When two teams – one in Australia, one in the UK – met to debate questions of power in ancient Athens, they did so in a virtual classroom that belongs firmly to their own.
Thanks to the high-tech “international portal” that links a classroom at Warwick with Monash University’s Clayton campus, students were able to join in the real-time debate without leaving their home countries. The debate took place 7.45-9am in the international portal room on 30 April.
The pursuit of interesting new ways to teach led Dr Michael Scott from Warwick’s Department of Classics and Ancient History to the idea, and he quickly gained support from Dr Gillian Bowen, a senior lecturer in the Monash Centre for Archaeology and Ancient History.
Dr Bowen hopes the debate will be the start of greater collaboration between ancient history students at Monash and Warwick:
The debate will improve our students’ ability to ‘think on their feet’ whilst also encouraging interaction with ancient history students at Warwick. The Monash students will wear traditional costumes, which is also a fun way for them to learn about the world’s first democracy.”
Dr Scott said the debate would facilitate a new method of learning between students from different university and cultural environments.
This international learning experience will teach our students transferable skills that will benefit their careers beyond university.”
Over the past few weeks, around 40 students from each university have been preparing for the debate, which will run for an hour on 30 April. The three topics discussed were on whether women were the power behind Athenian democracy; whether the Agora or the Acropolis was the more democratic space; and who was more radical - Pericles or Ephialtes.
Such international learning experiences are an integral part of the Monash Warwick Alliance.
Academic staff searching for potential collaborators at Monash or Warwick can use Piirus, a free online tool that links academic staff within their field or other disciplines.
Dr Scott holds an Institute of Advanced Teaching and Learning Academic Fellowship for his Democracy and Imperialism in Classical Athens module. Follow Dr Michael Scott on Twitter @drmichaelcscott