An interdisciplinary team of undergraduate students, library workers, and faculty from Carleton College and Grinnell College are using 3D modeling and VR technology to explore the social and cultural roles of Viking longships, in collaboration with museum professionals from the Viking Museum Haithabu and the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County.
The Virtual Viking Longship Project was recently spotlighted in a Carleton News post by Josey MacDonald, where readers can hear from project collaborators on what they have learned so far from the project and where they are headed next. From the post:
“The project was designed to test how we can do virtual reality development on campus with undergraduate researchers,” said [Austin] Mason. Mason expects that virtual reality will evolve to play a larger role in educational settings and historical research. At the present, it is best suited for what Mason calls “low-hanging fruit”—gaming and technical training for high-stakes tasks such as surgery, rather than aspects of culture or daily life. But just as history evolved to focus less on big events and more on marginalized voices, Mason sees virtual reality eventually encompassing more voices and “diversifying the number of options available for people to experience.”
The project received funding from an NEH Digital Humanities Advancement Grant, which supports the creation of the 3D longship models and VR experiences, such as games that educate users about the contents of a Viking’s sea chest or that teach users how to row a longship. The grant also supports the documentation of their workflows and learning outcomes in order to provide recommendations to other institutions that wish to develop similar experiential learning opportunities for undergraduates working with VR.