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Dr Bryan Boyle: Incoming Fellow

Project Title: 3D Collaborative virtual environments for social interaction

Host Institution: TCD

Host PI: Dr Inmaculada Arnedillo Sanchez, TCD

Home Institution: Mada AT Centre, Qatar

Email: bryboyle@gmail.com

This project intends to develop and examine the potential of 3D-collaborative virtual environments to enhance the social interaction skills of children with moderate ASD.  The project aims to be highly participative in nature and intends to involve children with ASD as well as their parents, teachers, friends throughout the design process. To date, many virtual games do not facilitate children with ASD or ID to play or learn together collaboratively and are often challenging to use for children with more moderate or severe learning challenges.

The virtual environment will provide participating children (many of whom are non-verbal) with opportunities to learn and practice a range of social interaction skills by presenting, multi-player games specifically designed to provide realistic, collaborative learning expereinces for children.  The candidate is interested in focusing on children with more moderate to severe ASD or Intellectual disabilities as to date, most of these virtual reality interventions are aimed at high functioning individuals.

The platform will be low cost and will leverage as much as is possible on creating virtual environments using technology currently available thus ensuring that minimal barriers exist for children taking advantage of such learning technology. The proposed project will examine the nature and composition of collaborative virtual environments that supports the learning of social interaction skills for children with ASD and will examine two further research questions; firstly can collaborative virtual environments provide a learning platform for children with ASD to develop and practice social interaction skills, secondly can skills developed in virtual environments be generalized to real-life social contexts.