IWitness360 – The Power of Testimony and Virtual Reality


Source: USC Shoah Foundation


IWitness360 brings together individual testimonies and virtual reality (VR) film to promote empathy, among other positive educational outcomes. IWitness testimony-based activities and resources are effective in building the capacity for empathy, deepening learning, developing digital literacy skills and enhancing educational outcomes. Emerging VR research points to VR films as also having the potential to increase empathy. New IWitness360 activities are being developed to explore the combined power of testimony and VR to increase empathy and achieve other Social Emotional Learning outcomes.

Use of Testimony in Education

Our methodology consists of four core principles. All content and programming is:

Based on testimony and the universal cultural tool of story.

Tied to theory and research.

Associated with learning outcomes.

Flexible, accessible in multiple formats, and designed to be localized by educators.

Application of these principles engages students in dynamic multimedia learning experiences that promote understanding of history, sharpens critical thinking, enhances digital skills, builds their capacity for empathy and promotes motivation and interest in responsible citizenship in their communities.

A new addition to IWitness, IWitness360 combines educational immersive VR experiences with personal testimony to actively engage students with themes that cross the curriculum. Each VR experience will be supported by activities, resources and guidelines for bringing testimony-based VR into the classroom. It is expected that the Library of VR films will expand over time.

Lala, an animated and live action VR film developed by USC Shoah Foundation in partnership with Discovery Communications, Discovery Education, and Global Nomads Group, is based on the testimony of Holocaust survivor Roman Kent. About his beloved dog, Lala, the story demonstrates that even when human beings perpetrate the worst atrocities, “love is stronger than hate.”

Updated: Jul. 12, 2017