3.2 The basis of interactivity and dialogue

A digital collection has considerable potential for many kinds of interactive tasks, and provides lots of raw material for the educator looking to design meaningful experiences for the learner.

For example, to help learners prepare for a forthcoming class on Beakers and the Bronze Age, they could be directed to particular images on the web with related questions to think about in advance. To warm up in a seminar on the Romanisation of Britain, learners could be asked to choose one artefact each from a selection of digital print-outs and tell the group everything they know about it or why it appeals to them (Figs 28-33). To break up a lecture on archaeological evidence, learners could take part in small group discussions around reconstructed images on overheads or PowerPoint slides. Or to follow up on a class on ritual and funerary monuments, learners could be directed to the SCRAN website with a specific research task or case study to complete. Such tasks can be designed into all kinds of learning situations - from large lecture halls to small-group asynchronous discussions via computer conferencing.

Select thumbnails to access the relevant SCRAN resource.

Cockerel brooch from South Shields Roman figurine from Bank Farm, Dolphinton, Lanarkshire Enamelled wheel brooch from Turret 35A
Figure 28: Cockerel brooch from South Shields Figure 29: Roman figurine from Bank Farm, Dolphinton, Lanarkshire Figure 30: Enamelled wheel brooch from Turret 35A
Roman pan from south-east Scotland Rake head Grinding bowl
Figure 31: Roman pan from south-east Scotland Figure 32: Rake head Figure 33: Grinding bowl

These are all simple activities - the point is that the emphasis is not on what the educator is doing or talking about, but on providing the space and opportunity for students to start communicating with one another, to articulate their own ideas and develop their understanding of others' viewpoints and sharpen their critical thinking. And once discussion is started, it can of course lead to many unexpected and fruitful tangents. Such activities can be further developed into sustained group projects or longer term research exercises. As Laurillard (1995, 182) notes, 'moves towards project work, independent learning, resource-based learning etc. are all moves that recognise the value of allowing learners to proceed at their own pace, working to their own goals and thereby integrating their experiential and conceptual knowledge.'

A range of electronic resources may be usefully combined to provide the basis for more complex and challenging exercises. For example ARCHSearch, Digimap and CANMORE are all resources that could provide an excellent complement to a predominantly visual resource such as SCRAN.

Making use of such collections as a source for content through carefully designed tasks and research exercises takes the focus off the educator as the main source of knowledge, providing much less excuse for the traditional model of 'teaching as telling' as opposed to guiding or facilitating.


Last updated: Wed Aug 28 2002

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