American Social History Project • Center for Media and Learning

Mission US: Time Snap – Can VR Enhance the Teaching of History?

Published September 14, 2018

In June 2018, the Mission US team — Electric Funstuff , WNET/Thirteen, the American Social History Project, and Education Development Center — received funding from the U.S. Department of Education’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) to create a new groundbreaking series, Mission US: Time Snap. Building on a successful Phase I grant for prototype development and classroom testing, Time Snap combines new virtual reality (VR) technology with rigorous document-based instruction to explore how VR can support high school students in the work of “doing history.”

After decades of experimentation, VR is transporting audiences to normally out-of-reach places, allowing them to grapple with abstract concepts, scale, and dimensions in ways not possible with other media. With the production grant from the SBIR program, we are creating a series of four Time Snap missions that combine mobile headset-based VR and game-based learning to immerse high school students in four transformational moments in U.S. history:  Boston, 1770; the Mason Dixon Line, 1851; the Great Plains, 1872; and the Lower East Side of New York, 1907.

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