Changing the Way We Teach the Ancient World

Engaged Learning Tools for Ancient World Classrooms

This project aims to transform the learning environment of undergraduates who take courses about the ancient world specifically, and humanities as a whole more generally, both at the University of Michigan and (potentially) across the globe.  The goal is to move students away from the traditional mode of history classes, in which they are mainly passive obtainers of information (listening to lectures, reading, taking notes, etc.) and to allow them to engage with a series of hands-on learning activities, both on campus – through the Kelsey Museum and interactive websites – and globally (the latter through social media, video conferencing with our partners in Russia (Moscow State University) and Israel (Tel Aviv University), and virtual travel).

Over the past few years, the team has been experimenting with a wide and diversified array of teaching and learning tools.  The Transformation project will scale those tools that proved most effective and promising to create a broad learning apparatus that will facilitate engaged learning of the ancient world throughout the Michigan campus and beyond.  The work will involve the creation of digital and electronic learning tools, web design, filming video clips for class material, and creating a research app for the Kelsey Museum:

  • The Kelsey Experience:  a variety of digital tools and a web-based infrastructure associated with the real ancient artifacts at the Kelsey museum that provides a hands-on research experience for large enrollment undergraduate classes
  • The Kelsey Research Zydeco App (KRZA):  An app that will facilitate engagement and research by undergraduate students at the Kelsey Museum using their cell phones and tablets
  • Teaching with Video Clips:  The creation of video clips coupled with interactive digital learning tools that will facilitate “virtual travel” to sites in the Mediterranean associated with the ancient world
  • Global Experience and Video Conferencing:  Creating a digital infrastructure for video conferencing for ancient world classes, currently with partners in Moscow and Tel Aviv, but with the ability to add more locations in the future
  • An Interactive Image Database for the Study of the Ancient World:  The development of digital, interactive tools for students to study images related to the ancient world.

About 3,500 students enroll in classes about the ancient world every year on the Ann Arbor campus, and the goal is for all of these students to be able to enjoy the fruits of this project.

Project Team

Tom Bray, Digital Media Commons

Nikki Branch, LSA

Yaron Eliav, LSA

Julie Evershed, LSA Language Resource Center

Sharon Herbert, LSA

Steve Lonn, Learning Education & Design Lab

Chris Quintana, School of Education