School's Back: Scaffolding Reminiscence in Social Virtual Reality with Older Adults

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Baker, S
Kelly, RM
Waycott, J
Carrasco, R
Bell, R
Joukhadar, Z
Hoang, T
Ozanne, E
Vetere, F
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Social virtual reality (social VR) is an emerging technology that has the potential to support unique social experiences for groups of older adults. In this paper we explore the use of social VR to support group reminiscence, an activity that has been shown to have a positive impact on the lives of older adults. We developed School Days, a bespoke social VR application that enables groups of geographically dispersed older adults to meet in a virtual environment to reminisce about their school experiences. We conducted a user study over the course of 5 months with 16 participants aged 70 - 81 to evaluate how School Days supported reminiscence. In this paper, we focus on how the use of reminiscence scaffolding features in School Days impacted on the older adults' ability to participate more fully in the reminiscence activities. Our results illustrate the value of social VR for connecting older adults over distance, and contribute new knowledge of how virtual environments can be designed to scaffold reminiscence; how techniques such as 3D conversation starters and individual artefacts can be used to scaffold reminiscence; and how pre-recorded holographic stories (Avacasts) can be used to introduce new perspectives and prompt self-reflection. We contribute five design reflections aimed at guiding the design of future reminiscence tools in social VR.

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Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
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Human-centred computing
Social and personality psychology
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Baker, S; Kelly, RM; Waycott, J; Carrasco, R; Bell, R; Joukhadar, Z; Hoang, T; Ozanne, E; Vetere, F, School's Back: Scaffolding Reminiscence in Social Virtual Reality with Older Adults, Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction, 2021, 4 (CSCW3), pp. 267