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VRO Project News

Launching the Virtual Reality Oracle at the Classical Association Conference, Cambridge

First published: Thu 27 Apr 2023

We were delighted to launch the Virtual Reality Oracle (VRO) at the Classical Association conference in Cambridge, 21-23 April 2023. This conference is the largest subject-specific conference for Classics in the UK, and is an international event. We were able to bring the VRO to an audience of researchers and teachers from across the country and the world.

We kicked off our visit on Saturday morning, with Professor Esther Eidinow, the project’s principal investigator, delivering a keynote presentation, and hosting discussion, about the VRO project, the VR experience and the website with teaching resources.

For the remainder of the conference, we demonstrated the VRO to conference attendees; showing them its varied accessibility on headsets, tablets, laptops, and phones. The take up was tremendous. The oracle of Zeus responded to over 90 visitors, and the feedback – from teacher and academics alike – was terrific.

‘It really took the academic and made it “real”.’

‘It was incredibly illuminating and educational. Attention to detail is unsurpassed. It is really engaging, beautiful, with vibrant colours and great sound effects. The sound effects are so great that it channels/speaks to audio and visual learners. This is a game changing, all immersive experience.’

‘I learned a huge amount. Overall it was mind-expanding!’

‘Even as an academic, I struggle to visualise ancient sites when I visit them and see only fragments and foundations. This was an incredible way of making the past and ancient space come alive. It will revolutionise public engagement.’

‘Utterly epic.’

The conference ended on a particular high for us, as the Regius Chair of Greek, Professor Tim Whitmarsh, featured the project not once, but twice in his final plenary lecture. Professor Whitmarsh described the VRO as the future of Classics, a perfect example of the ‘Biomatic age’ that the discipline has come to define.

We have since heard that teachers, who experienced the VRO at the conference are already using it in their classrooms. As Lizzy Hays, Head of Classics at Kent College wrote:

‘I used the 360 video in class with my to U6 pupils today as part of their revision for the A Level. The pupils were engaged with the video and enjoyed exploring the site. They found the stories informative to help them learn about the types of people and the different questions asked at Dodona. It worked well to weave in all the different information. It brought to life the role of nature and how atmospheric it was. They liked the display of promanteia.’

Our thanks to the conference organisers for inviting us to launch the project at the CA, and for all their help before, during and after the event.

If you would like to learn more about the project, access the teaching resources, and/or download the VRO for yourself and use it in a classroom or research setting, visit the VRO’s website.