Digital Recreation of Historical Spaces for Educational Puroposes

As pointed out by Daniel Soucier, digital metaverses like the immersive 3D game Second Life provide educators with software that can allow them to recreate historical spaces lost to time.  Games/programs like this could be extremely valuable tools in the classroom.  Historical natural landscapes and man-made structures can be created for students to view along with their texts.  As a result, history is not confined to the pages of text books and students are given the opportunity to learn using both analog and digital materials.  Yet, despite the myriad possibilities for learning generated by programs and games like Second Life, several issues must be taken into consideration.  If anyone can recreate a historical space in Second Life for all players to view and explore, how can we be sure that what is being displayed has been created through proper scholarly research?  This might not matter if a player just wants to create a space roughly based on a previously existing one, however, if someone has created Thoreau’s cabin and is advertising it as such, how can we be sure that it is an accurate model?  Should games give players the ability to create historical spaces while also providing them with some sort of method for citing sources?  Or, should programs be created for historians and related professions where scholars and students can create landscapes that are subject to a peer review process?  At the moment, these questions and many others need addressed, but one cannot deny the potential utility of technologies that allow for the creation of digital renderings of history.     

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One thought on “Digital Recreation of Historical Spaces for Educational Puroposes

  1. Great questions, Chuck. I agree with you that there is tremendous potential (as there is with so many different technologies), but as a professional historian, I get nervous when things are presented as historical without some kind of evidence or means to verify. I’m not post-modern enough to accept all versions of “history” as equally valid.

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