Virtual Reality & Autism: Part 1

This is Part 1 of a series of blog posts around a new endeavor for our program, exploring immersive virtual reality (VR) and it’s potential in our setting.

Several weeks ago I had the pleasure and luck to cross paths with Jaclyn Wickham. Jaclyn is a former classroom teacher-turned-technologist exploring the potential of technology to enhance teaching and learning. She holds a B.A. in Elementary Education and a Master’s degree in Human-Computer Interaction from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP), where she spent two years exploring new and emerging technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, tangible interfaces, and wearables. Jaclyn has eight years of experience working in K-12 classrooms, as an elementary teacher, a professional development specialist, and an instructional coach. She has presented at numerous technology leadership conferences on various Ed Tech topics including digital citizenship, project-based learning, inquiry-based practices, game-based learning, and blended learning models. You can check out Jaclyn’s work and experiences on her WEBSITE. You can also find a full bio HERE.

After several months and no breakthrough leads to incorporate immersive VR experiences that were truly customized for our students, meeting Jaclyn was a breath of fresh air and one of renewed hope. We chatted several times and it seemed like her work and our hopes were a good fit. Recently, I reached out to my staff and got an overwhelming response across ages, disciplines, and our entire agency. Educators, service providers, direct support professionals, and more responded that they would like to be a part of this and see the potential for positively impacting the lives of the individuals we work with.

While this partnership and brainstorming are still in their infancy stages, the ideas are already flowing. Staff hope to use these customized VR experiences anywhere from social settings to transitions, employment settings, community outings, and more! Imagine having a student work in a safe, customized VR experience about going into a community setting and then actually generalizing those skills. That is just one of many goals that were discussed.

Here are some areas that staff hope to implement this cutting-edge technology.

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The next steps include further meetings between me and Jaclyn as well as my staff committee that are willing to participate in this and explore the potential. I will continue to blog about this as we do it and I hope that you enjoy reading about our successes, challenges, and growth.

It is truly an amazing thing when people with similar passions come together for others. As I always say, innovation happens at the intersection of passion and purpose.

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  1. Pingback: Virtual Reality and Autism Part 2: Instructional Design Phase | Educational Technology for All Learners March 16, 2017

    […] can find Part 1 of this series HERE.  We have been doing a lot of work behind the scenes and are ready to move into the next phase.  […]

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