on individual laptops that are in the same room. There are 3 different programs that the students can use each working on different elements of social interaction from communication to working together to complete a task.
Talk2U – students communicate with the support of the teacher to help explain social conversation. The students press the the buttons on screen to communicate with each other and this can be on a variety of different topics.
Block Challenge – the students work together to build a tower of blocks. The students have to communicate with each other to complete the task. Again this task looks to promote skills that students on the Autistic Spectrum tend to need support with.
Face2Face – Students communicate in a shared environment using video avatars. The space is flexible and can be adapted for different users and activities.
I felt that this project is really interesting as it allowed students with ASC to work in an environment that enables them to communicate and collaborate through a safe and comfortable medium. The idea of the project is to give the students a space to practice these skills before moving them onto to real-life interactions which can be extremely daunting for students with ASC.
What I also like about this was that they are using existing technology and the application can run on a variety of machines. Unlike some high-tech solutions on the market this application would benefit many school running on a limited budget.
The COSPATIAL Project – http://cospatial.fbk.eu/
The SHAPE Project, technologies to enhance learning for young people in the Autism Spectrum – http://opensen.wordpress.com/2012/11/10/shape-project-the-future-landscape-of-technologies-assisting-young-people-with-autistic-spectrum-condition/
Next Post – Echoes Project