Recently, the U.S. Department of Education has granted Schell Games $1 million to continue their development of HistoryMaker VR, a VR tool for middle school classrooms.
HistoryMaker VR is a VR puppeting tool that allows students to embody historical characters in different settings, record themselves as those characters, and then share their performances in order to show what they have learned. Students can use era-specific props to help with their performances and also recite speeches while using an in-VR teleprompter. Students will be able to utilise different ways that their speeches can be watched by their audience, such as exporting a recording so that the entire classroom can watch the presentation.
“The most recently published National Assessment of Educational Progress report (NAEP, 2014) cites only 18 percent and 23 percent of 8th grade students performed at or above the proficient level in U.S. history and civics, respectively. What’s more, students commonly report they find history to be boring and they lack motivation to understand or remember the content,” remarked Jesse Schell, CEO of Schell Games and Principal Investigator of HistoryMaker VR. “The generous grant from the IES coupled with the talented HistoryMaker VR development team could play a significant role in helping those numbers climb in the near future by offering students an entertaining way to learn about the past.”
This isn’t Schell Games’ first rodeo, either. The company was awarded grants for Happy Atoms, a chemistry learning tool designed to teach molecular modeling, and HoloLAB Champions, which teaches students good habits when working in a chemistry lab environment.
With this million-dollar grant, Schell Games will add additional ways for digital characters to be manipulated, presentation and preparation options and tools, and documentation for professional usage. HistoryMaker VR will also be developed so that mobile VR hardware such as Oculus Quest will be able to use the software, lessening the financial impact of VR software on schools.
What do you think of this news? Do you think that HistoryMaker VR could be a good learning/teaching tool? Let us know in the comments!