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Updated: Feb 9, 2023

One of the most difficult parts of teaching anthropology during the pandemic was keeping students engaged. For highly conceptual topics, such as cross-cultural explorations of religion and alternative metaphysical systems, it was very difficult for students to stay engaged on a Zoom window for an entire class period. To boost engagement, I designed a VR field trip using the Mozilla Hubs app. Like an online game, Hubs allows users to interact in virtual worlds and communicate in real-time using an avatar system.

With this in mind, I designed a virtual world and field trip for my cultural anthropology students. More specifically, this field trip would be focused on the topic of religion, particularly the West African-inspired of Vodou found in Haiti. Built using ethnographic photos (from ethnographer Dr. Alissa Jordan - UPenn), the virtual field trip focused on a Vodou peristil - a place of healing and spiritual/ancestral worship.

Fig. 1 VR Field Trip to Vodou Peristil in Mozilla Hubs

During the field trip, the students were able to ask questions, interact, and explore. Using my avatar, I toured students through the environment, highlighted important religious objects, and explained how spiritual entities called the lwa inhabited environments while interacting with practitioners in places like the peristl the students were visiting.

Later, test scores proved that students had learned a great deal more from the VR field trip than from other non-VR lessons (on Zoom). This wasn't surprising. That said, what was surprising was the number of students that commented on the VR field trip noting that it was the most memorable class experience they had yet had during their college career.

If you liked this and want to learn more, reach out. Visit the Hubs Vodou World: CLICK HERE

Also, check out my Epic of Gilgamesh VR Museum here (preview image below): CLICK HERE

Fig. 2 Epic of Gilgamesh VR Museum Exhibit

As we join together to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., this remains a dark day in United States history. It saddens us that our nation’s capital is on lock-down and Dr. King’s memorial is temporarily inaccessible to the general public.

We at VR Past&Present (Dr. David Hixson and Dr. Jeffrey Vadala) have been working at the MLK Memorial for a new project that is still on the horizon, but in celebration of the reverend’s birthday, we wished to bring a sample of our efforts, and the monument to Dr. King’s vision, a little closer to all of you.

To this end, we have created two brief preview-products to commemorate this day. We would like to share both of these with you (links below) and ask that you share these experiences widely with whomever might need this inspiration today.

Youtub Video: “Our God is Marching On”

First, we have created a short video using our photogrammetric models of the central sculptures combined with the audio of Dr. King’s inspiring and powerful recitation of “Our God is Marching On,” delivered in Montgomery, Alabama on March 25th, 1965. His words, combined with the imagery of his monument in D.C., are as germane today as they were in the immediate aftermath of the Montgomery bus boycotts of his times.

The MLK Memorial Hub: An Online Interactive Multi-User Experience

The second is a multi-user, multi-platform exploration / interpretation of the MLK memorial hosted in the virtual social gathering platform Mozilla Hubs. This simplified version of the memorial allows users from around the world to gather in the shadow of Dr. King. Whether you use your phone, tablet, pc, or VR headset, all can meet virtually together to tour this iconic monument and explore its spatial significance.

We will be in attendance in the afternoon / evening of Monday, January 18th (Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday) within the Mozilla Hubs reconstruction to give personalized tours or to answer any questions about the process. But this space is open to all of you at any time, to join others in remembering the teachings of Dr. King at this momentous time in our history.

To log into the MLK Memorial Hub, simply use this link and follow the brief setup (no registration required).

For the next 48 hours, we also have a quick login established. To use the quick login (before Jan. 20th) simply go to:, click “Have a Room Code?” and enter the following six digits: 325 292

Preferred Browsers for the MLK Memorial Hub:

To access Hubs on the PC/iPhone/Android, use Safari or Chrome.

To access Hubs on the Oculus Quest, use the official Oculus Browser.

To access Hubs on PCVR headsets (such as Rift-S), use the Firefox browser.

This project was inspired by the work of Simon Che de Boer and We hope to coordinate further for a full release of the entire MLK Memorial in the near future.



VR Past&Present

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