Train to Be a Citizen Explorer
and Build a Resilient Future for Travel

Eligible Cities: Darjeeling, Bengaluru, Bhopal, Kochi, Hyderabad, Imphal, Dharamshala Colombo, Dhaka (applicants must be long-term residents of these cities)
Format: Online
Application Deadline: 15th January 2022 (11:59pm US-Eastern) | Application Fee: US$ 3

COVID-19 has now opened avenues for people to dive deeper into cultures across the globe, starting with their neighbourhoods and backyards. Many of us have found solace in the immeasurable power of stories to engage our imaginations as we stroll down a familiar path. At Immersive Trails, we've been doing this ethically in Kolkata, unearthing stories based in research and facts.

In our bid to expand beyond Kolkata, we are introducing our training program, to equip participants with the know-how to use their interest in culture, heritage and history and create experiences that will make their local community or other research interests accessible to a global public. In turn, these experiences will generate income that is not subject to the ebb and flow of tourism in the post-Covid19 era - allowing them to receive a steady flow of revenue from their curations. 

The 6-week course includes training on entrepreneurial skills, research methods and ethics, the practical aspects of creating experiences, and the art of engagement and promotion through social media. Also included is access to the Immersive Trails experience platform, where you will be able to market your creations, and a year-long mentorship from the Immersive Trails team to get your first three experiences completed and uploaded. We expect our virtual experience platform to become the global leader over the next few years, and this is your opportunity to become a part of that journey.


The Professional Development Program Includes:

- Training in entrepreneurial skills, research methods, ethics and ethnography
- Training on how to use equipment and software to conceptualize and create innovative experiences
- How to translate experiences from physical to virtual media
- Guidance on how to create informative and engaging content on social media for marketing and promotional purposes
- The chance for participants to partner with us and host experiences on our platform, including a one-year mentorship to help participants create their first 3 experiences

Application Eligibility:

- A background in History, Heritage, Social Sciences, Arts & Humanities, Archaeology, Architecture, Tourism and related fields or relevant professional experience in any of the fields *(preferred but not necessary)*
- Those without any academic or professional background are preferred to have a concept/idea of one or more experiences in mind before applying
- A passion or interest in conducting historical, archival, and on-ground research
- Basic knowledge of using the internet and related software for research and presentation purposes
- A long-term plan to continue using or creating virtual experiences in the future

- If you have previously worked for a experience curation company, please note that you are NOT eligible to apply for this program.

Application Requirements:

- Current CV (Not Resume)
- A Statement of Purpose (SOP) stating your background, interests, and why you would like to be a part of the training program (500 words minimum)
- A separate statement in which you answer the following question (250 words minimum):
If you choose to establish a social enterprise in the future, would you choose a for-profit or a non-profit model and why?
- An introductory pitch of an experience or a selected research topic *(optional)*

Program Fee: Pay What You Can Afford

Please note: All selected participants will be required to create at least 3 Immersive Trails-quality in-person and recorded virtual experiences exclusively for the Immersive Trails platform within 1 year of completion of the program and continue providing these experiences via Immersive Trails platform for at least 3 years after the end of the programme. Mentorship will be provided, and the majority of the profits from these experiences will be shared with the participants.

Program Duration and Timeline:

Week 1 (Participants: 8.5 hours)

Introductory week to set the context for the rest of the program, including a virtual experience and masterclasses on conceptualization.

- Ice-breaker and Introductory Session: The Immersive Trails Story (2 hours)

How did two academics become entrepreneurs? What does Immersive Trails do, and why?

- Masterclass: Why's and how's of creating an ethical purpose-driven company/initiative (1.5 hours)

What do we mean by "ethics"? Can for-profit initiatives be ethical? How do you find a purpose, and how do you choose the format of your initiative/company?

- One Virtual Experience by Immersive Trails including discussions (3 hours)

How can you use a virtual medium for place-based storytelling? What goes into a virtual experience?

- Masterclass: Virtual Experiences vs. Physical Experiences - Conceptualizing a Virtual Experience (2 hours)

What can become a virtual experience? How do you come up with a narrative and a theme? What are the differences between virtual experiences and physical walking tours?

