By Erica Williams
A BYU religion professor plans to use a new software program in his classes this spring to increase students” understanding of the Doctrine and Covenants.
Dennis Wright, professor of church history and doctrine, said the Virtual Historian is an excellent resource for students who want a more in-depth learning experience.
“When the student goes into Virtual Historian they immediately see the actual Doctrine and Covenants scriptures,” Wright said. “And then throughout the scriptures are highlighted words and phrases that are clickable and allow them to go to images, biographies, historical timelines or maps that relate to that particular section.”
The program includes more than 100 virtual reality photographs of church historical sites.
By clicking and dragging the mouse, students can move within the various rooms of buildings, such as the John Johnson farm.
Wright said students can follow links to biographical sketches of prominent church figures and learn facts about their families and the roles they played in the Restoration.
They can view detailed maps and corresponding timelines as well.
The program also features historical commentary from “Revelations of the Restoration,” a book by Joseph Fielding McConkie and BYU professor Craig Ostler.
“The Virtual Historian is strictly a historian,” Wright said. “It does not teach doctrine, and it does not explain what the scriptures mean. It simply provides the useful background information that students need in order to understand the context of the revelations.”
The software is not a requirement for Wright”s class. However, he said it is a nice supplement and will be available in the Bookstore for students who want to purchase it.
“The students will come better prepared to discussions about the Doctrine and Covenants,” he said. “They will be familiar with the people, the places and the events associated with the revelations.”
Virtual Historian is produced by Blue Mango Multimedia, a software group based in southern California. The company is not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Wright said the university had originally planned to produce its own software program. However, administration leaders changed their minds when they discovered an effective product had already been created.
“When we saw the Virtual Historian, the decision was very quickly made to not commit university resources, but rather to use what was already available and had been done by faithful members of the church,” Wright said.