Virtual Reality in youth work (EN)

Virtual Reality is experiencing a boom and will be a key element in fields like gaming, entertainment and education in the future. This makes it all the more important for young people to get access to this medium. Integrating Virtual Reality into media education has the advantage that young people can get to know the diverse application possibilities in a safe and cooperative environment.

Country

Austria

Organisation

Produktionsschule spacelab_kreativ, Association Viennese youth centres

Target group

young people and young adults

Backgroud and goals

The spacelab_kreativ production school supports young adults and adolescents in entering the job market and helps them to find the right vocational training. Virtual Reality is experiencing a boom and will be a key element in the future in areas like gaming, entertainment, journalism and education. All the more important that young people have access to this medium. Integrating Virtual Reality into media education has the advantage that young people can get to know the diverse application possibilities in a safe and cooperative environment.

Activities

spacelab provides Virtual Reality games and applications in their open project space and as part of events (in the video e.g. their summer party). It is also ideal to get to know young people better.

It is important to create a comfortable setting so that young people can experience VR in a safe environment: A room without physical tripping hazards. As a youth worker it is important too to keep an eye on the well-being of the young people (getting sick) as well as on the rest of the group, that they treat the person playing respectfully, that nobody touches, annoys or films/photographs the person who is currently in the virtual reality.

Attention is also required in the selection of software / applications, because in VR immersion, the realistic feeling in a technical environment, is quite strong.

In a group setting it is important that the audience can follow the VR action on a screen. For larger groups, it is advisable to keep a registration list with the order of the players inside the group, this avoids conflicts. An illustrated catalogue is also recommended, so that the young people can choose during the waiting period what they would like to play later. In many VR games, such as the highly active game “Beat Saber”, even young people who have little contact with computer games quickly achieve success. Even young women can often be reached better with VR games than with other games.

VR also provides a lot of potentials for topic-centered educational work, because the medium makes it possible to take on perspectives that would not (safely) be possible in reality (e.g. deep-sea dives,…), or there are applications that allow us to experience the everyday life of elderly people who are moving around in a different way due to their limited mobility.

Ressources

Before investing in VR equipment, it is important to define exactly for what purpose and where it should be used – should there be mobile interventions? There are different solutions, but it is essential to be well informed about them because they are cost-intensive purchases. (Virtual Reality headsets, controller, Playstation 4, TV, maybe loudspeakers; party tent with side walls for outdoor activities. Alternatively: Virtual Reality Set with computer or mobile Virtual Reality devices.)

In many cities there are now VR caf├ęs, where you find more information and you have the chance to try different things out (also with young people) before actually buying equipment.

Feedback

Young people are curious about virtual reality – a powerful motivation to try it out right away. So they lose their shyness about using virtual reality devices and develop a will and interest in the various possible applications.

Links

https://www.jugendzentren.at/themen-projekte/spacelab/

https://www.jugendzentren.at/publikationen-blog/blog/virtual-reality/