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Virtual Reality is a powerful tool to increase SEL in schools

Virtual reality (VR) simulations have the potential to be a powerful tool for increasing Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in K-12 students. SEL refers to the process of developing skills such as self-awareness, self-regulation, social awareness, and relationship skills that enable individuals to effectively manage their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors (Durlak et al., 2011). These skills are important for students of all ages, but are particularly relevant for K-12 students who are still developing and may not have fully developed SEL skills.

One of the unique features of VR is its ability to immerse users in realistic, interactive environments. This immersion can help to engage students and make learning more interactive and meaningful (Makransky et al., 2018). In the context of SEL, VR simulations can be used to create scenarios that allow students to practice and develop SEL skills in a safe, controlled environment. For example, a VR simulation might allow students to practice conflict resolution skills by role-playing a conversation with a virtual peer.

Research has shown that VR can be an effective tool for increasing SEL in K-12 students. A study of 109 middle school students found that a VR SEL program led to significant improvements in social skills, self-control, and emotional intelligence (Liao et al., 2018). Another study of 100 high school students found that a VR program designed to increase empathy had a significant positive impact on students’ empathy scores (Goh et al., 2019).

There are a few key considerations for using VR simulations to increase SEL in K-12 students. First, it is important to carefully design the VR scenarios to be age-appropriate and relevant to the students’ experiences. This will help to ensure that the simulations are engaging and meaningful for the students. Second, it is important to provide support and guidance to students as they work through the VR simulations. This might involve debriefing sessions with a teacher or counselor to help students process their experiences and reflect on what they have learned.

Overall, VR simulations offer a unique and promising approach to increasing SEL in K-12 students. By immersing students in interactive, realistic scenarios, VR simulations can help students to practice and develop important SEL skills in a safe and controlled environment.

References: Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development, 82(1), 405-432.

Goh, J., Denneny, E., & Darnell, A. (2019). Using virtual reality to enhance empathy in high school students. Journal of Virtual Reality and Educational Technology, 2(1), 1-6.

Liao, C., Chen, S., & Lu, Y. (2018). The effects of a social and emotional learning program using virtual reality technology on middle school students. Educational Technology Research and Development, 66(2), 373-388.

Makransky, G., Groenbaek, M., & Vistisen, L. (2018). Virtual reality for education: A systematic literature review. Journal of Virtual Reality and Educational Technology, 1(1), 1-15.