Hastings College students research found students who practiced in front of a virtual reality audience experienced less nervousness than students who spoke in front of an actual audience in the classroom.
HASTINGS, Neb. — Dr. John Perlich teaches communication studies at Hastings College.
He and his students did research that found students who practiced in front of a virtual reality audience experienced less nervousness than students who spoke in front of an actual audience in the classroom.
What students see in the head gear is a 360 degree view of a prerecorded audience.
It makes them feel like they are in the room, but they are not.
"So they're not really watching the camera, they're looking through it. But again, the line of sight makes it feel like they're looking right at you," said Dr. Perlich.
Dr. Perlich has the student recite a speech in front of the virtual audience for practice.
"The student can have as many mistakes, as many missteps as they want to as they work through that process, and it gets easier and easier and easier for them to eventually give that speech in front of a live audience," he said.
Emily Herbek is a student at Hastings College who said the virtual reality audience is a great way to take the edge off.
"That's the best time to make mistakes. You're figuring out how you want to word it, if you know your stuff or not. And if you don't, that just shows you need to practice a little bit more and there's really no harm because it's not a real audience, as real as it might look," Herbek said.
Transitioning from the standard way of public speaking to speaking to a virtual audience is what Dr. Perlich says makes it so exciting.
"For the first few seconds it could be overwhelming with so much change, but once they've had that gear on they get really used to it and acquainted and it works wonderfully. They love it," he said.
Dr. Perlich said he is working on writing grants so they can purchase multiple sets of the head gear.