Reflecting on Week One

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What an amazing first week of the course, once again! It has been fantastic for all of us involved and we are so grateful for the breadth and depth of comments coming from everyone on the course. Reading and participating in the discussions really gives us a sense of the enthusiasm people have for learning about Portus.

The step that stood out for me this week was the discussions around the Portus in the 1st Century First Century (requires login). In this step we invited you all to share your thoughts about arriving at Portus. The sheer number and variety of comments was amazing.

Above is a wordcloud showing some of the top words that learners used to describe what they believe would greet them as they arrived into Portus in the 1st Century. What is clear is that a lot of people expect to see a great number of goods and cargo being unloaded and loaded onto ships. The docks would be bustling with activity, including travelers buying and selling in the shops of the colonnaded buildings surrounding the port. However, it wasn’t only the sights of the port that were considered, but the smells and sounds of Roman life were thoroughly explored by many. Using your own experiences of life today and what you understand about Portus from Week One or through other archaeological sites you have brought together a rich mixture of facts and artistic imagination. This collection of comments can only add to our work at Portus, where try to bridge such scientific and creative divides.

Exploring the Study Groups, a new FutureLearn platform feature, has been an exciting time for all of us. We really didn’t know what to expect. My first impression is that this addition has had a really positive effect on how people interact with other learners. It seems that many of you are taking this opportunity to share your backgrounds, experiences and interests with others in a smaller group. I look forward to seeing these connections grow as the weeks progress. Your shared thoughts and ideas from exploring Portus through the Virtual Tour and the Google or Bing maps really helped me a get a better understanding of the role and use of the Tour. Both good and bad features have been pointed out and I fully intend to use this feedback to make the next version even better.

A reminder that we have a flickr group pool. If you want to create your own video or image representations of the port then please share them with us, or use other tools to share audio. Please feel free to share these imagines on the course when commenting, maybe to ask a question or even to help other learners better understand certain topics.

If you are reading this and haven’t yet signed up then please do! There is still plenty of time to join in the conversations from week one and move on to week two. You can watch the trailer and register on the FutureLearn site here. Next week on the course is the second century and the Emperor Trajan. We will see the construction of a new basin, a series of enormous structures, and what the evidence from these buildings and other historical sources can tell us about Portus at this time.

Looking forward to Week 2

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