i-irasshai: An Immersive Cultural Learning Environment
Carolyn Cole , Georgia Institute of Technology, USA
Brian Jones , Georgia Institute of Technology, USA
Andrew Quay , Georgia Institute of Technology, USA

Session: Technology: Digital Video/ Broadband

i-irasshai is an educational web site/CD-ROM that creates a unique cultural immersion experience to learn about Japanese culture. The goal is to help non-Japanese students gain insight into Japanese culture by allowing them to explore within an authentic context, but without the requirement of a foreign language. Through the integration of photography, video, and audio captured on location in Japan, students "walk through" twenty locations (including Japanese residences, a school, market, temple, shrine, sushi restaurant). 360-degree virtual reality images of the locations are enhanced with sound and "show me" hot spots that portray modern daily life in Japan realistically, much as a visiting student might experience it. Pictorial and textual information provide current and historical information sections accessible through the 360-degree images or via a "guidebook."

To encourage a goal-directed exploration, students are invited to choose from fifty "to-do" lists that cover different aspects of Japanese culture. Certificates reward successful completion of each list. Students may also engage in an "open exploration" without the lists, or in some combination of open and goal-directed exploration. During their exploration, students may experience up to sixty interactive activities simulating various cultural situations.

This paper will discuss each stage of the three-year project: planning content and technology, implementation, and evaluation. Georgia Institute of Technology, in partnership with Georgia Public Broadcasting's Peachstar Education Division (GPB), created and produced this CD-ROM/web site under a National Endowment for the Humanities Grant to GPB.

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Published: 01/09/01
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