What is Project TimeTravel?
Project TimeTravel is an educational virtual reality history and literature simulation.
This software was developed for use with the Oculus Rift virtual reality device, a PC, and an Xbox 360 controller (although a mouse and keyboard can be substituted).
The gameplay is simple:
The story begins in a garage where you have built a time machine. It is a hack-job construction, but it works well. You now have the ability to travel to several time periods. Each of these time periods is a different demo-esque scene consisting of one or two detailed interior rooms. One of the time periods is more open-world based. You then witness time-scripted events, forcing you to spend a certain amount of time in the scene soaking in the historical environment or listening, perhaps, to a speech. You may look out of a window, such as in the 1940’s decorated flat and see the German aircraft in the night sky while you hear the voice of Churchill on the radio. You gradually realize you are in London during the Blitz. Each time period is intended to teach a little more about history or literature.
The core experience of this project is to create in the player a sense of presence in a specific time period.
This effect is achieved through period scenery, objects, and sound, as well as requiring the player to spend a certain amount of real time in a given scene in order to imagine life in an historical environment.
Being a high school literature teacher, I have created Project TimeTravel as a unique experience.
It is especially designed for the curriculum that I teach (British Literature.) However, future development may allow for expanded material to assist other courses in history or literature. I have several more ideas for different time scenes and how these “events” will contribute to an overarching mystery that must be solved by the player, if there is sufficient public interest and I obtain the resources. Of course I cannot overlook the potential here for education and bringing VR to the classroom. I have also discussed future development ideas with several colleagues who want to include material they teach into Project TimeTravel. All the educators I have talked to agree that transporting students to virtual historical events may enrich their understanding of history and literature.
I have tested Project TimeTravel with high school students to great success.
My literature students were especially excited to experience environments we have studied in class in a virtual environment. The unique aspect of Project TimeTravel is that it allows students to witness literature, such as Churchill’s speech, in their original historical contexts.
Project TimeTravel can be used in the classroom to create student interest in historical events.
Currently I have not included any historical informational text so that students will first experience the events, then later research the history on their own. During trial runs of this software, I have found that students are interested enough to continue the research afterward. In education, I have found that creating that initial student interest is most of the battle.
Experienced modelers and coders needed for future development.