English Heritage was keen to provide a resource that combined printed-based materials with an interactive CD-ROM and web-based activities that would enable students to gain a deeper insight and understanding of what it was like to live in a past age. They asked TAG Developments to come up with ideas on how this could be achieved, and by consulting with former and practising teachers, TAG Developments conceptualised, developed and delivered a range of three Digital Time Traveller resources, each focused on a different aspect of popular historical study in UK schools – Castles, the Romans and the Victorians. Each resource consisted of three key elements and is currently available in the bookshops of English Heritage shops:
- A colourfully illustrated book, containing facts and information about the subject matter being studied;
- A range of engaging interactive resources and activities, delivered via CD-ROM, that enabled the children to gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter;
- A further range of resources and activities, delivered via a web-site, which provided extension activities and a constantly updated source of new resources and materials for the children and their teachers to explore.
The formats used to deliver these resources allowed for the full engagement of the students in what could otherwise have been perceived as dull areas of study. TAG Developments used the then cutting edge technology of 3D Virtual Reality to allow children to explore a range of actual historical sites, ranging from Dover Castle to a railwayman’s cottage in Swindon. The use of this technology allowed equal access to these places, and facilitated greater and more detailed exploration of the sites than would actually have been possible if the site had been visited physically by the children. In 2001, English Heritage secured EU funding to extend this project, and thus asked TAG Developments to develop an interactive experience for pupils visiting an historic Roman Villa in Kent called Lullingstone Villa. For this project, pupils visiting the site were given digital cameras (supplied by TAG), and then followed a physical trail through the site. At varying stages of their tour, the children were invited to capture digital photos and videos in response to a series of quests and tasks. Once the visit was completed, the pupils were able to download their digital evidence which was automatically then available to them in an online portfolio about their visit (specific to each school that had visited) that they could then access when back at school. TAG Developments developed all interactive and online components for this Lullingstone Villa project.