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Enhancing interactions and participation using AI-based technology in hospitalized children

Research project This project aims to research and develop AI-based technology (Artificial Intelligence) to help and support children suffering from long-term illness who stay in hospitals for longer treatment periods. This type of advanced technology can give them the opportunity to interact virtually with their classmates and teachers as well as get an opportunity to be virtually included in their everyday social school context despite long hospital stays.

Children suffering from long-term illness, such as cancer or severe heart problems, who are in hospital for long periods of treatment, often feel that they are isolated and have lost their school context. This affects their perceived quality of life which is very important for their recovery. This project thus, focus on the non-medical part of children suffering long-term illness and how they can interact virtually with the support of AI- based technology with their classmates and teachers to increase a sense of presence and inclusion even though they are not in school but in hospital.

Head of project

Eva Mårell-Olsson
Associate professor

Project overview

Project period:

2021-01-01 2022-12-31

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Education

Project description

In this project, we will first start by giving university students an opportunity to design and compete for the best innovative idea for how AI-based technology can help and support the needs of children suffering from long-term illness. Secondly, an application development will take place based on the university students' ideas in close collaboration with the consulting company CGI Cross Industries in Umeå.

Design-based research methods

With inspiration from action research and in combination with design-based research methods, the participants will in be able to test and give their views on the technical functionality to enable further development. During the project, we will collect data through observations during, for example, the competition for the best innovative idea and in the various tests of AI technology as well as interviews with participants. The idea of ​​the project is to be able to take a holistic approach, pedagogically as well as technically, with an exploratory research approach to adaptation and technology development.

Qualitative approach

Thus, a qualitative approach will characterize the project and to enable a further analysis such as describing and understanding both design processes and the value that participating informants experience regarding opportunities as well as challenges based on the research questions, the concept Value Creation (Wenger et al., 2011) will be used to capture results at different levels in the design and innovation processes. The project's knowledge contribution with the design of pedagogical guidelines for AI application development may be important for other individuals, adults as well as children, who for some reason must stay isolated.