Sunday, 15 June 2014

Och samma på svenska – teaching more digital methods

This week was the start of my proper teaching at Stockholm. Even if I have given three research seminars and one lecture in the ‘Humans and metals’ course, my main responsibility is to be one of the teachers in the Volterra field school. This means three lectures on GIS and digital recording methods, two demonstrations and practicals, one lecture on Etruscan religion and burial customs and two weeks in Volterra supervising group exercises and practicals. I do all this in Swedish, even if we will build the database in English, since it will be available to the commune and the Superintendency in Tuscany.

Teaching coordinate systems

The main problem has been looking for the Swedish words for all those concepts I have always discuss and taught in English. Very often the Swedish use the English words as well in computing connections, but one has to prepare lectures with proper terminology. Luckily, the Landsmäteri and many universities had enough content, so I could find the terms but also some illustrations in Swedish. However, to add to my linguistic confusion, our ArcGIS version is in English, so after more theoretical content, I gave a demonstration that was peppered with comments such as ‘Add layer’ and ‘Display units’. Naturally, all Italian map layers available thanks to the INSPIRE directive have their downloading interfaces, names and information in Italian. Hopefully, this will make clear the rule 1 in Italian archaeology: "you really need to read and speak Italian".

I have now also ventured to photogrammetry and will be building models together with students. Sadly, laser scanning will be carried out another year, since ‘grant hunting’ has not been too successful and to be honest, there is only so much I can do as one person; I am already sorting out geographic reference system and physically getting the GPS equipment from Pisa to Volterra. It will be nice to wait for last year’s ‘laserscanner’ to return to continue his work. I am quite happy to concentrate to plan a town GIS and do photogrammetry of objects and buildings.

Old finds at Villa Lante in good use

The teaching was a pleasant experience, although it became clear that the content in the end is easily divided into two blocks (lectures on GIS, a demonstration on ArcGIS and an exercise dealing with a database table for archaeological monuments on one hand and the digital recording and the demonstration of the Agisoft Photoscan Professional on the other), so they should in the future be split between two days in order to guarantee that people learn the basics properly. Having ‘lighter cultural content’ in the afternoon, i.e., beautiful landscapes and objects from Etruria, will make the experience smoother. In this way, people will be able to absorb the technical content better.

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