Running from 2019 to 2022, this two-year project developed, disseminated, and assessed an Immersive Virtual Reality (IVR) educational tool for teaching students on the autism spectrum and learning difficulties how to ‘learn to learn’. It incorporated all the necessary elements of an Individual Work System (IWS), together with the powerful supports provided by means of virtual reality. This project was funded by the European Commission’s Erasmus+ Programme.
The Immersive Virtual Reality as a Tool for Autistic Pupils and Teachers project (IVRAP) is based on the combination of one of the most extended models of autism intervention on education (named Individual Work System – IWS) with the power of Immersive Virtual Reality (IVR) and Hand-Tracking sensors to manipulated virtual environments.
IWS is one of the most extended best practices in autism intervention, and it is part of the TEACCH Programme. IWS allows autistic students to work independently and, more importantly, creates a context where they learn to learn another skills. IWSs have been proved effective by a number of scientific studies (i.e. Hume et al, 2007; Bennett et al, 2011; Hume et al 2012) and IVR has the potential of significantly improving the results of the conventional version of those systems (Herrera et al., in preparation) and to enormously facilitate the transfer of these methods to regions where access to autism knowledge and methodologies is limited.
In the framework of the Spanish funded project FORHSSTEA, a prototype of a Virtual Reality based on Individual Work System has been developed and successfully tested by some IVRAP partners back in 2017. The objective of the IVRAP project was to further develop this technology and make it available to be used for free by any student on the autism spectrum or with intellectual disabilities.
IVRAP also conducted a research with a larger sample of students in order to scientifically validate the IVR-IWS, and produced both a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Virtual Reality and Autism and Policy Recommendations related to the assessment of an IVR learning toolkit.
A multi-sectoral team of nine partners has been built for the IVRAP project, including researchers from the two participating universities from Spain, and the United Kingdom (project coordinator the Universitat de València, and the University of the West of England, Bristol); teachers and autistic people and their families from the four schools involved from Spain, the United Kingdom, and Turkey (Adapta Foundation and Koynos Cooperative, Cambian Group, and the Sobe Foundation), and the Spanish autism association Autismo Ávila; two training institutions from the two regional governments in Spain and Turkey (CEFIRE and Konya İl MEM), and the European organisation Autism-Europe (Belgium).
The IVRAP produced a study with the aim of verifying that the software created in the project in its version, used in Oculus glasses Quest 2, is a safe, viable and usable tool.
About the Erasmus+ Programme
Erasmus+ is the EU’s programme to support education, training, youth and sport in Europe. Its budget of €14.7 billion will provide opportunities for over 4 million Europeans to study, train, gain experience, and volunteer abroad.