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Special educational needs

The sen project aims at developing a new generation of pedagogic tools for children with special educational needs (sen), exploring the use of immersive and virtual reality technologies, associated with mobile tools and clinical procedures.

The SEN project is a R&D project in the scientific areas of information technology, medical sciences and social sciences, aimed at the design of technology for the development of educational tools for children with special needs, and the provision of new services in the social-health areas. In this context it incorporates augmented reality tools with information systems and mobile technology, with clinical knowledge and methodologies. In most European countries the legislative framework foresees education specialized support for pupils identified as having permanent Special Educational Needs based on the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) [1]. ICF envisages the pursuit of the following objectives regarding the functionalities to be achieve by these children with special needs, in order to maximize the levels of activity and social participation: strengthening an inclusive school model; assign certification of skills for children and young people with SEN, for their future integration into the labor market; reinforcing the need to increase the level of activity and participation, despite the limitations of students with SEN. In this context, the selection of activities for curriculum development is essential, and for many authors one of the most important aspects, has it should address to different operational strategies of the teacher and the consequent theoretical framework. Zabalza [3] states that "any activity can be analyzed from the perspective of its validity (congruence regarding the objectives, if the desired aim is achieved), meaning (if the activity itself is really relevant, if it is worth to do what the activity implies) and functionality (if it is feasible from the perspective of the situation or conditions that must be performed and compatible with the other components of the educational process)". As regarded by Landivar [4], “with the development of evolutionary psychology it was found that a child learns best by doing, but in the case of children with difficulties it seems that we can say that s/he «only learns by doing»”. Thus, under this project the consortium intends to address the education needs of children and young people with one of the following disabilities: trisomy 21 (Down syndrome); autism spectrum; mild or moderate intellectual disability (mental impairment). Typically, this group of disabilities leads to cognitive deficiencies and attention deficits. It is the consortium’s intention to evaluate and address the evolution of perceptual areas, motor, verbal, other cognitive areas, and affection-social areas. At this point the consortium has identified and established cooperation agreements with institutions, and clinical and educational staff, working with children with special educational needs from the school clusters Diogo Cão (Vila Real, Portugal) and João de Araújo Correia (Peso da Régua, Portugal). Other partners to be approach include the Portuguese nonprofit association “Differences” that supports children with this type of needs, and also provides support to their families. The choice for this group of disabilities is justified by the following reasons. Children with trisomy 21 are usually very communicative, facilitating the “communication” aspects and the “try to understand the whys” by the research and development team. On the other side, one of the very pronounced characteristic features in children classifiable as belonging to the autism spectrum group is precisely the difficulty of communicating with other humans (e.g., teacher, colleagues). In this case, the literature seems to predict that these children and young people can greatly benefit from a learning space where interaction with other humans is reduced to a minimum. The group is completed by integrating children with mild or moderate intellectual disability, providing us a range of issues that will help us better understand how these children interact with the world and which technologies and interfaces best suit their needs. Thus, in this context, the project aims at developing and integrating a set of intelligent tools to support specialized education that will: i) Develop, implement and test an immersive, contextualized and controlled learning environment; ii) Develop, implement and test an algorithm capable of “learning” the profile of each user/child, based on its responses, its mistakes, right answers, response time, number of tries, rate/percent of execution, etc.; iii) Develop, implement and test a sensory component that will allow inferring the degree of concentration and involvement of the user/child, based on its facial expressions, eye movements, drowsiness, etc. iv) Develop, implement and test accessible contents, specially adjusted to the disabilities profiles listed above; v) Integrate and develop interfaces, both immersive and mobile (2D smartphones, tablets, etc.) suitable for the profile of the child’s disability mentioned above. References:
Acronym: 
SEN
Project ID: 
10 736
Start date: 
24-06-2016
Project Duration: 
33months
Project costs: 
410 000.00€
Technological Area: 
ELECTRONICS, IT AND TELECOMS TECHNOLOGY
Market Area: 

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.