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  • Northern Heritage Network

    Michael Hamaoka
    The Northern Heritage Network has curated immersive virtual museum exhibits and tours showcasing the rich history, landscapes, and artifacts of the Northern periphery and arctic regions of Europe. These web-based 2D and 3D experiences highlight treasures from the Orkney North Isles, Downpatrick Head, and St. Kilda, as well as offering virtual walks in Teampull na Trionaid and Barca Lang's.
    Branch House: House 3. Galleries, Libraries, Archives, & Museums (GLAM), House 6. Language, Culture, & Heritage (LCH)
    Learning Sectors: K-12 (Primary), K-12 (Secondary), Informal / Community / Lifelong Learning
    Platform: WebGL, WebXR, or other web technology

    All of these exhibits operate best if accessed from Google Chrome. Simply visit the URL to interact with the exhibit or tour 2D and/or 3D features and audio narratives. Some exhibits pair with Google Cardboard. In the service of relative brevity, not all installations are listed here. Please visit the Northern Heritage Network website for more installations, maps, and virtual sites associated with the region.

    VIRTUAL ORKNEY NORTH ISLES: The exhibits here are 2D and 3D interactive experiences using soothing music-scapes and natural sound. Users select tabs to discover more information about the following local regions: North Ronaldsay, Westray, Sanday, Shapinsay, Stronsay, and Papa Westray. Each link offers users virtual tours, interactive maps, and immersive panoramas, enabling users to watch 360-degree footage of the region's beautiful seashores, grasslands, and landmarks. 'Regional Highlights' introduce users to historical artifacts and tools common to the region. Users can expand each item to view 3D replications of various objects and tools, rotating them with their mouse or keypad. Links also load informational boxes providing historical overviews of landmarks like 'The Old Light Beacon' built in 1789.

    VIRTUAL ST. KILDA: Virtual St. Kilda includes several installations, each embedding rich media. The home page uses regional songs in dialect to engage the user. ‘1810 St. Kilda' is an animated introduction to the region and offers an option to view its content using Google Cardboard. Users can engage with a small cottage scene, beginning with the player's arrival on a beach. The player clicks a small boat on the shore for more information about the scene. By hitting directional arrow keys, users advance the 3D image narrative by cutting into the scene with each click. 'St. Kilda Voices' uses audio narrative storytelling, coupled with a photo montage, to facilitate residents' personal stories.

    TIMESPAN RECONSTRUCTIONS: Most of the installations on this site are like those previously described. Website links include 3D and 2D experiences of the region. Everything associated with the Northern Heritage Museum appears to be coupled with Google cardboard. Like St. Kilda, the 'Pre-Clearance Longhouse 1813' installation includes several VR-enabled scenes. This exhibit utilizes several gamification features. Users can pan, tilt, and zoom but can also click on many objects in the scene to put them in a narrative context.

    NORTHERN HERITAGE FEATURED VIRTUAL SITES: Over a dozen virtual sites are located on the 'virtual sites' page of the website, including immersive introductions to Medieval Perth and the Ice Age in Scotland.

    Skills / Lessons Learned:
    Although this entry encompasses well over a dozen interactive 2D and 3D, rich-media-driven installations, an overarching learning theme exists: the importance of protecting these lands and their rich culture and history. Visiting these exhibits introduce users to local music, history, art, military architecture and tools used by the peoples in the region.

    Learner Engagement:
    The immersive experience can be integrated into the everyday classroom in several ways. Many of the exhibits represent excellent examples of projects instructors might engage students in. For example:

    • Ceòl Uibhist a Tuath: Introduces visitors to the music of North Uist throughout history. K-12 or adult music teachers can use this installation to instruct students in vocal phrasing or the importance of music to live up to communities in troubling times.

    • The West Highland Museum project represents an example of using rich media and 3D and 2D technologies to preserve a culture that is excellent for history classes, social studies, classes and more.

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