So, we began this week with our event at Red Maids’ School- 90 minutes introducing 80 year 9 students to the model and the ideas behind it. I talked to students in the Hall, and explored with them the possible benefits and drawbacks of modelling and the pros and cons of learning about Pompeii through the medium of a model built in the 19thC. The students had some great (unprompted) ideas about what they perceived as the possible virtues of modelling, particularly accessibility. Meanwhile, Nic was down in the IT suite, trying to make sure everybody got a chance to experience the model. Open Sim behaved impeccably – stood up all the way through. The students very much enjoyed the software though there was some frustration mainly caused by the minimal time Nic was able to spend on orienting them in the software before we started and then the time pressures of the online sessions. As ever, the competitive element of our Apprentice-style Roman dinner party challenge provided motivation for students’ interaction with the model and ‘bots.

We gathered feedback from the students by getting them to scribble ideas on A3 sheets of paper, q&a sessions and by using voting technology to record responses to set questions. Afterwards, we realised yet again that, despite learning a bit more each time we use the voting kits, we still don’t quite model our questions to get the most decisive and usable data. Nevertheless, it was clear that between the beginning and the end of the session, the students had become more comfortable with the idea that their own knowledge of the Roman past is dependent on the Victorian reception of it.

Overall, this was a great start to this year’s trials – Open Sim stood up to the challenge, increasing our (rather dented) confidence in it and we have been able to start honing feedback and data capture mechanisms. Thank so much to everybody at Red Maids’ for having us along. We were particularly pleased that there was considerable interest in the model – we were asked if we would be able to make it available for Year 10/11 Clas Civ classes. Just the sort of longer term opportunity we are looking for for the model.


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