When in Ancient Rome, Learn as the Imaginarium Learns
Classics Department teaches Latin with VR
By Ally O’Connor ’20
Integrating modern virtual reality into Classics courses, Professor Lissa Crofton-Sleigh is groundbreakingly combining the worlds of yesterday and today. In partnership with the Imaginarium’s VR Lab Manager Brian Smith (Art and Art History), Senior Instructional Technology Resource Specialist Christina Ri, and Daniel Demeter ’19 (Computer Science and Mathematics), Crofton-Sleigh and her team are working to create a virtual reality supplement to the Wheelock’s Latin book, which she explains would “help students to reinforce grammar, build and reinforce vocabulary, develop listening skills, and learn about Roman culture.”
Through her years of interest in virtual reality, Crofton-Sleigh has attended a plethora of workshops, but was always disappointed to see few uses in conjunction with the humanities. As she and other SCU Latin courses stand now, the curriculum focuses primarily on grammar and translation. However, according to Crofton-Sleigh, in the future, “this supplement would add visual and cultural components that we can't recreate to the same extent in the traditional classroom.”
When asked about his experience with the project, Smith said, “The Latin VR project we are developing will give students the opportunity to be immersed in the environment of ancient Rome, conversing with virtual Roman characters about daily life. This will give new context to people studying Latin, not as a dead language but as something people once used in regular conversation.”
Although the program is still currently in beta, Crofton-Sleigh and her team hope to invite former Latin language students to test the tool early next year.
About the Imaginarium
The Imaginarium is the virtual reality laboratory located in the Edward M. Dowd Art and Art History Building. Developed in collaboration with the College of Arts and Sciences, private donors, Silicon Valley partners, and the Department of Art and Art History, the Imaginarium allows faculty, staff, and students to collaborate on interdisciplinary projects. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.