Augmented Reality experience allows young people to positively take control of the statues debate
The charity Black Learning, Achievement and Mental Health (BLAM) has the goal of promoting a positive dialogue of social identity and culture by promoting learning of Black, Asian and minority ethnic history by young people in the UK. But with just 11% of GCSE pupils studying modules referencing black people’s contributions to Britain and fewer than one in ten formally focusing on issues of the British Empire and its outcomes, the organisation has faced an uphill struggle to reach the young people it aims to support.
With the advent of the Black Lives Matter movement and the subsequent controversy surrounding public monuments, BLAM saw an opportunity to harness momentum around BAME history and looked to partner with the Landmrk platform with a view to develop a learning opportunity around the ability to virtually place testaments to black pioneers anywhere in the world — with AR plaques, statues and information points.
The resulting ‘BLAM History Bites’ digital experience offers users the opportunity to look closer at historical events including the Bristol Bus Boycott, the Mansa Kings of Mali and La Mulatresse Solitude. After watching, reading or listening to content and answering a set of multiple choice questions on the platform, their results are registered on a dynamic, saveable badge and they are rewarded with a 3D AR statue to be positioned anywhere on the Landmrk map for other users to explore and learn from.
Ife Thompson, BLAM UK Founder said: “From Key Stage One up until GCSE and even A-level history, the curriculum has an overly Eurocentric point of view and neglects the contribution of historical Black figures. This app was curated to amplify their contributions and celebrate black heroes. We want this app to teach young people about the individuals who fought for the freedom of black people, as well as, educate them on parts of history that are often neglected.
“The app also features a virtual interactive map that showcases important black figure with statues and plaques to commemorate them. Not only is this a good use of screen time but also a good educational tool.”
The development of BLAM History Bites has been made possible through strategic investment in Landmrk by the European Space Agency and the UK Space Agency. This has fuelled the building of an innovative solution for organisations that work with young people during the Covid-19pandemic (and beyond). To date, projects that have been supported by this new platform include STAY/Race To Africa, which offered a fresh take on online fundraising, and Burnley Together, which has the aim of supporting young people’s mental health over the course of lockdown and its attendant stresses.