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Technology invigorates history
Faculty grant to enhance national park interpretation
Friday, Jan. 8, 2010
By Brenda Alling, WSU Vancouver
VANCOUVER - A faculty member is applying 21st-century technology to help visitors better understand and appreciate the 19th-century Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.
Brett Oppegaard, a professor in WSU Vancouver’s Digital Technology and Culture program, recently has been awarded a $9,000 grant from the Historical Promotion Grants Program to produce multimedia content for mobile technology for the national park.
That means the 800,000 people who visit the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site each year will be able to supplement the brochures and interpretive signage they rely on to understand the significance of the site with educational, entertaining, historically based multimedia content. That content will be available via cell phones as early as fall 2010.
Oppegaard also is a doctoral student working on a dissertation related to mobile storytelling. His project aims to reveal the power new technologies have in promoting cultural tourism, historical preservation and audience engagement. Using mobile technology, he can deliver richer, more in-depth, thought-provoking content than the typical interpretive sign.
National Park Service photo
Oppegaard’s work will focus on the outer ring of the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site called “the village.” Here people from more than 35 ethnic and tribal groups lived together in support of the fort, which operated as an economic and cultural center for the entire region.
He hopes to enlighten visitors about the rich history of the village by focusing on peoples and communities that have often been overlooked in traditional historical discussions.
Oppegaard has gathered collaborators over the last several months, including staff at the site, photographers, videographers and WSU Vancouver students. He is contributing 120 hours of his own time as project coordinator.