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Creative Teaching: Using Digital Media in the Classroom By Stefanie P.

Elkins Most archaeologists will teach at some point in their career and in all likelihood the majority of their students will be undergraduates. For a fresh young professor, nothing can be more daunting and frustrating than a room full of bored 19 year olds whose knowledge of archaeology extends no further than Lara Croft or Indiana Jones. On top of that challenge is the fact that teachers of all ages increasingly have to deal with students who have grown up in such a techno-drenched atmosphere that it has trained them to absorb and process information in fundamentally different ways. Some argue that this has actually changed the way todays student thinks and develops cognitively. Todays young generation is more likely to be armed with cell phones, laptops, and iPads than with pen and paper.1 For scholars taught in the long-standing tradition of lectures and readings, a new approach to teach with technology may be completely unfamiliar. Engaging and keeping the interest of a 20 year old could be the biggest challenge a professor faces. Based on my own teaching experience, I have come to the conclusion that one of the most fundamental lessons missing from the education of professional scholars today is the mastery of practical classroom methods that utilize technology to engage students and make the material relevant for their lives. Enthusiasm for the material, combined with creativity and practical application, is what makes a successful teacher on the college level. According to Joseph Campbell, computers are like Old Testament gods with lots of rules and no mercy.2 This may be exactly the way many professors feel about the daunting thought of trying to put together a PowerPoint presentation complete with animations and inserted YouTube videos, or trying to create an iMovie that looks like a movie trailer. However, although programs and websites like Final Cut Pro, Adobe Creative Suite, and iMovie may seem like the realm of a web designer or IT programmer, these programs are not as daunting and hard to master as might appear. With a little laptop time and basic how-to tutorials, even the most computer-illiterate person can create dazzling visuals that will at least impress students enough to realize that their teacher may be able to relate to them better than they thought! I primarily teach undergraduate Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) majors. As part of core curriculum requirements, BFA students must have four art history classes. Most students welcome this idea with all the enthusiasm that I personally would feel about the prospect of watching NASCAR. However, as a teacher and an art historian, it is my responsibility to impart to my students the
McHugh, Josh. "Connecting to the 21st - Century Student." (2011). [accessed Feb.11, 2011]. 2 Joseph Campbell was an American teacher, mythologist, writer, and lecturer known for his many publications such as The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology (Vol. 1: 1959), Oriental Mythology (Vol. 2: 1962), Occidental Mythology (Vol. 3: 1964), and Creative Mythology (Vol. 4: 1968). For more of his quotes, see The Joseph Campbell Foundation website at:

Stephanie P. Elkins. Creative Teaching. Dig-it-al NEA, ASOR. Posted April 12, 2011

visual culture of ancient civilizations. It is a challenge to try to convey thousands of years worth of visual material in my Prehistoric to Medieval Art class. While the easiest thing to do is to simply lecture, much is lost in this traditional method when trying to conveying the past to students who dont how this is useful to their present lives. For the art of ancient cultures like Mesopotamia and Egypt, I focus a lot on the artisans and the techniques they used. But in order to make the art real and to get the students to understand the context of the culture in which the art was created, I have to access something to which todays students can relate. When I get to the Assyrian Empire, therefore, I like to focus on the wonderful alabaster relief panels; specifically the reliefs found in the North Palace of Ashurbanipal. I begin by talking about the Royal Lion Hunt. All of the lion imagery produced by the great Assyrian kings such as Sargon II, Sennacherib, and Ashurnasirpal II is stunning, but the lion hunt reliefs of Ashurbanipal are by far the most intense, realistic, and even specific. I want the students to have a visceral reaction when they see these sculptures. Therefore, one of the methods that Im starting to use in teaching involves creating short movies, using the program iMovies. By combining high-resolution images of artifacts and artwork with soundtrack-like music, I have been able to create something akin to a movie trailer. These kinds of visuals appeal to students in general, but I have found that they also have a way of connecting my art students to artists of the past. For example, the iMovie approach seems to help my graphic design students better understand the concept of propaganda and advertising in the ancient world and thus relate it to the kind of work that they do creating ads and identities for companies. In creating iMovies, I have learned a lot and have also found a new type of art project for my students. In my art history classes, students choose a civilization and an artwork from a particular genre that they find appealing. They research this artwork or series of art works and come up with an original design based on the concept and/or style of their chosen ancient artwork(s). For example, one of my students became interested in Sumerian votive figurines. He went on to create a modern version out of clay that he turned into a bobble head. Another student took Greek Attic vases and recreated a modern rendition where the gods were using cell phones and iPads. A new project for the students could be to take a civilization, or theme from antiquity (this could easily apply to archaeological periods, building campaigns, etc), and create an iMovie that would be graded on many levels, including aesthetic appeal, design, quality, music appropriateness, and so on. Content would be a separate category. This is also a project that could be team taught by combining the expertise of digital media professors with the historical accuracy checked by professors of history or archaeology. Below is a list of sources that I have found useful in my iMovie research. One important thing to point out is copyright and royalty laws. Images and music may typically be used with no problem, as long as they are used for educational purposes and are not published on unsecured websites like YouTube or even on your universitys domain. In sharing this iMovie with the ASOR readers, we have procured the proper contracts in order to show this example of what you might create on your own for your students and the classroom. If you wish to share your digital creations, you need to especially be aware of royalties concerning music and copyrighted images
Stephanie P. Elkins. Creative Teaching. Dig-it-al NEA, ASOR. Posted April 12, 2011

The sites listed below are specifically meant for educators and people wanting to publish their works. One should still carefully read the links about publishing and always be sure to include credits in your productions. Royalty free and stock music sites These sites offer music intended for presentations, educational productions, Power Points, and YouTube videos. Songs can be purchased individually. Some sites also include downloadable sound effects. Tracks can cost as little as $10 and usually cost no more than $35 for full-length versions. Some sites also offer subscriptions or collections or related themes for $200 - $400. Sites like offer educational discounts for teachers. Copyright Free Images A great site for visual images is Art Images for College Teaching. AICT is a personal, non-profit project of its author, art historian and visual resources curator Allan T. Kohl. This site is intended primarily to circulate images of art and architectural works in the public domain on a free-access, free-use basis to the educational community, as well as to the public at large. The images displayed on this site have been photographed on location by the author, who consents to their use in any application that is both educational and non-commercial in nature. There are several sections on the ancient Near East, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. The quality varies but most are of a high enough resolution for presentations.

Stephanie P. Elkins. Creative Teaching. Dig-it-al NEA, ASOR. Posted April 12, 2011