VR to bring History to life

By Robert Faltermeier

"I became a teacher by accident but on reflection it was a calling and one of the luckiest events of my life. The ability to help shape the future, I believe, makes teachers the luckiest people and most important profession in today's world. Not just for the next generation but for the world future generations will inhabit. We have a duty to help prepare our students for an ever changing world that takes care of our needs and environment."


Learn how Robert uses QR codes, Google Streetview, Expeditions and Cardboard to engage learners in his Grade 11 History classes.

The vision

The vision

With this lesson we wanted to teach beyond the curriculum, not just make the history content relevant but embed 21st century skills within the content of the lessons. We planned our lessons to include the 4 C’s: Creativity, Critical thinking, Collaboration and Communication. We also wanted to promote Historical thinking which is related to critical thinking but also help students see through Fake news and apply these skills to the world in which they find themselves. Lastly we wanted to let our students develop empathy as this will be a key human skill that will be needed in the fourth industrial revolution.

Curriculum standards

The vision
Curriculum standards

This learning facilitated the development of the following skills identified in CAPS:


  • Extract and interpret information from a number of sources.
  • Evaluate the usefulness of sources, including reliability, stereotyping and Subjectivity.
  • Recognise that there is often more than one perspective of a historical event.
  • Organise evidence to substantiate an argument, in order to create an original, coherent and balanced piece of historical writing

Learning journey

The vision

DURATION: 8 x 50-minute lessons over 2 weeks. +-2 hours of student work outside of class time 

Teacher Feature

The vision

Student activities

The vision


My class had a discussion about bias and different viewpoints and fake news in the world at present. We explored whether such things can be acceptable in historical documents and about the concepts of bias, empathy and historical thinking.


We used Google Tour builder as our main online structure as it allows for the students to go on an online field trip and get to experience key sites and areas that they might only read about. But also to help provide context and stories. 


After exploring the content I created, the different groups had to create their own Google Tour. This gave them the opportunity to engage with the content in depth but also exercise their creativity, think  critically about which sources they would use in order to be as objective as possible, and work collaboratively to build and tell their version of the story. 


The Google Tour builder was just one of the platforms the students could use. Some Students also used Google Cardboard to add a more immersive feeling at the different sites. 


The students then experienced at least 2 of their peer groups' projects and gave feedback based on the 4C's and evidence of historical thinking.  


I had the opportunity to take this concept and present this project l to 4th-year History teacher students at the University of Pretoria as an innovative way to teach students historical thinking where they themselves had to create their own lessons.


An online field Trip dealing with Arab Israeli Nationalism


Student reflections

The vision

Overall the students' feedback was positive and they felt better prepared to identify biased and fake news indicators going forward, both within historical sources and modern news.

Student reflections

Technology used

The vision

HARDWARE: Chromebooks

SOFTWARE: Google Cardboard, Google Expeditions, Google Streetview, Google Tour Builder

Technology used

What's next?

The vision

I would love for my students to make a short documentary about one of the topics. Not only will they have to use historical thinking skills but also use 21st-century skills like the 4Cs’, including a focus on video editing and acting.

Closing thoughts

The vision

"Be the change you wish to see in the world."

- Mahatma Gandhi

Want to learn more about PBL? 

Hop over to LaunchPad and complete our SACE-accredited Place-based Learning and Becoming a Learning Architect courses. 

Or bring us to your school or join us online for our Extreme Project Makeover or Breaking Down the Silos workshops.