Virtual reality creates hands-on experiences that engage and inform students in new ways

Although the limits and possibilities of using technology for teaching and learning have been highlighted in the last year, we have begun to explore the usefulness of using virtual reality as a medium for learning. Holocaust education before the pandemic reformed the educational landscape.

Virtual reality (VR) has been around for over 30 years, but only recently has it become affordable enough to be widely used. It is reasonable to expect virtual reality to become a major technology in the coming years.

Over the past decade, researchers, museum professionals, and educators have begun to explore the use of virtual and augmented reality in relation to Holocaust education and memory. At the same time, the Future Projects team (a group focused on innovations in Holocaust education and memory at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, or USHMM) and a group of professors and students at the Rowan University Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights (the Rowan Center) have been working on independent but parallel virtual reality projects.

Sthe students revealed that they were eager to spend more time with the experience. One even said he “never wanted to learn history.”

Both projects focus on the Warsaw Ghetto, the well-known ghetto established in German-occupied Poland by the Third Reich during World War II. USHMM and Rowan Center teams developed and deployed and then gathered feedback on these projects from a variety of stakeholders, including scholars, museum professionals, high school and high school teachers, college students, and a general audience.

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