VSOCIAL

How might we use virtual reality to

improve social skills of mentally handicapped students?

ROLE

National Science Foundation REU Research Intern


(VR Design + Cybersecurity + UX + Data Science)

TEAM

Gabby Hoefer

Prasad Calyam

Aniket Gulhane

Roland Oruche

Akhil Vyas

TOOLS

Virtual Reality
Javascript

High Fidelity
Wireshark
Netlimiter
Steam

DURATION

Summer 2018

(3 months)

OVERVIEW

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 .

Project Goals

  • Learning at their own pace

  • Realtime user feedback

  • Research cybersecurity threats to vSocial

Personal Goals

  • Hone my design skills across virtual applications

  • Learn about assistive technology

  • Discover ways to help others through design

PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT

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

Teamwork

Social Norms

Group Collaboration

Self Appropriating Behavior

Social Competence Intervention Curriculum

INITIAL EXPLORATIONS

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.

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Photo credit [x]

USER RESEARCH

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.

Santiago.png

Santiago Persona

Samantha Persona.png

Samantha Persona

Empathy Map.png

Samantha Empathy Map

Journey 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.

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Learnability 
 

User Communication
 

Transference
Effectiveness

RESEARCH FINDINGS

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.

Intuitive Design

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

 

User Satisfaction
 

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.

Direct Communication

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.

Education Progress
 

Many students were unsure of their educational progress.

 

Solution: A reward system for students where instructors can give feedback on their performance.

DESIGN OUTCOME

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.

Publication

Our research examining cybersecurity threats to VR was published in the IEEE CCNC in January 2019.

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© 2020 Gabby Hoefer