The Georgetown Summer Rome Program, "The Ancient City of Rome," has been a thriving part of the Office of Global Education for many years. Led by faculty in History and Classics, the course involves museum study, visits to archaeological sites, and on-site discussion, and it has brought the past to life for those who specialize in these subjects and for those who have no prior background in it. Using new technologies accessible via a course iPad, this ITEL project brings Rome to life still more—in a dynamic, interactive way. The Digital Rome project created a portable library that enhanced student learning experiences during the on-site summer class through providing a rich online presence of images and student projects. Led by Principal Investigators Tommaso Astarita and Josiah Osgood, this project included the development of a digital instruction library loaded with maps, images, and texts and the construction of a student-sourced database using the Omeka platform. The 15 undergraduate and 4 MA students traveled through the city of Rome, accessing a vast digital archive that helped them contextualize the sites they visited. As students added to the library with their own work and photos, the digital platform became a way to bring the Rome experience home to Georgetown. Students also prepared their own online exhibits with texts and images.
Overall, students certainly engaged—more than they do in writing papers—with the visual evidence, and since that is a major component of this class, we count this as a definite benefit.
This project explored two main questions about technology and student learning. One was to see whether the use of the iPad onsite could help remedy the inability to access technology during their abroad program. The other was to see whether the substitution of an online exhibition of the Omeka platform for a final paper would enhance students' exploration of what they saw in Rome and their ability to use visual data in making historical arguments.
After this ITEL project was implemented in summer 2014, student participants offered overall positive feedback on the technology. They reported that it was useful to see reconstruction drawings in particular. Many students noted that they enjoyed how the Omeka online exhibit allowed them to see each other's images and exhibits, creating a collaborative community. Given student feedback, Astarita and Osgood plan to continue using both the iPad and the Omeka platform for future iterations of their class. They are also considering broader implications of the Omeka platform and ways to successfully integrate this technology into other courses.