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"I made two virtual reality films against bullying with my students"

Bullying in schools is a universal reality. More specifically, in the Wallonia-Brussels region of Belgium, one in three students is a victim. Young people have chosen to write and produce two documentaries to raise awareness of this reality among their peers and thus reduce the number of harassment situations in their environment.

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Bullying in schools is a universal reality. More specifically, in the Wallonia-Brussels region of Belgium, one in three students is a victim. Young people have chosen to write and produce two documentaries to raise awareness of this reality among their peers and thus reduce the number of harassment situations in their environment.

Social studies teacher Laurent Di Pasquale guided and accompanied them in this project. As the pandemic was in full swing and student morale was down in January 2021, he had the idea of proposing that they make a film in virtual reality to engage them in a collective and collaborative project. In the end, two films were made and his students chose the theme of bullying.

He shared his experience at the most recent AQUOPS conference held in Quebec City from April 12 to 14, 2022. It also offers several resources within a collaborative Padlet wall.

Why virtual reality?

Virtual reality allows to digitally simulate an environment. Depending on the technologies used (headset or other), it allows to create an immersive atmosphere for the viewer. "We create emotion!"

It is possible to watch already existing productions, on YouTube for example. Some of them even offer possibilities of interaction in the environment. The most adventurous will create their own productions from a 360 degree camera.

Laurent saw an educational potential in this technology. To motivate his students, of course, to allow them to realize a complex project from A to Z, but also to offer them the possibility to create positive memories in a rather depressing period. 

"We were alternating school and home at 50 % of the time. We all needed to find meaning in what we were doing, to have fun together. My students will remember that year (2021) as the year they made virtual reality films, not the year of confinement!" the teacher says.

Two documentaries

Two films were made. The first video allows you to put yourself in the shoes of a student who is being bullied at school; the second in the posture of the witness. The perspective used, the ambient sounds (notably heartbeats and voices), everything is designed to allow the audience to live and feel the moment, from emotions to discomfort. In the end, they become aware of the impact of harassment on the victims. 

Prior to filming, the students researched bullying to better understand the phenomenon. Each student then wrote a script proposal that was evaluated by the teacher. The final script was created by merging all of these proposals.

The technological equipment to be used for shooting and editing is presented in the Padlet. Suggestions can even be added if you have already experienced such a project. Laurent himself did the editing, under the constant encouragement of his students in the #Teams channel dedicated to the project.

The benefits of this project

  • Work on cross-cutting skills (e.g. reading and writing)
  • Work on 21st century skills (e.g., collaboration and communication)
  • Giving meaning to learning
  • Motivating students
  • Develop self-confidence

Awareness-raising work

Once the videos were complete, the kids didn't stop there. Their school purchased 10 Oculus Quest 2 virtual reality headsets at the start of the 2022 school year. Workshops were then able to be held for other students in the school to view the documentaries and share their thoughts about bullying. A team of students is now self-sufficient in supporting the use of the headsets in the school, as well as being able to do anti-bullying prevention.

Before a workshop is held

  • Think about the spatial organization of the classroom
  • Think about the need and have a goal in mind
  • Start with one helmet and increase the number gradually

During the workshop

  • Regularly and verbally check that the use is going well
  • Offer time without headphones for discussion
  • Ensure that no one experiences physical discomfort (nausea or headaches) with the use of the helmets

"Emotions support attention, working memory, encoding, consolidation in memory or even processes related to executive control." - Sander, 2013

Have you ever done a virtual reality video project with your students? Write to us: we would love to share your experience!

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About the Author

Martine Rioux
Martine Rioux
After studying public communication, Martine worked as a journalist for various publications, before pursuing her career as an interactive communications consultant at La Capitale, a financial group, then at Québec Numérique, an organization she took over as general manager before making the jump. as political advisor in the office of the Minister for Digital Government Transformation. Today she is the online Editor-in-Chief and Special Projects Manager at l'École branchée. Her dream: that everyone has access to technology and can use it as a tool for learning and opening up to the world.

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