Last week at the immersive Learning Research Network (iLRN) 2023 conference, my co-authors (Matthew Schmidt, Carla Schmidt, and Heath Palmer,) and I received the prestigious Best Academic Presentation Award. Our presentation, “Did they actually learn anything? Promoting generalization from the virtual world to the real world for autistic adults,” was recognized not only for the impact of our research but also for the innovative use of artificial intelligence (AI) in creating a captivating academic presentation.
Our joint study explored the potential of a fully immersive virtual reality (VR) intervention for teaching transportation skills to autistic adults, specifically related to using a university shuttle. Using a multi-method approach, we delved into identifying and understanding behavioral patterns in both the VR environment and the real world, alongside gauging participants’ perceptions of telepresence within the VR setting.The results were promising. The six adult male participants displayed high consistency across VR and real-world sessions, with no significant differences in their behaviors detected between the two settings. This provided robust evidence that skills acquired in a VR environment can be transferred effectively to real-world situations, underscoring the potential of VR as a transformative tool for autistic adults. Additionally, participants reported high perceptions of telepresence and social presence, indicating that they experienced a meaningful connection between the virtual and real worlds.
The success of our presentation was amplified by our strategic use of AI tools. We aimed to create a presentation that was both insightful and visually compelling. AI tools helped us convert complex data and ideas into accessible and visually engaging designs, creating an appealing narrative that could be easily understood by our audience. The use of AI in our presentation turned a traditional academic session into a more relaxed experience, enabling us to effectively communicate intricate research findings in a digestible and engaging manner. The seamless blend of thorough research and cutting-edge AI technology was, we believe, instrumental in our receipt of the Best Academic Presentation Award.
As we continue our research at the intersection of VR and AI in the context of education and interventions for autistic adults, we are motivated and excited by our award. We are confident that our continued efforts in this area will contribute to enhancing the quality of life for autistic adults and push the boundaries of immersive learning. Thank you to all of those who voted for and supported our efforts