Educational Equity VR is an immersive virtual reality experience designed to simulate a realistic, stressful classroom environment. The goal is to raise teacher awareness of how implicit bias influences decisions on discipline, and provide teachers with tools to counteract these split second bias decisions. With this tool, we hope to help teachers take steps toward more equitable classroom management choices.
The immersive virtual reality technology used in the training effectively mimics the classroom environment (with details including wadded-up pieces of paper to pencils sticking out of the ceiling), conditions (with virtual students who are diverse and move independently of one another) and interactions under which unconscious, split-second stereotyping can arise. The training begins with teachers giving lessons as they would on a normal school day. While doing so, the training facilitator has the virtual students receive the lesson in a manner used to heighten anxiety in the teachers, with students hurling insults at the teacher and asking off-topic questions. Then, the the teacher goes through a quick mindfulness session and tries the lesson again, with the intent of responding to the students with more understanding. Next comes a debrief in which the participants talk through any reactions that could have been handled better. The training effectively creates the environment for teachers to absorb lessons on how to handle classroom stress in the context of unlearning some of the implicit bias they possess as humans and as instructors.
Our project incorporates proven principles involved in shifting decision-making, including: 1) nurturing motivation by building awareness of one’s own biases without shaming or blaming, and 2) developing an awareness of the shared psychological basis for implicit bias. Understanding implicit bias in this way undergirds our training’s success, and allows teachers to acquire new understandings that lead to self-monitoring behavior change in the classroom. Follow-up support then helps embed their newly advanced equitable class management approach.
Glimmer Technology, UO Center for Equity Promotion, Treadwell Ventures