Karen Tanenbaum, a project scientist in the Department of Informatics, has completed work on a VR prototype called “Che’s Village” alongside UC Riverside’s Associate Professor of History Juliette Levy and Oregon Story Board Director Tawny Schlieski.
The experimental application, which was intended to stimulate intellectual learning and critical thinking for college-age users, was demonstrated for Levy’s History 75/History of Latin America course at UCR and for students and faculty at UCI. Many found the game to be an interesting and entertaining supplement to a traditional learning experience.
Inside the VR environment, users found themselves transported to the Cuban jungle shortly after Che Guevara, along with Raúl Castro and others, had recently won the rebellion against the previous Fulgencio Batista regime. Although wildlife and trees populate the world, the central attraction is the text of Guevara’s 1959 speech on land reform.
Links to other content directly connected to highlighted passages in the speech are accessible using a pointer. Users can also open and view the additional resources, including text, images and video, to elaborate on the themes of that particular passage.
Tanenbaum worked as Unity developer on the project, which grew out of her research focuses on tangible and ubiquitous interaction design. Some of her other past projects include “The Reading Glove,” an interactive narrative installation with a wearable RFID enabled glove designed to investigate research questions of interactive narrative, player modeling and tangible embodied interaction; the “Kurio” project, a tangible museum guide developed to research social engagement, play and learning for family groups in museums; and several multi-touch tabletop computing system projects.
“Che’s Village” was only the first step in the design process for a text exploration platform in a VR space. The co-creators are now incorporating feedback from this prototype to improve the VR learning experience for future research and classroom use.
Related reading: UCR Library article on “Che’s Village – Virtual Reality to Stimulate Critical Thinking”