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Designing a virtual environment for teacher training: Enhancing presence and empathy

Kalliopi Evangelia Stavroulia, Evangelia Baka, Andreas Lanitis, Nadia Magnenat-Thalmann


Virtual Reality(VR) is still an emerging technology in terms of recognizing its full potential in education and specifically in teacher education. A key issue of a VR-based approach for teacher training, is the level of presence along with the empathy inflicted on the trainees that will allow them to experience realistic and emotion-rich classroom situations in a virtual environment. This paper describes an experiment that aims to assess the influence of the graphical realism of a virtual classroom to the levels of presence and development of empathy skills for trainee teachers. Moreover, a second objective is to investigate whether there are significant differences between training in a VR classroom and a real physical classroom and how this affects the trainee teacher. The overall conclusion of the experiment is that the design of the VR classroom environment influenced the levels of immersion and presence. Moreover, according to the results there are serious indications that the VR system provided users the immersion necessary for the development of embodied thinking skills and thus of empathy in relation to multiculturalism.
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