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Robots in special education: reasons for low uptake

Maria Jose Galvez Trigo (Mixed Reality Laboratory, School of Computer Science, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)
Penelope Jane Standen (Division of Rehabilitation and Ageing, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)
Sue Valerie Gray Cobb (Human Factors Research Group, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)

Journal of Enabling Technologies

ISSN: 2398-6263

Article publication date: 11 July 2019

Issue publication date: 19 August 2019




The purpose of this paper is to identify the main reasons for low uptake of robots in special education (SE), obtained from an analysis of previous studies that used robots in the area, and from interviewing SE teachers about the topic.


An analysis of 18 studies that used robots in SE was performed, and the conclusions were complemented and compared with the feedback from interviewing 13 SE teachers from Spain and the UK about the reasons they believed caused the low uptake of robots in SE classrooms.


Five main reasons why SE schools do not normally use robots in their classrooms were identified: the inability to acquire the system due to its price or availability; its difficulty of use; the low range of activities offered; the limited ways of interaction offered; and the inability to use different robots with the same software.


Previous studies focussed on exploring the advantages of using robots to help children with autism spectrum conditions and learning disabilities. This study takes a step further and looks into the reasons why, despite the benefits shown, robots are rarely used in real-life settings after the relevant study ends. The authors also present a potential solution to the issues found: involving end users in the design and development of new systems using a user-centred design approach for all the components, including methods of interaction, learning activities and the most suitable type of robots.



The authors would like to thank the teachers that volunteered to participate in the interviews.


Galvez Trigo, M.J., Standen, P.J. and Cobb, S.V.G. (2019), "Robots in special education: reasons for low uptake", Journal of Enabling Technologies, Vol. 13 No. 2, pp. 59-69.



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Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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