VR filmmaking projects offer potential for powerful lessons in empathy

Dive Brief:

  • Increasingly affordable virtual reality technology is making it even easier for students to put viewers in their shoes via filmmaking projects, according to The Hechinger Report
  • The 360 Filmmakers Challenge, organized by nonprofit Digital Promise, received 29 student-made VR submissions, with nine earning an award and four chosen for the San Francisco International Film Festival.
  • Typically, the VR video equipment used would cost $350, but the Digital Promise Global offshoot covered the cost for schools via the Oculus VR for Good initiative.

Dive Insight:

With growing focus on social-emotional learning, video projects that can allow students to put viewers in their shoes and share their perspective from a first-person point of view can be a valuable tool in building empathy in the classroom. The four films selected for the festival back that up, covering topics including bullying and suicide, student anxiety, a young woman's perspective of her hometown, and the process a person goes through in assembling a high school theater production.

Measuring progress in non-quantifiable SEL skills like empathy, however, has proven difficult for many districts. Despite progress in several states, concrete standards have yet to be agreed upon in comparison to more traditional subject areas like math or science.

Additionally, that these 29 schools were able to receive the technology needed for the film projects via Digital Promise and Oculus highlights that schools and districts should partner with nonprofit and private sources if they don't have the funds to purchase them. In an era of continual cuts to education funding, finding organizations and companies willing to support education can make a world of difference — particularly for low-income schools and districts.

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Filed Under: K12 Technology