Social Work Masters Students at NYU are using virtual reality (VR) as a way to increase perspective-taking before entering the field. The VR experiences allow students to apply their classroom knowledge in immersive environments and help to ease the transition between being a student and working with clients.

The VR headset transports students to places their potential clients might visit every day. In a crowded subway station or street corner, the VR program asks the user to consider how clients with different needs might respond to the space. The VR also overlays the visual field with historical context and statistics about the area. Ideally, students grow in their ability to understand their clients’ perspectives through these experiences.

Do you think that this VR headset can actually promote increased perspective-taking? In what other fields could such experiences be useful? Add your voice to the discussion on Vialogues.

Excerpts from the discussio:n

@00:34 Toland Lawrence: I think that VR can be a powerful way to get inside someone else's perspective. But I think this experience doesn't quite get there. It does prompt you to think about what this experience would be like for people who have different challenges, but it would be better if it showed what that was like.

@00:34 Sara Hardman: I think the prompting questions could help students gain something from the VR experience that they wouldn't necessarily if they visited the subway station on their own. Being asked questions that help them reflect on the experiences of others could prompt such questions when they are on their own, however.