IU Columbus will be receiving a share of a $5.7 million grant to improve civics education and increase interest in public service.
According to the school, the IU Center on Representative Government is receiving the grant from the U.S. Department of Defense as a three year cooperative agreement award.
Stephanie Serriere, an IU Columbus professor of social studies education, will serve as director of research for a project called “Democracy Quest,” which is being funded through the award. Democracy Quest is a virtual-reality interactive learning tool aimed at high school students.
Serriere says students will be able to virtually experience moments in U.S. history such as the signing of the U.S. Constitution and the Tulsa Race Massacre and talk to avatars created from original accounts.
Serriere will be developing and administering surveys and interviews to youth participants and their teachers to better understand how using virtual reality can help students learn history and engage civically. History and social studies classes at IU Columbus will be part of the pilot program.
Students who participate in the iEngage civics camp at IU Columbus over the summer may also use Democracy Quest.
After the three-year pilot, the goal is to make the tool available free, online for teachers.