JAMESTOWN, Va. (WAVY) — A project, finished right before the pandemic started last year, now allows thousands of students across the country to virtually visit Jamestown thanks to expanded broadband access.
Mark Summers from Jamestown Rediscovery says the surprise success of the move cements the virtual programming as a regular option for schools.
“I honestly couldn’t have predicted how successful it was going to be and I’m really happy because it’s become so successful, that I want to keep it in the future,” he said.
With the completion in early 2020 of a project connecting historic Jamestowne to broadband access, students from around the world can now virtually visit the site where the country first started.
“The first customer we had was an American school in Paris, which was great because half the kids were French and half the kids were American,” said Summers. “Actually, the French kids had some of the best questions.”
Cox Business worked with archeologists on-site to bring the 400-year-old fort into the future, something employees on site say was a heavily anticipated desire.
“A couple schools couldn’t afford to come here,” said Summers. “I think there was one from Kansas and another one from Pittsburgh and we attempted to do a virtual program four, five years ago, and it would cut off.”
Employees say these virtual tours make history more accessible for schools on a budget, bringing in schools from Los Angeles and Detroit to the site.
The virtual tours also give more time for historians to share the story of Jamestown.
“It’s easier to do a field trip online because you don’t have to wait for children to go to the restroom,” said Summers. “You don’t have to wait for the gift shop. You can just start teaching and you actually have more time with the students.”
With their new broadband connection, those from Jamestown Rediscovery say they hope to continue to expand their virtual programming in the future to include more information on continued archeological digs at the historic fort.