FOCUS – In Nice, virtual reality helps nursery staff better understand young children.
In thirty years of business, Jacqueline Dufoux had never felt this. “The first time I put the helmet on my eyes, says this manager of the health pillar in the municipality of Nisa, I saw a little girl coming towards me. I said to myself: “What does she want from me? “I got a fear that we don’t feel as adults.”
Developed by the company Come In VR, this immersive training device – called In the eyes of Lia – has been deployed on an experimental basis in municipal nurseries since September. Thanks to a virtual reality headset, it is possible to see the world as a child. “When I saw a mother leave, I thought, ‘She’s not coming back?’says Jacqueline Dufoux.
“We find ourselves in a world of many colors, explains Rosalina from France, director of the Mantega nursery. By placing yourself at the child’s height, you can see how he perceives space and the size of objects.
The idea immediately appealed to Stéphanie Casalta, director of early childhood at the municipality. “Everything looks great, she notes. We don’t feel very comfortable and understand better what the child feels. In classical training, there are often theories… And on the practical side, they are never real cases. Since we don’t remember early childhood, it’s an interesting tool because it puts professionals in a situation.
With 3D, it is possible to understand a child’s perception in certain situations, to measure and understand his frustrations and to become aware of what might bother him. “We learn without hearing or touching, but by feeling thingspoints out David Delaunay, president of Come In VR. Instead of playing role-playing games, with a virtual reality headset, you face yourself. You will imagine the child’s emotions.
The first exercise consists of moving in a crib, trying to grab a book that cannot be reached when you are 80 cm tall. Virtual space is full of traps with passing adults. The second scenario aims to prevent “mild violence”with fifteen scenes where an adult can involuntarily traumatize the child: forcing him to sit down, taking a toy out of his hands or sniffing his diaper in front of other people.
Changing our ways of training
“The goal is to get people back to their workplace, to learn how to learn again. It allows you to retain body memory, it’s not theory, you learn by doing”, adds David Delaunay. A former head of an occupational hazard prevention organization, he founded Come In VR five years ago. “Several factors showed that the world of training had changedhe explains. One of them was generations. In the age of smartphones, our attention spans have decreased, says the head of the company. Imagine: every six seconds, a coach has to come up with a trick to bring attention back… For all the professionalism in the world, it’s getting harder and harder to have people say, “OK, I’ve learned something.” »
Five years ago, the price of technology fell. This encouraged David Delaunay to use virtual reality. “I started with the idea that we had to change our training methods and become more professional. That’s why I chose virtual reality”. he explains.
In Nice, the use of this tool was well received, according to Franck Cini, volunteer ambassador, educator and leader of an early childhood relay. “The beginning is promising, he said. It makes you want to go further. Once we get past the adjustment phase, we’re totally into it. Things happen and we observe them… This disrupts our methods, but it helps us to be more empathetic, to feel things without resorting to indirect observation. Above all, there is a double challenge: to help train the teams, but also to question our own practices. Eight hundred early childhood staff in Nice are to test this atypical tool.