NYC Media Lab & Verizon celebrate Black History Month, spotlighting AR/VR edtech apps that teach and highlight Black experiences through K-12 subjects

In 2018, the NYC Media Lab partnered with Verizon to launch the 5G EdTech Challenge—an initiative that called on app teams to create transformative augmented reality and virtual reality edtech apps which leverage 5G connectivity. Fast forward to today where over a dozen immersive edtech apps now live on Verizon Innovative Learning HQ—the free and publicly available online education portal that brings next-gen learning to all.

And we’re thrilled to celebrate Black History Month by spotlighting the following edtech apps that teach and highlight Black experiences via K-12 subject matter, ranging from history and music to social studies and geography:

Kinfolk (AR app): The vast majority of monuments and historical narratives in the US uplift a Eurocentric version of history. The Kinfolk AR mobile app serves as an interactive archive for undertold historical narratives, featuring a catalog of AR experiences that depict important moments from Black history. Teachers can use Kinfolk to bring these stories to life in an engaging way that allows students to dive deep. In celebration of Black History Month, Kinfolk has created 20 original lesson plans that highlight “Afrofuturism, Black Futures + Enclaves.” Download this expansive (and free) curriculum for grades 6-12 via Verizon Innovative Learning HQ.

GRX Arts, Beats and Tech (VR app): This collaborative experience, available on desktop and in VR, adds STEAM-aligned fun to the classroom by offering students the chance to build unique music tracks with beats, instruments, and spoken word, while exploring scientific concepts.

UNSUNG (AR app): Travel back in time and hear the untold stories of musicians with UNSUNG. This multiplayer learning experience introduces students to historical singers of color who rose above societal challenges to make their voices heard. Students explore the past, talk with people from those eras, share the facts they’ve learned, and preserve history. The current version features legendary entertainer Florence Mills and American jazz trumpeter Tiny Davis.

Mapper’s Delight (AR app): This interactive, multiplayer AR experience invites students to explore the geography of language using the Rap Almanac, a database containing lyrics from nearly one million transcripts. Through data mapping and visualization, students discover how expansive the genre's vocabulary can be, as rappers cover the globe with references to cities, neighborhoods, and regions.

Note: To access the apps and resources referenced above, simply create a free VIL HQ account.