An Introduction to Immersive Journalism

What does it mean to use technology for empathy?

In my journey to reconsider Virtual/Augmented Reality as a tool for educators in the UWC context, I was thrilled to come across the extraordinary work of  Nonny de la Peña.

She is perhaps best known for the work she’s done to author Project Syria in 2013. She’s no stranger to seeing this technology as a way to foster empathy.  Her TEDx Talk is well worth the watch (caution the language and images are disturbing).

Nonny de la Peña continues to provoke audiences with a free VR app “One Dark Night.”

“The near constant flow of news detailing yet another shooting death of a black person by U.S. police officers may eventually dull the shock for some observers, but what if you could relive the incidents reported as if you were there?

That’s exactly what the “One Dark Night” app aims to do with its immersive virtual reality reenactment of the February 2012 Florida shooting death of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman.” (continue reading here)

If you’d like to see the app in action, click here.

Nonny de la Peña wants to put us inside of the scene of an event:

Not only will Immersive Journalism seek to change what it means to ‘read’ the news, but it will also reconsider the role of the reporter.

If you follow BBC News Labs, you’ll find a conversation about the evolution of journalism. This is a great place to start. An example of their work can be seen in this 360 degree video documenting the scene around The Bataclan after the terror attack.

The New York Times has dedicated an app to immersive journalism (here), and they’ve changed what the ‘opinion’ section means with ‘op-docs,’ or opinionated documentaries: “Honors for Op-Docs include two Oscar nominations, two News and Documentary Emmy Awards, and two Peabody Awards …” (taken from their site here).

Anetta Jones produces VR content for The Guardian.

The content ranges from poetry to experiencing solitary confinement to experiencing what it means to be a forensics investigator:



Storytelling and journalism will look remarkably different in the next decade…are we preparing our students to develop that content?

On Thursday, Contrast VR released “I am Rohingya”, the world’s first 360° documentary about the Rohingya crisis.

“Hearing about it or seeing pictures of it was not enough. It just felt it was the right fit for the medium of virtual reality, to be able to take the viewers out into the refugee camp, to be able to take them to these people and give them a glimpse of what their challenges are,” said Rasool. (full story here)


I Am Rohingya from Contrast VR on Vimeo.

Are you exploring immersive journalism? Please leave a comment with other links worth exploring.

New Mediums: Same Mission

Now I know there’s been a lot of hubub about VR/AR for years, and I know that incredible new gaming innovations and the newest VR arcade in Singapore might be the uses of VR that get the most headlines but there are many other innovative uses of these technologies which will be sure to inspire educators

In the next two posts, I’ll be focusing on where we might want to focus our attention when it comes to AR/VR. Whilst the Kolibree Magik is definitely something I would have wanted as a kid, it’s less likely to feature in this series of three posts (as part of our #UWCLearn TriBlogAthon). Specifically, I’m going to do my best to curate connections between VR/AR and the UWC Mission.

“Of all media, VR has the unique transformative power to induce behavioral change in participants, as demonstrated by numerous studies in cyberpsychology and social neurosciences” (Alexandra Ivanovitch, “VIRTUAL REALITY: THE FRONTIER OF PEACEMAKING “).

One example of this intersection can be experienced with the free app Enter The Room:

Have an example of VR/AR which has the potential to inspire a UWC campus? Please leave a comment below!

UPDATE: Excellent feedback From Clint Carlson here:

I’ve been working VR into my classes this year with a few projects.


  1. 3D modeling that was typically for 3D printing I’ve now pulled into VR (TiltBrush) to make things larger, showing 3D models of objects too fragile or impractical for printing, and to start spurring much bigger thinking.
  2. I’m working with a math/humanities teacher who runs a 7th grade “City In The Sea” project. Typically this was a conversation about taxes and governments including each student building their part of the city with cardboard. This year I got involved and had the entire grade build their city in TinkerCAD. We could then take this model into VR and suddenly students are walking down the streets they built, understanding the needs for wider roads, parks, signage that can be seen by the residents, and more.
    1. We were able to color code this as well! We now have versions to quickly interact with where the residential areas are (yellow), utilities (red), etc. so the teams can work to build a city that works best for all.
  3. My 9th grade Digital Design students re-created existing buildings around the world, identified the issues those buildings are having (climate change, crowded hallways, etc.), modeled solutions to those issues and created a fun, non-practical addition (waterslide off the Great Wall of China, cable transport between The Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame, etc.)
  4. My 9th grade Digital Design students are also 3D modeling our ENTIRE SCHOOL for their end of the year project. This project not only requires the entire class to work as a team with daily debriefs on how we will divide up and share the work, but will also result in a 1:1 VR of our school where we can walk down the halls and touch the walls, walk through doorways that end up replicated perfectly.
    1. Future uses of this will include the ability to restructure the school, rethink spaces, create a “haunted school” where we can walk through the school with ghosts coming through the walls, and global warming units where we can flood the VR school to see the impact.
    2. I’d love to work with another school where we 3D model each other’s spaces using just information provided from the distance classes to see how close we can model just using information provided from each other. We could then explore these spaces together in a VR environment.
  5. Piloting a small biology class next year when we have 3 VR headsets. One for the teacher and 2 on students where they will dissect a VR cadaver, see how bones and tendons move and connect, etc. all within a VR laboratory. Assuming this goes well, i’ll be expanding this pilot to include an entire classroom in 19-20.


Lots of potential, lots of planning, lots of thinking to be further developed!”