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Jun 30 2019 - 08:00pm
Teaching Empathy With Virtual Reality

Can virtual reality enhance students’ empathy and cultural fluency? Some classrooms have started using VR as a way to foster Social and Emotional Learning. Chris Caldwell, for example, uses VR to immerse his students in scenes from books they are reading, such as the play Anne Frank. An affluent school in Hawaii gives students a VR experience of what it’s like to be homeless. At Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, researchers are studying how VR can be used to fight prejudices such as racism.

While virtual reality offers a novel approach to teaching empathy and perspective-taking, do you think it is the best way to foster such skills, or does it counteract its mission by distancing students from reality? Join the lively discussion on Vialogues.

Excerpts from the discussion:

@00:28 Ollie Hopper: VR definitely has potential as an SEL tool. I think it could just help make people more open-minded and aware of situations that don't directly affect their daily life, yet that are still very real for other people.

@01:14 Melanie Hering: There's something really strange to me about really rich kids being given the opportunity to "understand" what it's like to be homeless… through a VR program. It is so ironic that these kids are being told they need the most expensive tools around to learn what it's really like to be poor. Why not have them go do a day's work in a homeless shelter?

Posted in: New Learning TimesVialogues|By: Rebecca Sullivan|22 Reads