Immersive Education in Aboriginal History

Consolidating political histories of Aboriginal activism with knowledge generated by student experiences within a virtual reality environment

The aim of this pilot project is to bridge gaps in Aboriginal History education by consolidating political histories of Aboriginal activism with knowledge generated by student experiences within a virtual reality environment. This virtual environment is a proof-of-concept created in the NSI Lab that replicates audio-visual content resourced from the Aboriginal History Archive (AHA). It delivers an immersive education experience that supports the advancement of the Australian Curriculum with innovative technology use.

The AHA is Australia’s leading online archive of records relating to Aboriginal self-determination, the land rights movement and the development of Aboriginal community survival programmes. The key objective of the AHA, currently funded by an Australian Research Council Linkage Infrastructure Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) grant is to digitally protect and make accessible primary source material (approx. 500,000 items) that document nearly  century (c. 1920s to 2017) of Aboriginal political agency.

Testing a virtual reality replication of AHA content would place the student-user inside the experience of significant historical events such as the Aboriginal protest at the Tent Embassy in Australia’s capital city Canberra in 1972. This 3D immersive simulation will encourage students to interact with reconstructed historical events that aim to generate evidence-based learning important for understanding contemporary Aboriginal politics.

This pilot project will record and measure student-user engagement and receptivity of the VR Aboriginal histories proof-of-concept to better inform the advancement of the Australian Curriculum which is currently challenged by outmoded content and/or concepts. Several key priorities of the national Australian curriculum will be addressed by this pilot project including closing the gap in education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. For the wider learning community is can ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories are taught from an informed perspective.

Resources from the AHA  will be given context by the project Advisory Committee comprising leading Aboriginal academic historians Professors Gary Foley and John Maynard as well as Professor Larissa Behrendt whose expertise in driving and leading successful progressive education reform is nationally recognised.

Research Team

External Collaborators

Prof John Maynard, Indigenous Education and History, University of Newcastle

Prof Larissa Behrendt, Indigenous Research, University of Technology Sydney


Seed Funding 2017