Using Avatars to Make History Real: Reliving the “Dirty Wars” in Chile and Argentina

Saturday, January 9, 2016: 10:20 AM
Grand Hall D (Hyatt Regency Atlanta)
Steven S. Volk, Oberlin College
For the past 4 years, I have developed an avatar project that allows my intermediate history students to place themselves within the tumultuous events that took place in Chile and Argentina between 1960 and the present time. While students randomly select slips of paper that provide them with some basic demographics (birth date, gender, city, parents’ occupations, etc.), they create their own avatars, giving them names, and posting as to their thoughts and activities on specific dates that span the historical period we are studying. Both I, and the three different sets of students who have experienced this project, have found the process to be deeply moving, very involving, and highly challenging. It has helped students develop research skills, come to a greater understanding of empathy, cope with ambiguity, and, above all, come to appreciate the reality of the past.
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