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Designing Immersive Experiences that Create Empathy, Reveal Biases, Alter Mindsets

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Designing Immersive Experiences that Create Empathy, Reveal Biases, Alter Mindsets

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In this talk we discuss insights from designing and studying immersive experiences aimed at improving early literacy outcomes through personalized learning, spanning virtual, augmented and mixed realities as well as non-immersive applications. Our serious games provide research evidence into how these varied media can enable adults (teachers, school leaders, families, and caregivers) to implement personalized literacy learning at the organizational and individual level.

We will present lessons gained from designing experiences across immersive media such as 360 video, virtual environments with agents, mixed reality systems with human-in-the-loop characters (ex: Mursion https://mursion.com/), and augmented reality. We will also discuss approaches and takeaways for creating experiences intended to build empathy towards the unfamiliar (ex: our work on parents using VR to experience the world as young children with reading disabilities), experiences for detecting unconscious biases (ex: teachers educating a stimulated classroom of students in ways that may trigger innate biases), and experiences to contextually modify parental mindsets (ex: parents using augmented reality to alter their strategies for children’s literacy).

Overall, we will present general lessons from building simulated authentic situations in which teachers and parents learn to overcome challenges in early literacy development. We will pause our talk/lecture occasionally for questions that enable brief small group interactions.


Presented by the
Serious Play Conference
seriousplayconf.com
at
Montreal, Canada, Quebec,
UNIVERSITÉ DU QUÉBEC À MONTRÉAL,
UNIVERSITY OF QUEBEC IN MONTREAL,
July 10-12, 2019

In this talk we discuss insights from designing and studying immersive experiences aimed at improving early literacy outcomes through personalized learning, spanning virtual, augmented and mixed realities as well as non-immersive applications. Our serious games provide research evidence into how these varied media can enable adults (teachers, school leaders, families, and caregivers) to implement personalized literacy learning at the organizational and individual level.

We will present lessons gained from designing experiences across immersive media such as 360 video, virtual environments with agents, mixed reality systems with human-in-the-loop characters (ex: Mursion https://mursion.com/), and augmented reality. We will also discuss approaches and takeaways for creating experiences intended to build empathy towards the unfamiliar (ex: our work on parents using VR to experience the world as young children with reading disabilities), experiences for detecting unconscious biases (ex: teachers educating a stimulated classroom of students in ways that may trigger innate biases), and experiences to contextually modify parental mindsets (ex: parents using augmented reality to alter their strategies for children’s literacy).

Overall, we will present general lessons from building simulated authentic situations in which teachers and parents learn to overcome challenges in early literacy development. We will pause our talk/lecture occasionally for questions that enable brief small group interactions.


Presented by the
Serious Play Conference
seriousplayconf.com
at
Montreal, Canada, Quebec,
UNIVERSITÉ DU QUÉBEC À MONTRÉAL,
UNIVERSITY OF QUEBEC IN MONTREAL,
July 10-12, 2019

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Designing Immersive Experiences that Create Empathy, Reveal Biases, Alter Mindsets

