Virtual reality technology incorporated into annual archivists’ conference held at Purdue Polytechnic

Professional archivists at ALI @ Purdue in June 2019

Twenty select professional archivists from throughout the United States converged on the Purdue campus June 9–15 for the 2019 Archives Leadership Institute (ALI). Dubbed “ALI @ Purdue,” the annual event cultivates leaders in the archives profession.

Archivists are typically responsible for preserving printed material, but this year’s event, held at the Purdue Polytechnic Institute, had a more high-tech feel. Mesut Akdere, associate professor of human resource development (HRD), director of HRD Virtual Lab, and the director of ALI @ Purdue, incorporated virtual reality technology into the convention as another means of training the archivists, giving them the knowledge and tools to transform the profession in practice, theory and technology.

“This is really about incorporating future learning technology into the leadership development training field of archives,” Akdere said of the project. “Virtual reality provides interactive, immersive experiences that support the development of trainees’ cognitive abilities.”

Akdere highlighted various capacity enhancement opportunities associated with the ground-breaking use of virtual reality technology, which allowed ALI trainee archivists to conduct various workshops in their respective institutions. Trainees also learned how to develop and share their own virtual reality training simulations.

“Our leadership development program that uses a virtual reality environment has the potential to create a powerful cascade effect, making it possible for even more archivists to learn, transform and share their work,” said Akdere.

The virtual reality simulations developed at ALI @ Purdue will be showcased this August, during the alumni dinner and workshop held at the Society of American Archivists’ annual meeting in Austin, Texas.

The ALI @ Purdue was funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), a statutory body affiliated with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), located in College Park, Md.

Archives Leadership Institute

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