Today we had an excellent meeting with two local History teachers to discuss trialling our model in their schools. In chatting about the what aspects of our model might best benefit their students, a key copncern was really helping students gain a ‘sense of period’, to grasp not only chronological distance and its effects (though this was a factor and, of all our representational tricks, the walkable time-line, which is extremely lo-fi – just a sequence of bill boards featuring ppt slides of major historical events leading back to 1854 alongside the road visitors have to walk to reach the model in OpenSim – was immediately recognised as something useful) but environment and attititudes which informed events and reactions to them.

What was most exciting about talking to teachers from different schools was the opportunity it presented to start thinking about the worth of our virtual environment, and the Crystal Palace itself, as a mode for bringing together History topics, students and staff. The Crystal Palace offers so many possibilities for exploration of the kind of themes favoured by school History curricula (Industrial Revolution, Empire etc), and the virtual world can bring those issues together to show how they intersect as well as placing them within the wider context of physical architecture and social attitudes, as voiced by our ‘bots. And although the Pompeian Court may not seem the most immediately obvious part of the Palace in which to play out these kinds of topics, it’s certainly the case that guide-book writers (both those employed by the Palace and by independent publishers) understood this Court and the culture it represented as a product of the Roman imperial system.

We should be running trials with both teachers later in the year and we’re really looking forward to further conversations about how this kind of project could work in a school setting. Thanks so much to Richard and Andy for sparing us time in the holidays.


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