As a wise man once said, “Education costs money, but then so does ignorance.” The first part of the maxim isn’t so true any more as online resources and information proliferate, making it free and easy for everyone to learn online if they want to. There are now a number of courses online on Roman history and architecture too and they’re from respected universities, given by well known experts in their field.
Brought to my attention by the Free Technology for Teachers blog, Yale offers its online course Roman Architecture 252, a series of 24 lectures available to download to your computer or viewable on youtube and iTunes.
Yale professor and expert on the art and architecture of the ancient Romans Diana Kleiner, lectures on architecture and urban spaces in the Roman world, with the political history of the empire inevitably covered as well. Her lectures are clear and engaging with a series of visual aids from Google Earth and reconstructions, as well as Kleiner’s own photos. She discusses Roman town planning, Greek architectural influences, Roman architectural art and some of the finest Roman structures surviving today, such as the aqueduct at Segovia in Spain and the Pont du Gard at Nimes and the amphitheatre at Pompeii (the model for the Yale Bowl).
Other universities are also offering free learning online. Berkeley’s series of about 40 lectures are audio only but cover a wide range of topics between Augustus and Constantine, including slavery, the status of women and inflation during the Roman empire.
There is also education material available for younger learners as well as those who want a more general introduction to Roman history. The Open University’s online educational material The Roman Empire: introducing some key terms gives an introduction to the subject and includes a short video, discussion points and an essay on Roman identity and culture. Perhaps for a younger range of learners, the BBC also has material on the Roman Empire including Roman online battle games, 3D reconstructions and reading material and collections of images such as Roman mosaics produced by Roman military historian Dr Mike Ibeji.