Using the Sony Playstation Portable (PsP) for context-based learning

Project report
Published on 14 Apr 2014


KEY Community Supports operates throughout Scotland to provide support for people with disabilities. KEY had approached Iriss for suggestions about how they might deliver training and advice to its support workers at the point where support is delivered.

Building on an idea from SSSC Mobile learning in the workplace to use the video capabilities of the Sony Playstation Portable (PSP) to take learning and knowledge as close as possible to the point of implementation, we set outto test it with two groups:

  1. people who KEY supports in their own home
  2. support workers

KEY identified three settings in which the PSP might be useful:

  1. Helping The Advisory Group (TAG) members participate in business functions such as committee meetings.
  2. Provide support with personal and contextual information about safe moving and assisting for a person KEY supports.
  3. Supporting two men with autism who share a house by offering reminders of how and when to do certain tasks (eg shaving) with the aim of promoting their independence.

Setting 1. The Advisory Group (TAG)

Two members of TAG are full members of KEY's management committee. Given the nature of organisational governance, the committee papers can be complex, even with an accessible summary, so the Inclusion Manager spends time going through the papers with the individuals immediately before each meeting.

We wanted to find a way of helping members think about and understand the papers in their own timeandthereby improve their ability to participate. Theidea was to place a marker code at the top of each summary page. The marker code would trigger the PSP to play a video summary recorded by the Inclusion Manager. Markers could also be placed beside difficult words or legal terms (which didn't lend themselves to simplification) in order to improve literacy and understanding.

While the concept was sound there were logistical difficulties. Committee papers are prepared about two weeks in advance of the meeting and it proved impractical to create and distribute the video summaries in that time.

There was also a feeling that face-to-face discussion was probably a more effective way of explaining nuances or trying different ways of explaining concepts.

KEY also considered its use for generic training about how meetings work and for guidance or training in other repetitive tasks. More work is required to test the potential of video to help people to prepare for speaking at or engaging with a meeting or event.

Setting 2. Use of tracking hoist

Jim is 22 years of age and has significant moving and assisting requirements. KEY support staff operate a ceiling mounted tracking hoist to transfer Jim from his bed to wheelchair, to shower chair, and to and from the bath. Fitting the sling requires a particular technique which could be difficult for support staff who hadn't used it for a while.

While all support staff are trained in moving and assisting, the PSP offers a refresher video on how to operate Jim's hoist. Pointing the PSP at the marker code affixed to the hoist triggers the video.

An additional benefit is that the video shows not just a hoist, it shows Jim's hoist, which fits well with KEY's policy of delivering training as close as possible to individuals in the their own home, using its own small team.

Being aware of how Jim reacts to certain moves and being able to actually hear how he reacts can take some of the anxiety out of workers, especially people new to supporting Jim - Sandy Marshall (Health and Safety Training Officer)

Jim doesn't speak and the meaning of his vocalisation may not be obvious to someone unfamiliar with his communication style. Being able to see and hear Jim using his hoist helps the support worker understand if Jim is happy or if there might be a problem.

Previously KEY might have produced a picture gallery showing the various stages of the operation, but a video of the actual process with the actual person can be much more effective. Words in an instruction manual can be misconstrued or misunderstood. In fact, Health and Safety Training Officer, Sandy, is dyslexic and finds watching a video a better way to learn.

The thing that really struck me was how personalised this can make training and guidance. It's Jim demonstrating exactly how Jim is supported with his moving and handling in different parts of the house using different parts of his equipment, and that, to me, takes that kind of guidance and training for staff to a whole new personalised level that you could never really achieve in the training room - Alistair Welsh (Personalisation, Policy and Quality Manager)

Making the video

Making a video film in someone's house could be intrusive, so KEY decided to use a smart phone. After trying a few they decided that the iPhone 5 offered the best results because they were able to alter the lighting settings. 'My Movie' software was used to edit the video and, with some backup from KEY's IT department, they were able to create the video quite easily.

KEY learned that the most important part of making a useful video is storyboarding, the process of planning the 'story' in a way that ensures the resulting film is clear and understandable. Some thought has to go into positioning the camera to get the best angle and KEY discovered that, like making a film in Holywood, a number of takes is often required to get the best result. The important lesson, however, is that it is possible with everyday tools to make a video that is good enough.

Getting the video onto the PSP

Second Sight is the software that generates the markers and associates each marker with a specific video film. These markers are placed either in the physical environment (eg Jim's hoist) or in instruction manuals so that they will trigger video to play in context. KEY found this process quite straightforward. Here is a demonstration of how Second Sight works on a PSP.

Setting 3. Promoting independence for two men with autism

Community Lifestyles, a subsidiary organisation and part of the KEY Group, considered using the PSP to help two young men with autism who share a home and were supported 24/7 by a small team of workers. Although both could manage most day-to-day living tasks, they did require prompting with regards to personal care and household tasks.Both men aim to become more independent within their own home and are also interested in computers and new technology.

Initially the idea had been to create video prompts for a number of tasks such as brushing teeth, washing hair etc. It was also thought that the PSP could provide help with food preparation and using the microwave. After discussion and experimentation both decided they would rather not participate.

The idea was also mooted with two brothers, one of whom has epilepsy. The proposal was that the other brother might find this a helpful reminder of what to do when the first brother experienced a seizure while out and about in the community. Again, both decided they would rather not.

Lessons learned and future plans

We learned that sometimes it can be difficult for the people KEY supports to understand or make the connection to how this technology might help them become more independent or make a difference to routine daily living. This was a reminder that technology of itself does not necessarily deliver the solution.

Undaunted, KEY still see potential of the PSP as ahelpful way of personalising care and support. One idea isto show support workers how to prepare complex medication when the primary carer is taking a short break or respite. The video would be personalised, ie showing the primary carer himself making up and administering his wife's medication.

A final example involves a man with muscular dystrophy, who has a series of exercises which has already been filmed by his physiotherapist. In the film, the man talks about what he's doing and why. KEY plan to copy the film onto the PSP as a better option than burning it onto DVD.

As a training tool it's very effective ... there's very clear advantages - Alistair Welsh

KEY also see potential in breaking down support plans, outcome-based plans and person-centred plans into themes or sections using the marker codes. Individuals might talk through their support plan, either using the PSP or devices they already own and use, eg smart phone or tablet. The PSP is, after all, only one way of delivering video.

Actually a video could run and that could be the person themselves saying when you are supporting them you need to do this, this is the way I really need you to do it, so it could be really engaging and involving for the person they support - Sandy Marshall

KEY produces pamphlets on topics such aswhat to expect from KEY or howhow to make a complaint. This informationmight be more engaging on video. The PSP could be loaned to new clients, like a lending library of videos.

KEY has learned that inexpensive instructional videos that are personalised to specific clients and situations can play an important part in providingpersonalisedcare and support.

It has prompted us to think very differently, and definitely see something new and additional to how we currently help, prompt or advise either the people we support or the staff that are supporting them. And it feels like a bit of a starting point in the use of this kind of technology ... Alistair Welsh

Iriss will be following up with interest KEY's progress with this initiative.