Teaching and Learning in the School of Humanities. The Department of Classics showcases the Third-Year Module ‘Digital Silchester’ (CL3SIL). Interview held by Dr Rebecca Rist (School Director of Teaching and Learning) with Dr Matthew Nicholls (Department of Classics).

1.  Dr Nicholls, you are particularly interested in the digital modelling of ancient buildings and places, especially the city of Rome, and you are currently talking to Cambridge University Press about a book and related digital / app publications as well as showcasing your work at the up-coming Higher Education Academy Storyville Conference.  Why did you and the Department of Classics decide to launch the new Part Three module ‘Digital Silchester’ (CL3SIL) this academic year?

There were a number of reasons that we decided to do this.  When I first arrived at the University of Reading I began to interest students in the results of my own digital modelling work through undergraduate and postgraduate modules on the city of Rome.  It soon became apparent that students really wanted to engage with digital modelling and once they knew about my research interests I was frequently asked if I needed any help with projects.  I have found that digital modelling is something that undergraduate students can pick up quickly and I really wanted to get them to participate in seminars, not just as consumers but as producers of their own material.  I have also over the years had a number of UROP students working on digital modelling.  When I saw that these students were able to pick up the necessary software and research skills well, I decided to run ‘Digital Silchester’.  Students are increasingly comfortable with digital technology and virtual worlds, and they enjoy the idea of engaging with something visual, which means the module has attracted a large amount of interest.  ‘Digital Silchester’ has been funded by CDoTL as part of my University Teaching and Learning Fellowship, and I am very grateful to them for awarding me a University of Reading Teaching and Learning Development Fund grant.

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Teaching and Learning in the School of Humanities. The Department of Philosophy showcases the First-Year Module ‘Reason and Argument’ (PP1RA) and the new Second-Year Module ‘Truth and Bullshit’ (PP2TBS): Interview held by Dr Rebecca Rist (School Director of Teaching and Learning) with Dr Nat Hansen (Department of Philosophy).

1.          How long has the Department of Philosophy offered the Part One ‘Reason and Argument’ module (PP1RA) and why have you decided also now to offer a new Part Two module ‘Truth and Bullshit’ (PP2TBS)?

The module ‘Reason and Argument’ was offered for the first time last year. It is a revised version of a long-standing skills-based course called ‘Critical Thinking’.  My colleague Professor Emma Borg redesigned the course for First Years to include a career component in line with the University of Reading’s push to include career advice and placement opportunities in curriculum design.  ‘Truth and Bullshit’ is based on a module that I taught at the University of Chicago that was called ‘Telling the Truth: Scepticism, Relativism and Bullshit’.  The course was developed as part of a Tave Teaching Fellowship–a competitive teaching award at the University of Chicago–and it subsequently also won an award for course design from Chicago’s Center for Teaching and Learning.   The idea behind the ‘Truth and Bullshit’ course is to introduce central topics in philosophy that will have broad appeal not just to students majoring in philosophy but also to joint-degree students across the School of Humanities and the University. And it’s a really fun class to teach!

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