By Dr. Anthony W. Palmer
People with Autism have challenges understanding nonverbal social cues. Researchers and educators are looking for better ways to help students on the Autism Spectrum develop the skills needed to interpret these social cues. In his article VR Gives Students New Ways to Learn, Calvin Hennick reports that Virtual Reality “is a useful tool for students with special needs, particularly those on the autism spectrum. Many students with autism need to practice navigating real-life settings and scenarios that neurotypical students take for granted.” He interviewed Kristen Powell, an assistive technology trainer and consultant with Chester County Intermediate Unit, she uses virtual reality to help students with special needs. She said that “There’s only so far you can go with direct instruction. I can show students a picture, but it’s not real life. To me, virtual reality is this great bridge between direct instruction and real-life situations.”
This aligns with the observation of Darren Nonis on the power of immersive environments “If the things in the environment have behavior and react to the user’s motions, he/she will take those objects more seriously as actual things and the illusion of immersion will be enhanced.” The scripts and role play in the classroom often seem artificial. They also tend to cause anxiety in students with Autism. Virtual reality provides an immersive, real-world, safe experience that is engaging. Students can practice the skills they need in this realistic environment as many times as they need.
Hennick describes how Virtual Reality creates safe opportunities for students to explore real-world scenarios, mitigates the anxiety of visiting new places, fosters growth, and hones social skills. He discusses how educators use the Lenovo Daydream VR headset, and Google Expeditions to help students “to explore sites ranging from the Great Barrier Reef and the North Pole to the Tower Bridge and Beijing’s Forbidden City.”
To read the full article click here –
Nonis, D. (2005). 3D virtual learning environments (3D VLE). Ministry of Education, Singapore.
CREDIT: Nils Jorgensen/REX/Shutterstock
Emily Gera, has reported on the success of research on Virtual Reality (VR) interventions for people with Autism. As a father of a son with Autism and as a teacher of students with Autism, I appreciate the value of VR Interventions to create a safe and realistic space to practice social skills.
From the article in Variety –
“We found that students who received the virtual reality experienced increased in their understanding of social skills,” Rowland continues. ”This increase was significantly different from students that did not have access to the virtual reality experience. We also found that students who learned from the virtual reality experience were also able to generalize their understanding to non-virtual environments. Finally, students expressed a level of understanding and presence in the virtual reality experience enhancing the learning experience and understanding of the social skill being described and in which the student interacted.”
“There are a wide variety of social encounters that are based on our targeted users’ own social encounters,” she explains. “This includes both school-based encounters, like classrooms, cafeterias, and will soon include daily life encounters like movie theaters, sporting events, etc.”
“The social encounters vary in complexity based not only upon the user’s age and specific social need but also upon negative or positive feedback within the environments itself. If the user is progressing, the difficulty is increased to assure the user is always being challenged. In addition to the level of complexity of each situation, the situations are categorized, allowing for two-dimensional complexity optimization.”
“In theory, the more realistic and immersive, the less processing is required,” says [Justin Ehrlich, Ph.D.].
Read the full article here; https://variety.com/2018/digital/features/voiss-interview-vr-hmd-1203086576/
Free video by Trip Hawkins about Games and Education – “Revolutionary Bedfellows: IF Teachers and Game Mechanics Unite to Innovate.”
“In this free GDC Vault video from the first App Developers Conference, Trip Hawkins (EA, 3DO founder) discusses what the game industry can teach educational app developers who target a preteen audience by highlighting how his team will create iPad game IF…, in the talk “Revolutionary Bedfellows: IF Teachers and Game Mechanics Unite to Innovate.”
To watch the video click here;