A journey to Jordan… you ready?

By Grace Lau, GNG’s Director of Virtual Reality

We were thrilled to see the smiles and excitement that stretched across the faces at our SXSWedu workshop. Our VR Lab debut was welcomed with such warm reception!

A couple weeks ago, we took SXSWedu participants on a journey to Jordan straight from their seats in Austin, Texas. First stop? Amman. We then asked “What do you already know about Jordan? What images that come to mind? and where have you previously learned this information?” For a seasoned educator, this was the beginning of our KWL chart. With great excitement, we asked the participants put on the Google Cardboard and looked through its lens. And the did. They looked up and down, left and right. They saw sunny blue skies above, patches of vibrant green grass below, pillars of distinguished stone from side to side. “Perhaps not the Middle East you imagined?” We welcomed them to the Citadel, also known as Jabel al-Qala’a, placing them right at the center of The Temple of Hercules, one of the beloved landmarks in Amman, built during the reign of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. Who would have remembered the Roman Empire reached down to the stretches of the Red Sea?

If you have a Google Cardboard on hand, you can experience the Citadel in Amman for yourself. Simply pull up this link on your phone.

This 360 scene is part of a larger VR experience following a day in the life of a teenager in Amman. A brief lesson plan is being created to accompany the VR experience to explore the themes of building multiple perspectives and increase global awareness and cultures (coming out in our VR Lab Fall 2016).

Next stop in Jordan, we headed over to Zaatari Refugee Camp. Putting on their headsets, the participants found themselves in the middle of Zaatari, currently housing 80,000 Syrian refugees. They were given an intimate glimpse of the camp through a VR film, Clouds over Sidra(created by VRSE and the UN Millennium campaign). Sidra narrates her life in the camp, sharing with the participants her new home and community. This film debuted in Davos at the World Economic Forum in January 2015 to serve as a tool for policy makers and global leaders to gain a first-hand understanding of how their decisions impact civil society. To help give your students a head start in building empathy as they develop their leadership and decision making skills, we’ve created this lesson plan so you can easily integrate the Clouds Over Sidra VR.

On April 21st, we will be hosing a live webcast connecting Syrian youth with their American peers and warmly invite you to watch and participate through a Q&A function. RSVP now and see how virtual reality and virtual exchange can become a meaningful learning experience for your students.

To learn more, visit GNG’s VR Lab.