(University of Reading, Reading, UK)

Keywords: 3D Rome model digital visualisation reconstruction

I have made a large-scale digital model of ancient Rome which I use extensively in teaching and research, and which has also been adapted for broadcast, is being used as the setting for a computer game, and is now the centrepiece of a massive online open course (MOOC) on ancient Rome which will be released on the FutureLearn platform later this year.
If accepted for the New Realities session, I would like to talk in particular about the MOOC., which will be releasd in 2016 and should attract cohorts of c.10,000 students in each of its runs. This will use my digital reconstruction, released in a variety of formats and combined with real world ‘documetnary’ footage recently filmed in Rome, to introduce learners to ancient Rome. As far I know this will be the first attempt to create a massive online public course using city-scale digital reconstruction. The slide format for this session is prescribed, and my proposals are as follows:

  • Summary of the project:
    ancient Rome (5 themed weeks of online course looking at infrastructure, residential and commercial buildings, political buildings and monuments, religious buildings, and entertainment structures). Public global audience of several thousand learners per course run.
  • Technical solution (short and clear, stressing the innovations, if any)
    Generation of high quality rendered animations and stills from my city-scale reconstruction of Rome, plus interactive 3D elements inc. Unity-generated 360s for mobile phone and Google Cardboard deployment; combination with real world and studio footage.
  • How the technical solution contributes toward reaching the project’s goal
    Integration with FutureLearn platform and traditional MOOC content such as high-quality video and discussions. Online deployment of dynamic elements like 360 panoramas within a MOOC platform. Use of visualisation as a teaching tool.
  • Results: success, failure, something in between?
    TBC: we have not yet released it but will have done by the time of the conference!
  • Where do we go from here?
    Unity-generated complete walk-around model of ancient Rome

Relevance conference | Relevance session:
MOOCs are an important new dissemination tool; my ancient Rome MOOC uses my large 3D model of Rome, (also used in documentaries, popular publications, and a computer game): a useful case study.

Integration of digital material using new technologies in a new public-facing context, the MOOC: sharing materials developed for university research and pedagogy with a global audience.

NICHOLLS M. 2016: ‘Digital Visualisation in Classics Teaching and Beyond’ in Journal of Classical Teaching, 2016.
Article about my work in British Academy review.