Digital for all now

#Education: interviewing Caligula or Augustus? Why not?

Econocom 1 Aug 2016

Imagine history students, during a lesson on ancient Rome, could interview Marcus Aurelius, Augustus or Caligula. It may seem crazy, but it can be done, with just some royalty-free photos and some animation software. Frédéric Christ, a Classics teacher at Toucy secondary school in Burgundy, has designed a teaching programme for his Year 10 students based on this original concept. Even more amazing: on the other side of the world, in Japan, writer Soseki Natsume, who died in 1916, could soon be lecturing in literature at his old university – reincarnated as an android!


BRINGING FACES BACK TO LIFE after hundreds of years

Frédéric Christ’s idea is to enable students to play at being journalists and interview one of the first Roman emperors (Caligula, Marcus Aurelius or Augustus), using a series of documents including texts to be translated and others already translated from Latin or Greek. The aim is to establish a dialogue between two people divided by centuries of changing social mores. Because, aside from the biographical details of the emperor interviewed, students are supposed to challenge the values of each era. The themes raised include the nature of absolute imperial power and the emperor’s executing condemned criminals or members of his family.


To make this happen, the students use royalty-free images and two software programs: Crazytalk7 pro to make talking heads and Windows Live Movie Maker for video editing. This exercise encourages them to put various writing, speaking and digital skills into practice.



At Nishogakusha University in Tokyo, a similar experiment has been launched, whereby a deceased writer can converse with students. Considered as one of the greatest authors in modern Japanese literature, Soseki Natsume, author of I Am a Cat, who died in 1916, will be teaching literature classes as from December 2016 as a robot developed by the university’s researchers and robotics expert Hiroshi Ishiguro.  According to the Daily Mail, the android will be built using 3D scans of a death mask and the voice will be created after analysing the writer’s grand-son’s voice.


Thanks to digital, students can already go on a field trip to Mars or do a collaborative “twictation”

 with classes all over the world. Teachers are understanding that digital can enhance their teaching methods and more and more of them are adopting new technologies to devise original and engaging learning experiences.



Find out about other innovative initiatives:

 Innovative teaching: the University of Rouen goes digital

Shona Whyte: using new technologies to make language learning easier

Twittclasses, twiterature, Frenchteach: teaching in the digital age

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