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XR technologies implemented within museum spaces to further augment the educational experience
On Tuesday November 26, 2019 MOV hosted, Rebooting Greek Language, a launch event with the SNF Centre for Hellenic Studies at SFU. Photo: Dale Northey.

VANCOUVER.- The Museum of Vancouver has recently partnered with the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Centre for Hellenic Studies at Simon Fraser University to explore the potential of Extended Reality as a tool for enhanced educational programing and opportunities. Known as Between Worlds - A Greek Civilization XR Experience, this pilot project uses a repertoire of spatial interface technologies in order to implement an experimental XR digital hub that can support experiential cultural interaction and feedback within immersive virtual spaces.

“With technology evolving at such a quick rate it’s really important for us to find things that compliment and augment what we already do,” says Mauro Vescera, CEO at MOV, “This partnership is a great opportunity to explore XR with respect to education by connecting our artefacts and objects to real stories. It’s also a way for the organization and museums in general to explore, investigate, and identity future opportunities to integrate this type of technology into our activities.”

On Tuesday November 26, 2019 MOV hosted, Rebooting Greek Language, a launch event with the SNF Centre for Hellenic Studies at SFU. During the event, attendees were invited to preview a new augmented and virtual reality experience featured in MOV. Between Worlds – A Greek Civilization XR Experience showcases technology and content developed within the ambit of Rebooting Greek Language, made possible through the generous funding of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. The exhibit includes content that aligns with British Columbia’s new Grade 7 social studies curriculum.

The main goal here is to allow the technology to be a tool to tell the story and enhance the experience – not to be the focus of attention. The project, much like its title, aims to allow students to easily step between the worlds of the present day and ancient Greece. Participants are able to view a static museum artefact or object and bring it to life with a contextual narrative that engages them on a much deeper level.

“The experiences we have developed, challenge us to reconsider what is possible in museum spaces. Instead of moving through a room full of inert artifacts, the entire exhibit itself is a spatial interface,” say Dr. Nick Hedley, Professor of Spatial interface Research and Geovisualization. “This collection of XR experiences combine science, (digital) cultural heritage, data visualization, interface technology and historical narratives, in provocative ways. They provide visitors with portals between physical and virtual worlds, connecting present and past,”

These experiences span a range of geographic scales and contexts including: looking through a doorway in museum space, to experience the daily domestic life of an ancient Greek home in virtual space, witnessing a famous Greek naval battle from the perspective the deck of a warship, a journey deep into the underworld, rebuilding a ruined Tholos, and participating in ancient rituals. Physical objects and historical artefacts will be the starting point of these engagements, while the story arch and narratives that accompany them bring an elevated historical meaning to the student’s learning outcomes.

“At the SNF Centre for Hellenic Studies at SFU, we are always looking at new and exciting ways to teach Greek Language and Culture,” says Costa Dedegikas, Rebooting the Greek Language project coordinator and , “You can’t ignore the power and potential of Extended Reality (XR) to capture the imagination of young learners especially for Greek Culture which offers such a recognizable and rich visual history. Greece’s cultural heritage has been at the forefront of popular culture articulated using digital technology in movies and video games. We are excited about combining emerging technologies with methods developed in research; and to build compelling learning experiences that are historically accurate, socially relevant, culturally aware – and engaging for young learners.”

The pilot project’s main goal is to collect survey data from student participants to gauge the engagement and learning experience. If successful, the project will then have the opportunity to be replicated and re-calibrated to showcase other cultures and histories to areas of BC and Canada where accessibility is an issue and concern.

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