A portait of a woman from the chest up standing in front of a bookshelf.
Kai Frazier, who graduated from VCU with a bachelor’s degree in history, founded Kai XR, a metaverse platform for educating children. (Contributed photo)

VCU alum Kai Frazier brings the world to students through virtual field trips

Combining her background in teaching and museum work, 2008 history graduate broadens access for youths to immerse themselves in life-changing learning.

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Kai Frazier thought about where she would sleep, not about the future, when she was unhoused in high school. The concept of one day leading a metaverse platform that engages students nationwide through virtual reality wasn’t even a consideration.

Frazier, a native of Chesapeake now living in California, started her company, Kai XR after teaching history in Manassas Park and then working in digital content and strategy at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

In the shift from teaching history to working with eyewitnesses to history, she interviewed a wide range of people, from survivors of the genocide in Rwanda to actor and producer Samuel L. Jackson.

“It was a joy to stretch my degree and to sit with culture makers of the world and listen to their stories,” said Frazier, who in 2008 earned her history degree from Virginia Commonwealth University’s College of Humanities and Sciences. “I became a history storyteller for digital consumption.”

She had the opportunity to interview one of her heroes, the late Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, several times. She had read his autobiography, “Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement,” in high school.

“That was a full-circle moment for me,” Frazier said. “It was a dream to interview him.”

A photo of a man and a woman sitting at a table shaking eachother's hands. Behind them another man and women are also standing in the room.
Kai Frazier interviewed Rep. John Lewis on behalf of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. (Contributed photo)

High-value visits and low-cost opportunities

During her years at the museums, Frazier began thinking about how virtual or digital field trips could be distributed to schools. As a teacher, she worked in schools that lacked the money and resources to take trips, and as a result, her students would fall behind.

She recognized that many schools, especially those in low-income areas or digital deserts, have the same issue. A study by the U.S. Travel Association found that children who take school trips are 95% more likely to graduate from high school.

“School trips dramatically change their outlook on life,” said Frazier, whose mission is to bridge the technology gap for underserved schools.

Her solution was to film the museums in virtual reality and offer virtual field trips to increase access for students.

“With mobile VR, students can put a smartphone into a cardboard VR headset. Students could use the phones they have. It is a low-cost or no-cost solution for schools,” Frazier said.

But she wanted to take the concept further, and she founded Kai XR, a learning platform that also introduces students to in-demand technologies at an early age. It offers engaging lessons featuring virtual field trips, metaverse makerspaces and more, and the company works with schools, STEAM programs and organizations such as T-Mobile. Many of Kai XR’s clients are in the East and Southeast, particularly in Georgia and Alabama.

Kai XR offers resources that can meet a school district’s instructional standards as well as a wide variety of topics that allow students to learn in an immersive way. Through the platform, students gain a deeper understanding of their lessons, resulting in increased classroom engagement.

A photo of two women sitting in chairs on a stage.
Kai Frazier speaks at the Sloss Tech Conference in Birmingham, Alabama. (Contributed photo)

“Kai XR improves digital literacy by introducing students eighth-grade and younger to metaverse technologies. This early introduction gives students traditionally stuck in the digital divide a head start for the future,” Frazier said.

One virtual trip takes students into the lab of biochemist Jennifer Doudna, co-winner of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her work on the CRISPR system of gene editing.

“Many students have never seen the inside of a science lab,” Frazier said. “We created this virtual field trip to expose students to a new career while empowering them to make a difference in the world of science.”

Often, she will visit classrooms that use Kai XR. On some visits, she will co-teach a class.

“As a teacher, I am very much interested in learning how to support other teachers,” Frazier said. “I like to see how students are responding to the product, as well as learn about opportunities to improve our offerings.”

Becoming part of the community at VCU

Frazier didn’t have aspirations to go to college until a family friend took her in while she was unhoused in high school.

A photo of a student posing with a tablet
A student uses the Kai XR platform in Birmingham, Alabama. (Contributed photo)

“They were very kind to give me a shot,” she said. “I credit them for putting me on a path to avoid being a victim of my circumstances.”

Frazier chose VCU because of its city atmosphere, and after struggling initially to make connections, she became a resident adviser and expanded her network.

“I also went on to become president of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority,” she said. “I enjoyed being able to give back while working with diverse communities.”

Frazier settled on history as her major, which also guided her to a career path that began in the classroom.

“I wanted to teach so I could help out students with difficult or challenging backgrounds like myself,” Frazier said, and her ongoing goal is “to give students the tools they need to know they can accomplish anything in life.”