Creating Future Archaeologists: University of Leicester

I’m Alex, a course designer and teacher at the University of Leicester (and an Archaeology graduate/researcher by background). Although I work across all Humanities subjects, much of my day to day work tends to be Archaeology- or museum-themed; and this week in particular has been full of it.

One of the puzzles from the Archaeology Challenge, launched today. Can you solve it?

One of the puzzles from the Archaeology Challenge, launched today. Can you solve it?

This morning, I sent out two rather odd images to a cohort of undergraduate distance learning students on our BA Archaeology degree. The images are puzzles 8A and 8B in a 10-week puzzle game called the Archaeology Challenge which I run. Each week, the students get two puzzles which relate to the work they’re doing in their course books – the puzzles pick up key concepts and send the students off into real resources or data sets to apply their skills and find the answers. This week’s relate to identity and symbols, and to evaluating evidence: there’s an inevitable (and useful) link to some of the Richard III material from this one, which gets the students working with up-to-date evidence (see example image).

Richard III is all around us at the moment, of course. The second period of excavation is finishing down in the town centre, and today we might get more news of the stone coffin which was found earlier this week (I’m keeping my eye on Twitter and the Dig Blog). Earlier this week I was interviewed on BBC local radio about a national teaching award, but half of the interview ended up discussing the local dig and Archaeology in general.  Richard III  also casts his shadow over my afternoon activity: continuing work on a new ‘MOOC’ (massive open online course) we are developing to launch with Future Learn later in the year.

I’m overseeing both MOOCs we are creating, but one focussed on England at the time of Richard III is occupying most of my time at the moment. Together with Deirde O’Sullivan, we’re planning all sorts of interesting trips to archaeological sites for short film sequences, or studies of particular objects, to accompany the course narrative. I’m writing a section on late medieval manuscripts and early printing, so I’ll be interspercing the planning with some periods of writing.

As I told the radio interviewer earlier in the week, my Archaeology degree and earlier work in the field fuelled my sense of adventure and investigation – and gave me a large toolkit of skills from the humanities and sciences to draw on. I still retain this desire for investigation, and this multi-disciplined approach to problem solving, with me in all I do: all thanks to that Archaeological base.

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