Dr Seán AllanJob title: Associate Professor
Organisation: Department of German Studies, University of Warwick
Email: Seán Allan
National Teaching Fellow 2009
Seán Allan was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge and at the Humboldt University in what was then East Berlin. After a spell teaching at the University of Reading – where he played a key role in promoting the use of German-language drama as a learning-tool – he joined the Department of German Studies at the University of Warwick in 2001.
A specialist in German culture of the eighteenth- and nineteenth centuries, he has made extensive use of mp3 technology to enhance the study of German poetry. His pioneering project ‘Podcasting Goethe’ transformed the study of poetry for first-year students of German who now have access to specially commissioned readings of Goethe’s early work and can study this in the context of other more contemporary material such as Rammstein’s ‘Dalai Lama’. And it is not just students at Warwick that have benefited; the on-line archive of poetry podcasts is an open resource that is regularly accessed from all over the world. Since the site went live in October 2007 it has received over 68,000 hits.
Seán’s use of web-based technologies has had a profound impact not only on how students study, but on what they study too. Using digital video Seán has created a series of virtual ‘walk-throughs’ that guide students through Berlin and introduce them to key historical sites such as the Holocaust Memorial and Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish Museum. As a result students in their final-year now work not only on film and literature, but also on the cultural significance of urban architecture and the changing cityscape.
Despite his enthusiasm for new technologies Seán firmly believes that the relationship between teacher and student remains paramount:
"Transforming students into active creators of knowledge is the only way to inspire intellectual passion, and lies at the heart of everything I do in my seminars’, he says. ‘Used creatively, ICT can play a major role in opening up new directions in teaching and learning; but it can also alienate students. Digital technology will never replace good teaching; but it can expand the learning environment beyond the walls of the classroom.’