September 28, 2022

Hankering for History

Hanker: To have a strong, often restless desire, in this case for–you guessed it–history!

Global Pandemics: Plague of Athens

3 min read
history adventures global pandemic

Cutting-Edge Digital Learning Design

Introducing Global Pandemics: a cutting-edge, browser-based, digital learning experience—designed to enhance student understanding of the role of pandemics in world history. One year in the making, and involving a talented, interdisciplinary team from around the world—the new product features cutting-edge digital learning design, web animation, interaction design, and digital storytelling.   

Global Pandemics explores five major pandemics in world history:

Global PandemicRegionTime Period
The Plague of AthensClassical Greece5th C BCE
The Black DeathEurope, Asia14th C
SmallpoxEmpire of Anahuac (Mexico-day Mexico)16th C
The Spanish FluWestern Front, Global1918-1920
HIV/AIDsGlobal1980s-present

Chapter 1: “To Do No Harm” tells the story of Nikos of Athens, a physician during the Plague of Athens, 429 BCE, who struggles to treat the multitude who fall ill during this world-upending ordeal, causing him to question everything he holds dear, from his faith in Apollo, healer under the gods, to the meaning of his Hippocratic Oath, and what is truly at stake in medical ethics. 

The Global Pandemics prototype consists of over 50 uniquely designed, animated web pages featuring over 2 hours of engaging, rewarding learning material for students to explore. The product combines digital storytelling with interactive learning design to craft a rich, complex pedagogical experience that immerses students in the power of story—narrativizing the experiences of diverse people, around the globe, who lived through history’s worst pandemics—interwoven with rich, multimodal learning content.  

Historical Context for COVID-19

Global Pandemics provides historical context for students about the challenges COVID-19 has presented to people around the world. The design of Global Pandemics is positioned at the nexus of innovative pedagogical, theoretical, and technological practices—including narrative studies, multimodal literacies, and game-based learning research. Synthesizing the best of history games, visual learning, interactive textbooks, and history apps, Global Pandemics introduces novel features, design elements, and affordances—demonstrating the effectiveness of applied educational research to enhance learning outcomes. The central question posed is whether—and to what degree—the innovative digital learning design of Global Pandemics will result in a measurable increase in student interest, engagement, and understanding of key concepts in epidemiology as well as the role of pandemics in world history. A secondary question is how to iterate product design to improve engagement and successful learning outcome metrics even further. 

Meaningful Choice and Multimodal Literacies

Building on a rich tradition of digital media and learning research, Global Pandemics immerses and engages students through meaningful choice and multimodal interaction design; provide systems-based interpretations that emphasize complexity, interdependencies, and causal connections; played out within a problem space that encourages students to perceive connections between past and present—making that understanding more visceral, tangible, and real—and in the process sparking enthusiasm for learning about the past. 

Global Pandemics offers an  innovative solution for engaging millennial students and inspiring curiosity for learning about history. This browser-based digital learning experience introduces multiple novel technologies, including: 

  • 3D Motion Design to Recreate History
  • Advanced Web Animation to Simulate Pathogens
  • Immersive 360 Panoramas of Historical Locations
  • Animated Historical Timeline & Maps
  • Choice-based Narrative Design
  • Interactive Original Historical Documents
  • Media-Rich Adaptive Assessments

Global Pandemics: Plague of Athens (for desktop Chrome browser) is available now, for free, for students and teachers around the world at the following URL: https://pandemics.historyadventures.app 

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