A faculty at the Lagos Business School (LBS) has bagged a $234,000 grant from the Templeton World Charity Foundation (TWCF) for a two-year virtual reality research.

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The Pan-Atlantic University-run graduate business school broke the news in a statement obtained by TheCable Lifestyle on Tuesday, in which it named the beneficiary involved as Eugene Ohu.

It said the research project titled ‘Teaching Children Empathy and Compassion through Virtual Reality Games’ will explore the potentials of virtual reality (VR) for character development.

It is understood that the grant was awarded to Ohu, who runs a Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) lab at the LBS, in TWCF’s Global Innovations for Character Development (GICD) scheme.

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Speaking on the project, Ohu said, “It will be an immersive VR experience where teenagers take the perspectives of groups different from theirs, to appreciate identity and share in their sufferings.

“We also hope to train teachers at the study schools on the new VR teaching models, so as to incorporate them into the Civics and Social Studies curriculum of secondary schools.

“Although VR is fun, my collaborators and I have broader and more ambitious goals which should see greater deployment of VR in teaching, learning and development at all stages of a person’s life.”

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According to the LBS, Ohu was exploring the implications of the immersive, interactive, and perspective-taking characteristics of technologies like computers, mobile devices, and VR for character development, learning, behaviour modification, wellbeing, and productivity.

Targeting an initial group of teenagers, the study hopes to understand the perspective-taking capabilities of VR to increase understanding of the identities of others different from oneself.

Others involved in the project are Judith Okonkwo, founder of Imisi3D, an Extended Reality creation lab in Yaba, Lagos; and Karen Schrier, a digital games expert at the Marist College, USA.

Immersive VR is a computer-generated environment wherein users are made to experience a digital version of the real world while they can learn and interact with both objects and other people.

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