Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Teaching Archaeology & the Media

This year, my supervisor and I were very excited to receive funding from the University of Bristol to conduct some innovative teaching approaches on concepts around "Archaeology and the Media" including social media. The first two sessions took place over the last couple of weeks and student feedback was very promising.

The aim of teaching was to provide students with competencies, strategies and ethics in how to deal with media channels, journalists, social media, etc. (I wasn't teaching them "how to do a tweet"!).

I've adopted a crowdsourcing activity I saw at a HEA workshop earlier this year and mixed up my lecture delivery style with interactive elements. Students responded to both the break of lecture (*brain relief*) and the chance to discuss and hash out what they just learned in small groups, and then bring it back to the larger group.

It's difficult to prove, unless I tie this in to examinations, but I think this process helps with retention of information. It's well understood that we only retain a small precentage of what we hear and write down, but by bolstering this with discussion and reflection, learning is reinforced immediately. By interacting, students also feel more involved, and participation can enhance enjoyment and enthusiasm for the subject.

In addition to one of the lectures, I was also given blocks of seminar time to further develop ideas grounded on the case study of the Berkeley Castle Excavations social media project. I created a loose frame within which the students were encouraged to work independently and collaboratively, at their own speed, following their own interests, with me placed to provide direction and support as required. Again, this was highly effective and many students commented on how they enjoyed this relaxed environment where any idea was welcomed. The added bonus was that students became even more encouraged to join the social media team this summer (hooray!).

In the coming weeks and months, I will be further developing my approaches and writing up my findings. After the summer excavation period, I will produce a report for the University which will contain a model of my approaches that can be lifted and applied to a wide range of subjects (especially those that conduct fieldwork) - this will be made available freely once internally approved. 

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