University of Dallas (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Pages: 5048-5058
ISBN: 978-84-616-2661-8
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 7th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 4-5 March, 2013
Location: Valencia, Spain
Rome is a city with multiple layers of art, architecture, history and literary traditions. In order for study abroad students to experience this multiplicity and gain insightful knowledge, both PowerPoint lectures and electronic forums are useful.
As an art history graduate student studying in Rome in the late twentieth century, I spent every day in the field looking at art and architecture. I would read the text the night before an excursion. This gave me firsthand knowledge of the city, but left me wanting to learn more. The depth of information exchanged during on-site visits is limited by the physical environment: auditory and visual distractions, difficulty in viewing specific objects, monuments covered by scaffolds or closed for repairs. In Rome, students can see parts of the ancient forum, or walk into a Baroque church, but they cannot experience how a building or artwork functioned during the time of its primary usage, nor can students be fully engaged in intellectual discourse while on-site. Their bodies maybe present, but their minds are not always there. When using virtual reality in the classroom, we can go beyond a tour-guide based modality of education. We can inspire students to ponder enduring questions: what is beauty? How have different ages answered this question? What is the relationship between humans and their natural world? How might this relationship have changed over time? Are there universals in human nature? What is good government? What is evil? Are there just wars? What is the good life, then and now? What has friendship meant to different cultures? How have various people explained the origins of the universe? After entertaining these ideas in class, students can ponder them as they go out into the field. They can continue these discussions using electronic forums.
As I prepared to teach a study-abroad course in Rome as a visiting assistant professor, I began to envision how technological tools such as PowerPoint, Blackboard, blogs, twitter and even web games, could all be used in combination with site visits. I realized that by including a virtual tour and discussion - before a site-visit – I could prepare students to see more, understand more and explore historical Rome in greater depth. And, by encouraging students to continue to discuss what they are seeing, reading and thinking on electronic forums - their knowledge base would grow exponentially. PowerPoint and the virtual environment cannot replace the actual world, but it does enhance it.
The city of Rome, with its legendary founding by Romulus in 753 B.C., its later Republican and Imperial governments, its Pagan and Christian foundations, stands as a testament to the rise and fall of civilizations. At the same time it is the embodiment of eternal ideals. Our contemporary world seems very different.
Students today are constantly online, using iphones, texting, tweeting and playing electronic games. Educators must reach them where they are. We need to take them to places they never dreamed of going with their technology… back in time to intellectually experience other cultures. By exploring how past communities have defined beauty, art, war, family, religion, politics, gender, architecture, pleasure, sacrifice and duty,… how they saw themselves in their own world…our students of today will come to know their place in history. They will be prepared to create a society that learns from the past, and propels knowledge into the future.
Virtual Classroom, PowerPoint, Rome, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical Antiquity, Civilization, Modern Technologies.