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Miami classics students, Columbus High School students rebuild Rome Virtually

05/04/1998

OXFORD, Ohio -- Ancient Rome is thriving in cyberspace, reborn through the efforts of students at Miami University and a secondary school in Columbus.

The VROMA project--funded by a $190,000 National Endowment for the Humanities grant--links students in a university Latin class taught by Judith de Luce, professor of classics, with Susan Bonvallet's fifth year Latin high school students at The Wellington School.

De Luce and Bonvallet--with technical assistant from Steve Nimis, chair of the Miami classics department and a director of the VROMA project--began planning the courses last summer at a computer workshop. Together, the two classes are reading in Latin and discussing the Aulularia of Plautus; analyzing theater conventions and performances; and researching and preparing essays for the on-line commentary of the play.

"VROMA lets students and teachers interact live in virtual reality," de Luce said. "In addition to the volumes of information available at the VROMA Web site, there are virtual rooms where students and faculty share everything, including photos, messages and collaborative assignments."

As instructors, de Luce and Bonvallet benefit as well.

"The VROMA project allows us to expand and improve our capacity to teach, in part because of the unparalleled wealth of material available in classics on the Internet. Our field is just incredible in terms of the electronic support for instruction and scholarship, from texts and commentaries, to images, maps, and virtual cities," de Luce said.

As for the future, de Luce will be incorporating VROMA materials into her classics courses next year and hopes to have her Roman law class in the spring reenact a trial on the MiamiMOO, the same virtual reality environment in which the two Latin classes collaborated this spring.

Miami University will host a VROMA workshop July 15-24 aimed at training high school and college instructors to use technology in their courses. During the workshop, additional high school and college course collaborations--similar to the course taught by de Luce and Bonvallet -- will be initiated.

For additional information, contact Judith de Luce at(513) 529-1487 or Steve A. Nimis at (513) 529-1480. Also, check the VROMA Web site at http://vroma.rhodes.edu.

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