Academy Xi Blog

How virtual reality is increasing educational inclusiveness

By Academy Xi

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For over 60 years, Virtual Reality (VR) has shifted the way we experience the real and virtual world, by transforming people’s perspectives and social interactions. As an increasing number of VR companies and products emerge, Equal Reality, a VR company led by Brennan Hatton, is increasing equality by allowing users to look at things from the point of view of those from a different gender, race, or ability level.

According to Brennan, his company enables “Human to human interaction, but on a global scale, and on the other side of the world.”

From NASA to the NFL, VR is also finding its greater purpose in the education space. NASA is now using VR as a way to train astronauts to perform repairs and experiments in zero gravity. The NFL is also using virtual spaces to not only train its athletes but to assist them with workplace issues like discrimination.

Today, an increasing number of industries are using VR as a method of employee training. According to a report by the National Training Laboratory, retention rates for lecture-style learning were at 5%, with reading rates at 10%. Meanwhile, the teaching method of VR scored a retention rate of 75%.

Within the Deaf community, early intervention and education programs play a vital role in ensuring young people have choice and access to appropriate support. Former Academy Xi VR Design student, Nikhil Bora, is looking to use VR to increase the inclusiveness of education within the deaf community.

“To ensure that there is no difference in life outcomes for deaf children when compared to their hearing peers, then the importance of early intervention and education through technology such as VR becomes self-evident,” says Nikhil.

Both Brennan and Nikhil believe the retention rates of VR are high with those that are disadvantaged because of its immersive experience. “It’s about the experience, which is one of the things that makes Virtual Reality so powerful. This is one of the core values of Virtual Reality,” says Brennan.

“You can give people experiences and communicate experiences that were otherwise impossible. Before, the best we could do was describe those experiences, but now, with VR we can put people in these experiences,” says Brennan.

After seeing the impact of VR in education, Brennan joined forces with former colleagues Rick Martin and Annie Harper, and this was the birth of Equality Reality. Equal Reality uses VR technology to create diversity and inclusion training for corporates, startups, and schools.

“We put you in the perspective of minorities in the workplace to experience social interactions from their point of view,” explains Brennan.

The social scenarios include experiences around gender and disability. For example, the disability scenario creates an experience based on the assumptions people make on another person’s state of physical, mental, social or wellbeing. With the gender scenario, the experience is based around the assumptions of roles and a person’s capabilities based on their gender.

Many of the social situations Equal Reality is working on can be often overlooked by the person interpreting the situation. However, with the help of VR, Brennan says, “When you can feel it, and someone is receiving that impact, you can better understand the negative impacts.”

For Nikhil, he started a passion project using VR and believes that “this project will give the opportunity for everyone to learn and explore about deaf awareness, sign language, and how to communicate with deaf people. This will enable the deaf community to have the same equal experience as everyone else.”

While working on the diversity and inclusion training experiences, both Brennan and Annie are also giving up their time to teach children about the importance of VR  and how they can start working in it.

“Educating youth about VR is incredibly important because, in the future, VR may very well be in their day to day lives. It will play a large part of how they interact with the world and each other,” says Brennan.

Like Brennan and Nikhil, explore how you can drive positive social impact through emerging technologies such as Mixed Reality, Virtual Reality, or Augmented Reality. Learn more about our online courses in Australia.