Heritage and Digital learning
: understanding how communities learn about Cultural Heritage from online content and how it can be embedded in traditional education

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Recently, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have become prominent in the Higher Education market. Increasingly, universities are offering a greater variety of courses to improve their appeal to prospective students and to promote their research to the public. Specifically, in the context of Higher Education heritage domains, some MOOCs have focused on making interdisciplinary content globally accessible to a wider audience, to provide additional blended content within core learning and teaching, and as a marketing tool.

    Since 2013/14, the University of Southampton and FutureLearn have been running a MOOC that aims to provide an introduction to the history and archaeology of the Roman Mediterranean site of Portus, and is open to the international community and aligns to UK Higher Education priorities and curricula. Until now, the course has engaged thousands of learners who contributed with comments, ideas and questions, building upon the Portus project's previous disseminated work via the BBC documentary Rome's Lost Empire, through other mass media including its own websites, blogs and social media, in exhibitions, and via activities at the archaeological site. Most of the material that is openly available has been translated into Italian by the author of this thesis, in an attempt to engage Italian speakers, raise the profile of the site in Italy, and enhance the cultural and linguistic diversity of the course and its learners.

    At the same time, the Italian government has developed a series of articles (Law n. 107, 13/7/15; “La Buona Scuola”) and policies (e.g., Strategic Plan by TDLab) to develop global citizenship skills among new generations via education and to develop Italian tourism. This thesis thus examines the use of MOOCs and other online open materials as a transnational medium to link higher education institutions to secondary schools, specifically targeting 16 to 18-year-old pupils in Italy, in an attempt to improve and internationalise the online content available for the face-to-face and blended school environment.

    Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL), blended learning, self-contained activities as part of a work placement (such as the creation of 3D models or new content on Wikipedia), and online tools have been used to increase access to educational content, develop teachers’ skills, promote cultural literacy in geographically dispersed student communities, and to develop future world citizens. The data collected also provides important insights to understand how the digital component can be improved to enable better reuse within a truly internationalised course that can integrate traditional education to shape our society.

    Date of Award1 Jan 2022
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • King's College London
    SupervisorGraeme Earl (Supervisor)

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