Virtual Reality Simulation Enriches Students' Field Learning Experience
In the 2018-19 academic year, NYU Silver is piloting a new virtual reality simulation that immerses students in their field learning neighborhood and prompts them to think critically about environmental context and the implications for clients. This initiative, designed to better prepare our students for their field work and practice, is being led by Clinical Assistant Professor Nicholas Lanzieri and Associate Director, Educational Technology Henry Samelson.
The pilot 360 degree simulation, which was funded by an NYU Curricular Development Challenge Fund grant, takes users from the Grand Street subway station onto the streets of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, where many of the public and nonprofit agencies in which our students have field placements are located.
"Along the way," Dr. Lanzieri explained, "the simulation guides students on ways they should be critically thinking about the neighborhood and how it may or may not accommodate the needs of their clients. For example, 'How safe and accessible is the neighborhood?’ ‘What is this environment offering my client?' 'What are the resources there that I can tap into as a social worker?' and 'What fears and biases about the neighborhood and its inhabitants may be creating barriers in my work with my client?'" By engaging in this virtual experience before beginning their fieldwork, Dr. Lanzieri said, students arrive at their placements acclimated to the community and more attuned to the service needs of its residents.
Dr. Lanzieri was recently awarded funding from NYU IT's Teaching and Learning with Technology group to assess and evaluate the simulation, which will inform future work on the project.