ASU team develops VR software to teach cross-cultural norms - The Arizona State Press

ASU team develops VR software to teach cross-cultural norms – The Arizona State Press

The Cross-Cultural Communication Lab, a Learning Futures group at ASU, develops simulations to teach people the nuances of cross-cultural norms and language in a commercial virtual reality environment.

Developed in conjunction with ASU’s Thunderbird School of Global Management, the simulations will immerse students in virtual business scenarios without the pressure of the real world.

The simulations use a VR platform developed by Talespin, a company that creates VR technology for workplace training. The simulations are currently scheduled to launch in spring 2023 and will be delivered in English, and eventually in Spanish, French, German, Portuguese and Italian.

Students will be immersed in a realistic VR environment, making them feel like they’re in another country, said Michael Grasso, director of digital, audio-visual and media initiatives at the Thunderbird School.

“It’s the full feel of the language that puts them somewhere overseas, like a cafe in France,” Grasso said.

Simulations will put the user in front of characters and environments that mirror real-world scenarios using Talespin’s software.

During simulations, the user will see an animated character and multiple-choice options that can lead to different paths to take in the conversation. Depending on the user’s choice, the character will respond with different emotions, said Taetum Knebel, creative lead of the Cross-Cultural Communication Lab, via email.

The software will be used in language classes at ASU for faculty and students, and the student can be graded based on the choices they make, Knebel said. The simulations are intended to be used for increments of less than 30 to 60 minutes to avoid headaches with virtual reality, Knebel said.

For people who don’t attend ASU, the simulations will be available on Talespin’s platform for a fee, said Toby Kidd, director of Learning Futures Studios.

Simulations were originally intended to be used for language building, but as development progressed, cross-cultural communication was added to make it more unique and provide more value than others. language learning software. The simulations not only focus on language learning and cross-cultural communication, but more specifically on how to use these skills in a business context.

“We want to teach students the executive level if you will,” Grasso said. “So when you walk into that boardroom, how do you approach people from other regions, it’s true, it’s very different. Depending on where you are. Tokyo versus South America. There are different ways of speaking.

The project team is working with subject matter experts from ASU faculty to navigate the sensitive topics and ways that can arise when communicating with people from different cultures and how to apply that to simulations, said Kidd.

Learning Futures develops other virtual reality software, including a virtual classroom called Huddle and an interactive, virtual replica of the ASU Tempe campus.

The simulations are currently in an early testing phase, Kidd said. Immersive learning with virtual reality can help students develop empathy, Knebel said.

“Content immersion makes learners more focused on the content so they learn more about it, and it also creates more empathy for the content because you’re sitting in front of this virtual human who, like, has very realistic to what you’re saying,” Knebel said.

Edited by: Kaden Ryback, Wyatt Myskow, Sophia Balasubramanian and Grace Copperthite.

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