Page 32 - Campus Technology, October/November 2018
P. 32

Using VR to Help Students Understand Cultural Differences
A virtual reality project at North Carolina State University is giving engineering students a safe space to explore the cultural assumptions that color global communication.
Category: Teaching and Learning Institution: North Carolina State University
Project: GlobalVR: Teaching Cultural Competencies Through Virtual Reality
Project leads: Ilin Misaras, assistant director, Global Training Initiative
Tech lineup: Adobe, GoPro, Kolor, Moodle, Oculus, Samsung, WondaVR
Ilin Misaras
IN AN ERA RIPE with mistrust and fear, it’s easy to set empathy aside. But what if we could step into the eyeballs of another person to get his or her point of view from the inside? Could that lead to greater understanding? That’s the idea for a project at North Carolina State University that uses virtual reality to help engineering students understand different cultural perspectives.
As part of a two-hour workshop, students pop on a virtual
reality headset (most recently, that’s the $199 Oculus Go) and attend a virtual meeting that brings together a small group of people from the United States, China, India and Singapore. In the opening scene of “First Impressions,” the user observes a global business meeting taking place in an office in China. It’s apparent as the meeting progresses that the interactions among the various characters are leading to tensions. All of the students see the same thing, remove their headsets and go through a bit of discussion. They’re asked simply to be ob- servers first, “and not apply any judgment to what’s going on,” said project lead Ilin Misaras, assistant director for the univer- sity’s Global Training Initiative (GTI). “Don’t tell me that [some- body] is weird. Tell me what he said.”
Following that, the headset is pulled on again to watch the same scene repeated. But this time, each user has been assigned to one of three people in attendance at the global meeting and assumes his role from a first-person point of view. At several points during the meeting, the action stops and the user hears the thoughts of this “alternate self.”4
CAMPUS TECHNOLOGY | October/November 2018
Photos: North Carolina State University

   30   31   32   33   34