Week 2 (Participants: 5 hours)

Research week to orient the participants towards using a variety of methodologies to gather information.

- Masterclass: Archival Research Methods (1.5 hours)

What should you look for in written and archival sources? How do you locate such sources, and how should they be interpreted?

- Masterclass: Survey Research Methods (1.5 hours)

What is a survey, and why should we understand how space is used? How can we use maps and other visual material to understand spaces? How can we use survey data in virtual experiences?

- Masterclass: Contextualizing the Community and Ethics (2 hours)

What are ethics, and how can you make ethical decisions when doing research for a virtual experience? Who do we consider to be part of a community, and how can we center their voice and experiences in everything we do? What do we do when archival and survey research contradicts what the community tells us?

Week 3 (Participants: 4.5 hours)

Creation week where the participants will be taught how to create a virtual experience for the information gathered.

- How to use an experience development checklist (1.5 hours)

What theoretical, methodological, and practical considerations are important to keep in mind when creating a virtual experience? How can we address ethical and other concerns?

- Masterclass: Recording for a Virtual Experience (1 hour)

What kinds of materials are needed to create an immersive virtual experience? What equipment is needed to record and compile this information, and how can it be organized? How should certain kinds of materials (videos, photos, etc.) be prepared for use in a virtual experience.

- Masterclass: Editing photos (1 hour)

What programs and techniques should you use to edit photographs for a virtual experience? 

- Masterclass: Editing videos (1 hour)

What programs and techniques should you use to edit videos for a virtual experience?

- Participants will start working on their individual Virtual Experiences

Week 4 (Participants: 1.5 hours+)

Storytelling week to learn how to create a story. This week the participants will also start sharing work on their own experience.

- Masterclass: Telling a Story (1.5 hours)

How can different kinds of stories be told most effectively? How do you make archival and other data into engaging storytelling? 

- Office Hours for Q & A (TBD)

- Short presentations of chosen topics and Virtual Experience ideas (<10 mins), with feedback from other participants (TBD)

Week 5 (Participants: 3.5 hours)

Marketing week to learn how to put the virtual experience out in the world.

- Masterclass: Building an engaging Website (1.5 hours)

What are the available platforms in which you can build a website? What makes a website attractive and engaging?

- Masterclass: Creating engaging Social Media content (1 hours)

How can you use social media to spread awareness of historical and cultural topics? How can you make stories engaging on different kinds of social media platforms?

- Masterclass: Using Social Media to promote Virtual Experiences (1 hours)

How can you use social media to promote your virtual experience? How does ethical social media marketing work? 

- Participants to continue working on individual Virtual Experiences

Week 6 (TBD)

Experiences week where the participants share their virtual experiences and receive peer and expert feedback.

- Participants will finish creating their final Virtual Experience presentations
- Individual presentations of Virtual Experiences including 40 minutes of presentation time and 20 minutes of feedback and discussion with the panel and other participants
- Selected participants will have a chance to present a taster of their Virtual Experience to a live audience on social media

Professional Outcomes:

1. Build a foundation of conducting ethical research using multiple methods to create immersive virtual experiences that focus on storytelling. This will include materials that will help guide you in the future. 

2. Obtain the opportunity to create and curate immersive virtual experiences for the Immersive Trails platform, with at least one year of mentorship from the Immersive Trails team and profit-sharing based on the experiences curated.

3. Share unique aspects of the history and culture in your own backyard with a global audience, while making a supplementary income. 

4. Learn the basics of being a Social Entrepreneur and establishing a self-sufficient purpose-driven initiative. 

5. Be at the forefront of the future of travel by cultivating your digital resilience. 

6. Connect with a new global network of storytellers in the fields of art, culture, and history that will potentially offer further training, discussion sessions, and mentorship.

7. Obtain a "Trained by Immersive Trails" badge to use in your business or freelance work as an experience curator to stay ahead in the market.

Important Dates: 

Applications Open: 12 December 2021

Application Deadline:  15 January 2022 (11:59pm US-Eastern Time)

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