Designing Immersive Experiences that Create Empathy, Reveal Biases, Alter Mindsets

July 24, 2019

Reach Every Reader’s Chris Dede, Wirth Professor in Learning Technologies and Iulian Radu, Post-Doctoral Fellow, discuss Designing Immersive Experiences that Create Empathy, Reveal Biases, Alter Mindsets at the 2019 Serious Play Conference.


In this talk we discuss insights from designing and studying immersive experiences aimed at improving early literacy outcomes through personalized learning, spanning virtual, augmented and mixed realities as well as non-immersive applications. Our serious games provide research evidence into how these varied media can enable adults (teachers, school leaders, families, and caregivers) to implement personalized literacy learning at the organizational and individual level.

We will present lessons gained from designing experiences across immersive media such as 360 video, virtual environments with agents, mixed reality systems with human-in-the-loop characters (ex: Mursion, and augmented reality. We will also discuss approaches and takeaways for creating experiences intended to build empathy towards the unfamiliar (ex: our work on parents using VR to experience the world as young children with reading disabilities), experiences for detecting unconscious biases (ex: teachers educating a stimulated classroom of students in ways that may trigger innate biases), and experiences to contextually modify parental mindsets (ex: parents using augmented reality to alter their strategies for children’s literacy).

Overall, we will present general lessons from building simulated authentic situations in which teachers and parents learn to overcome challenges in early literacy development. We will pause our talk/lecture occasionally for questions that enable brief small group interactions.