By CATAdvanced Cash

Can a computer cultivate a loving heart?

It’s counterintuitive on its face that computers could teach compassion to humans. Yet exposure to one software program, Ripple Effects, has resulted in higher empathy scores, as well as lower rates of discipline referrals and higher grades among students from diverse background – even when no content has been mediated by a live teacher.  Besides empathy training, the program includes tutorials on kindness, and honesty, as well as assertiveness and confronting injustice, and 400 other not so obvious topics, from acne to pet dying. Come and experience first hand an interactive white board demonstration of group exploration of computer-based training in empathy and decide for yourself whether “skillful means” in transmitting loving kindness can be brokered by a machine.

About the Workshop Leader:

Alice Ray is a long time child advocate and social entrepreneur. 25 years ago she  initiated development of Second Step, the first violence prevention program to systematically develop empathy in school settings. It is now in more than 25,000 schools in 26 countries. In 1996 she co-founded Ripple Effects to explore how technology could add value to efforts to prevent social injury by and against children, and to promote their school and life success in the process. Ripple Effects is now the global leader in the use of emerging technologies to promote social-emotional learning in schools. The Company’s software had been recognized with 29 major awards from the education, software, health and communications industries and is listed as a model program by the National Dropout Prevention Center. Research shows it works: It is effective in developing empathy and problem solving abilities, even without any adult mediation of content.  Its use results in higher grades and fewer behavioral problems, especially among student with multiple risks for school failure. Ms. Ray has been recognized with more than fifty major awards for social leadership and creative achievement in film, video and software design. None is as important as the knowledge that her work has empowered children at risk of being victims – and perpetrators – of social injury to to find in themselves a heart of justice and compassion.