All photos via: Kai Frazier
Kai Frazier is a former teacher turned tech entrepreneur who is on a mission to change the way history is taught in the classroom through her virtual reality platform Curated x Kai.
After teaching in the D.C. metro area for 15 years, Frazier went on to work at local history museums. It was through these professional experiences where her eyes were opened up to the opportunity gap many minority students face when it comes to learning history.
"My students who I taught right outside of D.C. couldn't afford to take a field trip to the museums," Frazier tells Because of Them We Can. "And the museums I worked at didn’t have outreach programs for the kids who I taught. So I tried to find a way to stand in that gap and that is how I came up with these virtual reality field trips so the students can have context of what they're learning in the classroom."
The way it works is teachers can use Curated x Kai video footage to take their students on a virtual reality field trip to a monument or museum they are talking about. For example, Frazier says if a teacher is doing a civil rights curriculum they can take their students to the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial in D.C. via Curated x Kai’s platform. This way, the students feel as though they have experienced the memorial in real life and they have greater context of the lesson they're learning.
"A lot of times in history, teachers don't have the resources to fully touch on diverse topics. So we are making sure we go through and find diverse history,” explains Frazier. "My students now of a Hispanic background always wonder where they are in history and so it's important that I cover the inclusiveness of history so that they know they come from greatness."
In addition to touching kids who are in the classroom, Frazier says her goal is to also reach students who have been suspended from school to ensure that their learning doesn't stop.
"One of my biggest frustrations is that kids will get suspended and be gone for 10 days and they will miss all of this information," she says. "So, we are even looking at kids who are not in school because we know that a lot of Black and brown kids are disproportionately suspended from school, especially in the South, and it affects them."
This November, Curated x Kai will hit its one year mark and will make its virtual reality field trips available to the public so that teachers across the world can have access to its product. So far, Frazier says, the product has been tested at her previous school right outside of D.C. and in a few local classrooms in Oakland, California where she is currently located.
Once Curated x Kai is made available to the public, Frazier says the platform will work similar to YouTube where anyone with a 360 degree camera can upload their video so that a local museum or monument in their area can be seen by students all over the world. She explains that the platform will run with a subscription-based program where users currently have free access to product subscriptions until 2019. After that, they will be charged with a small monthly fee.
"One of my big things for doing this and including museums is because we only have four percent of Blacks working in museums, which means we aren't even helping to curate our culture," says Frazier. "I'm hoping that students in the classroom can now have content that represents them and their world. A lot of kid’s comprehension is low in the classroom because they have no context. They don't see them and I’m hoping students can stop asking where am I in the text book because we can now show them."