Focusing on education using high technologies, this project is unique in the Czech environment. Using virtual and extended reality, comic strips and videos, GULAG XR will assist teachers in teaching modern history while allowing students to discover the reality of Soviet repressions in an interactive, research fashion. Gulag.cz is launching workshops for teachers and presentations for the general public this May, and the entire programme will be available on the website for free use with effect from September 2023.
The core of the GULAG XR training programme builds on the outcomes of Gulag.cz’s unique historical and archaeological research. Thanks to virtual and extended reality as well as the memories of witnesses from Central and Eastern Europe, students will get to experience the authentic Gulag atmosphere. Guided by a researcher’s diary in the form of a comic strip, they will learn to better discern the traits of totalitarian regimes and reaffirm their attitudes to democratic values. In addition to that, they will gain new knowledge as well as research skills.
GULAG XR is intended for primary and secondary school students from the 9th grade up and is available free of charge to schools and educational institutions in the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, and Slovakia. The victims of the Soviet government terror included thousands of Czechs, Germans, Poles, Slovaks, and other Europeans, yet this topic has not been perceived as a part of shared European history to date. This topic remains largely unknown to the general public in the Czech Republic. This is also confirmed by an analysis of textbooks that the authors completed as part of the project and that can also be found on the GULAG XR website.
“In our educational programme, we employ a researcher approach, letting the students develop their own hypotheses, which they then verify or disprove on the basis of further evidence. We also combine actual artifacts discovered during our expeditions to Gulag camps with the recollections of people who survived the imprisonment. We let the students reach their own conclusions regarding the life in Gulag and the essence of Soviet repressions through discussion with support from teachers,” says Chairman of Gulag.cz, Štěpán Černoušek.
Virtual reality as incorporated in the project is often an entirely new experience for students. It allows them to get a realistic glimpse into the degrading environment in the camps and bits and pieces of information from prisoner life. This ‘brief visit’ has the potential to stir their curiosity and interest to find out more information and explore the topic more in-depth.
Interested teachers can register for workshop dates all over the country from now on. At the workshops, they will learn how to approach the topic of Soviet repressions through GULAG XR using extended and virtual reality.
The educational programme will be available on the website along with instructions and teacher methodologies free of charge from September. Its modular and variable nature allows it to be adapted to the number of children as well as the equipment and time available. Hence, the programme can be approached as one class or an entire school day.
More information and workshop registration forms can be found at www.gulagxr.eu.
An experience afternoon for the general public, media and teachers is scheduled for 22 May 2023 from 3 to 7 pm at the Anežka café on the premises of the Convent of Saint Agnes (Anežská 12, Prague 1). During the event, visitors from among the general public, media and teachers will have an opportunity to try the programme including extended and virtual reality. Entry to the event is free of charge.
The author of the GULAG XR project is Gulag.cz, a Czech organisation, along with partners: Scio, the German office of Memorial, Poland’s Eastern Europe Collegium, and the Slovak office of Post Bellum. The project is financed from the Erasmus Plus European programme.