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Museums and Education

AR/VR Workshop for K-12 Leaders at Harvard 


  • Harvard offered week of training for 167 principals and leaders in K-12 eduction.  Dr. Christopher Dede leads the program and he hired me to organize a half-day workshop on  VR and AR for education on July 11th. 

  • I got twelve organizations who deal in educational VR & AR to demonstrate their works.  Generally helped set the agenda. 

  • Feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive.  

Participant and Co-Organizer, Workshop on VR in Education, Harvard 

2016 – 2017   

Chris Dede, Professor at Harvard 

"Dr. Jacobson is one of the top experts in the world on VR and learning. He regularly serves as a guest expert on this topic for my courses at Harvard University. Jeff is a very effective and personable speaker who is a terrific resource for our students."

Vari House: Live Digital Puppet for tour of an Ancient Greek House


  • Vari House is Dr. Donald Sanders’s simulation of a Greek farmhouse in ancient times. Worked with the customer and developed design requirements for the digital puppet.

  • Supervised the programmer, puppeteer, and artist as we implemented Dr. Sanders's vision. We based Vari House on the Egyptian Oracle project.

  • I designed the spatial interactions between the puppet and the audience, illustrating several "modes" for the puppet.

  • For details, see the paper:

Egyptian Oracle Performance

2009 - 2013  

  • A mixed reality performance of an ancient Egyptian public ceremony by projecting an ancient temple and a digital “puppet,” a Priest, onto a wall. The character was controlled by a live puppeteer and interacted with a live actress and the audience.

  • Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities on a grant I wrote in 2009.

  • We gave performances at schools and museums to teach the public about ancient Egypt’s tradition of religious theater, an important precursor to our modern theater as well as Christian ceremony. The other purpose was to show that projection-based mixed reality was now powerful and affordable. 

  • I managed a diverse team, consisting of a puppeteer, a programmer, an animator, an artist, digital theater experts, an Egyptologist, an actress, several advisors and other helpers. We delivered on time and on budget and added to it, later on.  

  • For details, see: or get the book

The Living Forest

2011 – 2013    

  • Dr. Annette Schloss at the Complex System Research Center (UNH) needed a technology partner for her application for funding to the National Science Foundation.

  • The proposal was to create a virtual field trip for K-12 students using a digital dome display. The goal was to give the teacher the ability to bring the students through the forest where they could spot certain trees, listen for animals, and see the forest at different growth stages and different seasons.

  • In 2012 our grant application was approved from a highly competitive field of educational science proposals. 

  • Our experiments were successful as reported in two published research papers. 

  • Tools:  Unity, C#, 3DS Maxx, Photoshop

  • Team:  Jacobson (management, UX design, system integration), and many others.

  • For details see:

Museum Tours of the Virtual Egyptian Temple

2014    Connecticut Science Center, Hartford, CT (2014)

2004 - 2010  Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, PA

  • Both museums have an important collection of Egyptian artifacts they wished to elaborate for the public.

  • For each museum, we provided a 3D model of an Egyptian Temple. which I installed in each museum’s immersive digital theater. Then I trained their staff to give tours and connect the features of the temple with the artifacts in the collection. 

  • For the Carnegie Museum, I created an internship program with a local technical school for students to produce virtual artifacts to put into the virtual temple, including some duplicates of objects in the physical collection. 

  • Audience response was enthusiastic, and both museums kept a tour of the temple as part of their Ancient Egypt tour.  See: 

Strategic and Technical Advisor for New VR Lab at Curtin University

2013  working with Dr. Erik Champion

  • Advised Curtin University in Perth, Australia on educational and cultural history programming in their new VR lab. 

Architecture in VR; Does Visual Immersion Really Aid Learning?

2004 – 2008

  • For my Ph.D. dissertation project, I tested whether virtual reality could enhance learning. Its value for training had been long established, but there had been almost no empirical studies of how it could be leveraged for schools or museums.

  • I led a team that created an educational game based on an Egyptian temple with an artificially intelligent Priest character. The game could be played on a desktop PC or a digital dome (Earth Theater at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History). 

  • I designed the logic and the dialogue for the AI Priest, the structure of the game, the experimental design, and all of the test instruments (quizzes, maps, etc.) The team also included two programmers, an education expert, a 3D environment artist, an Egyptologist, and many helpers and advisors. I hired and supervised them all and tracked all aspects of the system integration.

  • Tools:  Unreal Engine, C++, SVN, CaveUT.

  • Students who played the game in the VR (the dome) learned more, one of the first studies like it. See

  • For more information, see:

The Pompeii Project 

1995 - 2010   

  • An historically accurate reconstruction of the Theater District in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii, in Unity format. Intended for use by museums, educators, and historians.

  • It is based on an earlier effort at the Studio for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University, the Pompeii Project, for which I was also the project and technical manager. The complete model was shown at the de Young Museum, San Francisco, California from August, 1995, to January, 1996. It was a key moment in the history of VR, showing one way it could be used for artistic and cultural purposes. 

  • Later, when I led the team that developed the VRML version, it was shown at the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center, from January to June, 2007. Since that time, we have been developing it through multiple versions, also as a tool for experimentation.

  • Tools:  Unreal Engine, Unity, C#, VRML, Java, CaveUT. 

  • The project has a long history, many contributors, and publications.  For details, see

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