What does it mean to use technology for empathy?

In my journey to reconsider Virtual/Augmented Reality as a tool for educators in the UWC context, I was thrilled to come across the extraordinary work of  Nonny de la Peña.

She is perhaps best known for the work she’s done to author Project Syria in 2013. She’s no stranger to seeing this technology as a way to foster empathy.  Her TEDx Talk is well worth the watch (caution the language and images are disturbing).

Nonny de la Peña continues to provoke audiences with a free VR app “One Dark Night.”

“The near constant flow of news detailing yet another shooting death of a black person by U.S. police officers may eventually dull the shock for some observers, but what if you could relive the incidents reported as if you were there?

That’s exactly what the “One Dark Night” app aims to do with its immersive virtual reality reenactment of the February 2012 Florida shooting death of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman.” (continue reading here)

If you’d like to see the app in action, click here.

Nonny de la Peña wants to put us inside of the scene of an event:

Not only will Immersive Journalism seek to change what it means to ‘read’ the news, but it will also reconsider the role of the reporter.

If you follow BBC News Labs, you’ll find a conversation about the evolution of journalism. This is a great place to start. An example of their work can be seen in this 360 degree video documenting the scene around The Bataclan after the terror attack.

The New York Times has dedicated an app to immersive journalism (here), and they’ve changed what the ‘opinion’ section means with ‘op-docs,’ or opinionated documentaries: “Honors for Op-Docs include two Oscar nominations, two News and Documentary Emmy Awards, and two Peabody Awards …” (taken from their site here).

Anetta Jones produces VR content for The Guardian.

The content ranges from poetry to experiencing solitary confinement to experiencing what it means to be a forensics investigator:




Storytelling and journalism will look remarkably different in the next decade…are we preparing our students to develop that content?

On Thursday, Contrast VR released “I am Rohingya”, the world’s first 360° documentary about the Rohingya crisis.

“Hearing about it or seeing pictures of it was not enough. It just felt it was the right fit for the medium of virtual reality, to be able to take the viewers out into the refugee camp, to be able to take them to these people and give them a glimpse of what their challenges are,” said Rasool. (full story here)


I Am Rohingya from Contrast VR on Vimeo.

Are you exploring immersive journalism? Please leave a comment with other links worth exploring.