How we created an anti-racist curriculum that could transform the future of teaching

Head of Yusuf Ibrahim
Yusuf Ibrahim

Wales’ innovative anti-racist curriculum aims to shape the world positively and break down barriers through the use of digital.

Students try out virtual reality headsets.

Wales has a vision to become an anti-racist nation by 2030. As part of this vision, in 2020, the Welsh Government challenged us at Cardiff and Vale College (CaVC) to create an anti-racist curriculum for further education (FE). This was an exciting opportunity to make a difference.

The original brief was to create a series of e-learning modules, and we were given a generous budget of a million pounds to fund the project. But what does a million-pound curriculum look like? The main thing for me was that it had to be based on lived experience and, when assembling our project team, they fully agreed.

Our team is deliberately diverse in terms of both background and experience, but the one thing we all have in common is our desire to create an authentic and engaging anti-racism curriculum. From our team of 60 expert panellists, content builders, steering group members and lecturers, 42 have lived experience of racism. But that also means that 30% of our team are allies, which is equally important.

For a million pounds you would also expect the end product to be exceptional and cutting-edge.

For a million pounds you would also expect the end product to be exceptional and cutting-edge. So we set out to create an immersive experience, using both virtual and augmented reality, rich with details and inspiring information. We put a proposal out to tender and were blown away by MX Reality’s concept of creating a virtual world where learners can interact and learn about anti-racism collaboratively.

Balanced history and lived experiences in a virtual world

Within the immersive world users can explore and develop their own curiosity within five areas.

The central courtyard brings together history, culture and identity and allows the user to interact with key figures such as Nelson Mandela and Betty Campbell, Wales’ first black headteacher.

Another section is designed to look like a typical Welsh street comprising six different houses, each with a resident who has their own personal story. The houses have been designed with the resident in mind to help bring their individual lived experiences of racism to life. They are designed in different styles and contain items that are meaningful to the individual’s story. Users are encouraged to ask questions and click on items in the room to see why they are significant. These details, similar to a game, make the experience truly authentic and immersive.

There are also augmented reality options, such as an area where you can discover different hair types and makeup styles, or even make Lewis Latimer’s desk appear in your own room and explore the artefacts on it. Latimer was a contemporary of Thomas Edison and invented the carbon filament light bulb (the product most like the lightbulbs we use today which lasted hours, even days, in comparison to Edison’s invention which lasted mere seconds). It is his story that defined how we approached this project.

We are especially proud of the world timeline, where users travel through a time tunnel with over 100 hours of global-centric historical content, from ancient history to modern-day.

We are especially proud of the world timeline, where users travel through a time tunnel with over 100 hours of global-centric historical content.

Filtering or ‘washing’ history has a profound impact on the design of our curricula, which in turn shapes what our learners believe to be true. It affects our collective understanding of the worth and value of different global cultures, which is why we have placed such importance on sharing a balanced and engaging version of global history. We have even used a form of animation which is so advanced that we only had the budget to use it in one section (a video on calendars) - but it is one of my favourite components.

The whole experience is designed to make the user feel more rounded in their view of the world. We have also developed e-modules as per the original brief, but they are beautifully made. You can expect to learn about feminism from an anti-racist perspective and African philosophy, to name but two topics.

Beyond the pilot

Although this project was designed for FE in Wales, we have had visitors from Toronto, Ghana, Australia and all over the world. The whole project carries such an important message, and we think it is delivered in the most engaging, up-to-date and inspiring way possible.

There are not many educational tools that make people say ‘wow’ - and I said from the start that if it is not jaw-droppingly good, then we have failed. We have certainly impressed our visitors so far.

Our next step is to train FE staff across Wales to use the platform. Beyond that, we hope that our anti-racist curriculum will not only educate and empower our learners, but also inspire other educators to create their own innovative and inclusive curricula that could change the world for the better.

Watch this space.

More information

Cardiff and Vale College are finalists in the 2024 Jisc Sponsored AoC Beacon Award category for the effective use of digital technology in further education. Winners will be announced on Tuesday 27 February.

About the author

Head of Yusuf Ibrahim
Yusuf Ibrahim
Assistant principal, Cardiff and Vale College