This article describes the experiments conducted by Stanford graduate students at two California schools to harness new virtual reality technology to build student’s social emotional skills (SEL). At San Jose’s Alpha Public Schools, students are testing out Emoti, a virtual reality (VR) mindfulness exercise developed with a grant from inspirED, a partnership between Facebook and the Yale Center of Emotional Intelligence. At the Synapse School, a private school in Palo Alto, students are testing another virtual reality program called Space Flight, in which students play as an astronaut who must make decisions to help a fellow in the face of a disaster.
These, and other new SEL programs, have been developed in response to the concern of some researchers that current efforts to teach social emotional skills, such as role-playing and trust exercises are not taken seriously by students. Researchers hope that virtual reality can provide truly immersive experiences for students. In addition, new technology can track individual student responses to an exercise through biometric measures of students’ stress-levels, and thus offer the possibility of personalized SEL training. While the author notes that these technologies are still new and untested, many educators and school/district leaders will be interested in reading about their potential, as they consider options for school SEL programs.
Source Organization: EdSurge