can vr change empathy towards others? Stanford University project thinks just that
By Terry Miller
Have you ever had a virtual field trip? How about a vacation or exploring the world under the ocean…all from the comfort (somewhat) from your virtual reality head set in the well-being of your home?
Well, officials at AUSD sponsored a VR – Virtual Reality – demonstration and training last Friday afternoon at the Arcadia Unified School District. A leading expert in the field of virtual reality from Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab which specializes in Virtual Reality, Elise Ogle, led the demonstration which introduced 20-30 students, teachers, and staff into this remarkable world of virtual reality and all its promises.
What was seen and experienced through the VR headset was be displayed on a large projector for the audience to experience what the subject was undergoing.
But just what is VR (Virtual Reality) and what can it do for you? No, it’s not ‘Real Housewives’ Reality TV show. It’s actually a awe-inspiring educational tool that academics are paying more and more attention to with the development of excellent software and hardware that enhances the experience and continues to challenge academics and hobbyists alike.
Early research suggests that Virtual Reality can help students be more engagement in class, understand concepts better, experience greater empathy, improve motivation, and help with concentration and overall academic performance.
Students are able to experience virtual field trips to anywhere in the world which gives them a much better understanding of geography and cultural lessons.
Virtual reality has been used in the military and medical field for years for dangerous and expensive training simulations
Widespread use of VR in schools is not expected for a few more years, but Arcadia Unified is already seeing some teachers use it, and just purchased a very high-level HTC Vive which teachers and students can now use.
Some studies suggest possible benefits for special education students who have difficulties concentrating in class or who may have behavior issues.
VR allows students to get a realistic view and sensation of a hurricane or see how blood flows through the body.
Arcadia Unified has a unique position on staff, a Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, Greg Gazanian, who explores the next innovative technologies that students may benefit from, like VR, and helps implement them and train early adopter teachers and staff.
Stanford researcher and VR Project Manager Elise Ogle graduated from Stanford with her Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in Communication. Her VHIL research focuses on using VR to change empathy towards others, as well as to design immersive, educational narratives that increase pro-environmental and pro-social attitudes and behaviors. Her lab work involves managing projects and development, designing VR simulations, and 3D modeling