How might we use virtual reality to
improve social skills of mentally handicapped students?
National Science Foundation REU Research Intern
(VR Design + Cybersecurity + UX + Data Science)
A VR classroom for kids with learning impediments.
Challenge: Improve social skills among students with cognitive disabilities in a safe and controlled environment.
Solution: Design a VRLE classroom to educate on interpersonal interaction.
Students need individual attention and struggle to understand appropriate social behaviors .
Learning at their own pace
Realtime user feedback
Research cybersecurity threats to vSocial
Hone my design skills across virtual applications
Learn about assistive technology
Discover ways to help others through design
Dr. Stitcher and other experts at the University of Missouri Department of Education provided the SCI curriculum.
First of all, what will the students be learning in vSocial?
Social Skill Building
Self Appropriating Behavior
Social Competence Intervention Curriculum
Jump in! We started brainstorming and wireframing our ideas.
Like any exciting project, at first we had a lot of ideas. We narrowed them down to a few key features of the project.
Photo credit [x]
We drew out user personas, empathy maps and journey maps in order to better understand the students of vSocial.
Let's look at vSocial from the student perspective.
Samantha Empathy Map
USER INTERVIEWS & USABILITY TESTING
Students entered VR with an instructor, then were interviewed to examine attitudes and experiences.
We conducted a usability study to get feedback on our system.
Our results were surprising, as most users struggled to understand how to navigate through vSocial. This led to several system changes.
Several key findings surfaced from the usability test.
60% of users were confused about VR controls, and only 57% of users felt confident in vSocial.
Solution: Put up signs throughout the curriculum to help show users how to navigate
We brought vSocial to a middle school in Columbia, MO and students were very interested in the system
So, are all the kids in America going to be able to attend school in our PJ's next year, instead of coming to class?
Errors Are Body Language
Students were jumping on mountains and trying to hang from objects in VR.
Solution: Additional gravity locks and let students know what they can do. Add signs at each unit to make it clear.
Users wanted a more private means of communication between their peers.
Solution: Tablet app that the instructor can monitor, so users can "text", similar to the real world.
Many students were unsure of their educational progress.
Solution: A reward system for students where instructors can give feedback on their performance.
Big takeaway: Communicating is more than just talking in VR.
There are many channels of communication (texting, body language, etc), which can be matched in VR. Confusing controls make for miscommunication, so indicate system confines.