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Mobile AR for Inquiry: CI Spy

In our NSF (Cyberlearning EXP) funded work we used the Christiansburg Institute (CI), a historic former African-American segregated school that existed until 1966, as our exploratory testbed. The legacy and significance of the CI campus in terms of racial segregation made it an ideal case study for teaching local history as a gateway to regional and national history. Over the years, the CI site has changed significantly; only three acres out of 180 remain, and only two buildings–the Edgar A. Long building (on the historic register but inaccessible) and the Scattergood Gym (currently a local church) remain of the original 13.

While the campus itself is no longer visible, just as important is the fact that the history of CI itself has also become invisible to many in the local community. The space represents the hidden history of racial segregation. The team developed a mobile augmented reality app for fifth-grade students that scaffolded their own historical inquiry, teaching them the process of inquiry while engaging them in the history of the site.

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