  1. 1. Designing Immersive Experiences that Create Empathy, Reveal Biases, Alter Mindsets Chris Dede and Iulian Radu Harvard University, Graduate School of Education Serious Play 2019, Montreal
  2. 2. Helping Adults Learn and Unlearn Doing Better Things rather than Things Better ● Immersion in simulated authentic experiences ● Research about barriers to changes in behavior and identity: cognitive, affective, social ● Unlearning as a stage of learning
  3. 3. Authenticity through Virtual Environments European Astronaut Centre, ESA
  4. 4. The power of direct experience Virtual environments for immersive simulation
  5. 5. PC virtual reality headsets Technologies we are exploring Smartphone-based interactive 360 videos and augmented reality PC virtual simulations
  6. 6. Affordances for adult capacity-building Authentic experiences for teacher / parent learning Authentic assessments of individuals and groups Reduced cost and risk Technology-assisted data collection Standardized authentic training and testing scenarios Large distribution via web and smartphones
  7. 7. Themes in Current Work ■ Reducing implicit biases and increasing empathy ■ Classroom literacy practices ■ Home literacy practices ■ Apps for literacy and play ■ Developing learning communities: teachers, parents
  8. 8. Projects: Parent Empathy & Teacher Bias
  9. 9. Previous work: VR for Empathy Virtual Human Interaction Lab, Stanford University VARPU, University of Lapland Fluid Interfaces Group, MIT
  10. 10. Virtual Human Interaction Lab, Stanford University VARPU, University of Lapland Fluid Interfaces Group, MIT Previous work: VR for Empathy
  11. 11. Parent Empathy Building
  12. 12. Research Questions Can immersive VR technology simulate the experience of living as a child with reading difficulties ? Can parental empathy be increased through VR technology ? To what degree does the technology medium (VR - PC) impact empathy ?
  13. 13. Empathy: Design Elements empathy Somatic CognitiveEmotional
  14. 14. Empathy: Design Elements Engage multiple components of empathy - Somatic: generate visceral reaction - ex: heartbeats, small perspective - Emotional: generate compassionate reaction - ex: inability to achieve tasks, crying - Cognitive: transfer understanding - ex: information about other situations and parenting strategies Balance non-interactive 360 videos vs. user agency Follow semi-structured narrative Allow interrupted initial setup, for participants unfamiliar with VR tech empathy Somatic CognitiveEmotional
  15. 15. Findings Participants feel empathy, anxiety, struggle, sadness for the child Participants feel the struggle that parent is facing Most participants feel the experience changed them to better understand difficulties of parents-children with reading difficulties "when I had to go back and try again with the heartbeat, it was poignant because I think my expectation was that I was going to find the book, but I couldn’t. I felt mostly the anxiety that a child could feel." “I knew about dyslexia from a research standpoint so it didn’t teach me much about the problem, but it helped me understand what it’s like as a child and as a parent”
  16. 16. Revealing Teacher Biases
  17. 17. Source: Wikipedia
  18. 18. Danaher, K. and Crandall, C.S., 2008. Stereotype threat in applied settings re‐examined. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 38(6), pp.1639-1655.
  19. 19. Project: Detecting Teacher Biases Real student performance Perceived performance Teacher Bias / Mindsets ex: my teaching style works well ex: I treat all equally performing students in the same way ex: high SES students are smarter ex: low vocabulary is slow learning Observed Lesson 1 2 3
  20. 20. Unconscious Biases / Mindsets in Teachers overconfidence skepticism of previous failures identity threat no transitional identity fear of stress lack of resources lack of time lack of community ... Educational reform message Perceived message
  21. 21. Research Questions - Are teachers biased by knowledge of student SES ? - Can immersive technology reveal such biases? - Does the degree of experienced engagement relate to the strength of bias revealed?
  22. 22. User talking to virtual classroom Hidden human puppeteer controls virtual students
  23. 23. Study Design Observed Lesson 1 2 3 Control group: Similar progress No SES information Experimental group: Similar progress High and Low SES students
  24. 24. Study Design
  25. 25. Bias: Design Elements Create immersion through socio-emotional engagement of “live” virtual students, less focus on sensory immersion Quickly reveal the “live” nature of the system, while training user Controlled exposure to bias anchoring content Balance between open-ended interaction vs. scripted research Provide opportunities to reveal biases without lengthy interaction
  26. 26. Findings - None of the teacher participants believed they were influenced by student background or appearance - Low SES students are consistently perceived as making more progress - Disbelief that low-SES students could perform as well as they did - High SES student often perceived as better than others overall - Tension between perceptual bias and equity awareness “Based on the background, at least Veronica (high-SES) has so much exposure. Maybe that is where her ability comes from. But Betty's case does not make sense, because Betty (low-SES) has no family support.” “I was immersed as I was engaged with their raising their hands, asking me questions. The interactions felt real.“
  27. 27. Findings - None of the teacher participants believed they were influenced by student background or appearance - Low SES students are consistently perceived as making more progress - Disbelief that low-SES students could perform as well as they did - High SES student often perceived as better than others overall - Tension between perceptual bias and equity awareness “Based on the background, at least Veronica (high-SES) has so much exposure. Maybe that is where her ability comes from. But Betty's case does not make sense, because Betty (low-SES) has no family support.” “I was immersed as I was engaged with their raising their hands, asking me questions. The interactions felt real.“ “I need to take background information into consideration. For example if one child is hungry and doesn’t have money for lunch, I would want to know that and take it into account."
  28. 28. General Guidelines Interrupted Training: Users are unfamiliar with VR tech, will learn & adjust. Support usability training within the experience; prepare for interrupted initial setup. Personal Connection: Build strong connection and agency early in the activity; possibly by using user’s own characteristics. Connection can be reduced later. Engage the Senses: Use methods from cinematography and interactive narrative to increase engagement and emotional affect. Balance Agency vs. Pre-Recorded Content: Permit user agency to some degree, but carefully consider what aspects need to be controlled. Theoretical vs Embodied Information: Leverage immersion to design multi-layered experiences with cognitive, emotional and visceral effects.
  29. 29. Lessons for Demos and Research Studies - Initial setup may require people to take VR device on/off, causing reset - Experience should work offline - Useful to remotely view what participant sees - Data logging (audio-video, and in-activity) very useful for offline analysis - Collect quantitative (ex: std. survey) and qualitative data (ex: interviews)
  30. 30. Lessons for Design Process - Don’t overestimate technology and users. Technology breaks down, and users don’t always know what you expect. - Lower-fidelity prototyping possible for testing 3D scenes (ex: Sims) and branching narratives (ex: Muzzy Lane) - 360 video post-production tools are scarce, plan to shoot in-camera
  31. 31. Open questions for audience: Do you know of similar work (are you doing it) ? What impact or guidelines have you found ?
  32. 32. Designing Immersive Experiences that Create Empathy, Reveal Biases, Alter Mindsets Chris Dede and Iulian Radu Harvard University, Graduate School of Education chris_dede@gse.harvard.edu , iulian_radu@gse.harvard.edu Acknowledgements Katie Leech, Rhonda Bondie, Diana Feng, Michelle Chung, Jennifer Wang, Guanhua Nie, Karan Bhola, Madeleine Mortimore, Merry Chin, Tara Nair, Raouf Seyam, Mitch Scuzzarella

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