So I teach at the University of Cologne. As I am part of two MA programmes for Archaeology I have a pretty predefined range of courses I give. Basically they are the same every two semesters. Creating a course is not easy. My position there as an assistant will end by the end of next year. So I thought in my last semester, I want to give one extra course, just for fun. I wanted it to have something to do with teaching Archaeogaming. My students of my class this semester had another idea.
What I usually teach
So since 2016 I teach basically three courses: 3D Modelling and Reconstruction in Archaeology, 3D recording and documentation of material culture and a course where we use AutoCAD. I love these courses and I really like the progression from year to year. There is something about teaching the same courses over and over again. My personal favourite is of course 3D Modelling and Reconstruction. There, I teach the use of a 3D software in the first half of the semester and then organise projects for the rest.
In this years reconstruction class, where we usually have a look into the student projects with the help of a VR goggle in the last lesson, we started discussing. It is always fun and while one person is exploring the reconstructions in virtual space, all others start to discuss about the course, the use of reconstructions or Virtual Reality in Archaeology. My students asked me how I converted the 3D models for VR and if I could teach them. The idea arose to have a course about reconstructions and game engines (the software that converts 3D models into levels which can be explored in VR).
How to combine this with Archaeogaming
I told them, that I actually have planned to create a course about Archaeogaming and that a course about game engines wasn’t really part of an Archaeology or Archaeoinformatics curriculum. A Leiden-based foundation called VALUE has some great ideas on how to teach Archaeogaming. So they came up with the idea of combining all together: Reconstructions, Game Engines and Archaeogaming! Great idea!
So before I actually have a course ready, I need to have some ideas. One of them being to collaborate with my colleague from Digital Humanities. They already offer courses on Game Engines and the students of Digital Humanities are very good at it. So the idea is, to give a collaborative course for students of Archaeology, Archaeoinformatics as well as Digital Humanities. I imagine that again offering student projects would be a great way of teaching how to practically create something. I already reached out to him and I will see if he likes the idea.
First structure for creating a course
So I guess the idea is to first create a goal, like creating an VR-based interactive learning experience rooted in Archaeology. One group could create a 3D reconstruction. another group could create the interaction system within the Game Engine. Another group could be responsible of writing a script, so what should happen and how to achieve it. As we have space for about 16 students in our computer pool, three groups of 5 to 6 students should work fine. Adding more rooms could even increase the course size.
By the end of the semester, we could also even think about releasing the “game” online, so other could try it out. What do you think? Let me know in the comments down below. Also, I have to think about a form of exam students can take to get credits. I kind of find this exciting. I will do a follow-up to this article as soon as we get deeper into creating the course.