Visit Ancient Rome Using the VRoma MOO:
A Hands-On Workshop

John Gruber-Miller

The VRoma MOO is a recreation of second century Rome that combines a series of chat rooms with web pages to create a virtual city where students and teachers can explore ancient Rome and interact with one another.  The VRoma MOO is an ideal place for students in Roman Civilization, Roman history, Latin literature, or elementary Latin courses to learn about Roman culture in a multi-dimensional way, combining visual, spatial, and textual resources to create an effective learning environment.  While many classicists and lay people have used the VRoma website, not as many have ventured to actually visit ancient Rome on the VRoma MOO.  This workshop is designed to introduce those who are new to MOOs to become comfortable with this new technology and learn how they might implement it in their classroom.

What is the VRoma MOO?  First, it is an on-line place that organizes Roman history, values, and culture in a spatial and physical sense.  Students can “walk through” different parts of Rome and see buildings and monuments from different points of view.  The MOO does not segment culture into distinct spheres, but shows, instead, how the political realm affects the religious world of the Romans and how culture impinges on the social order.  Second, the VRoma MOO offers a sense of immediacy where students can talk to each other about what they see, ask questions, talk with ancient Romans (robots), even role-play as Roman characters from literature or history.  Third, they can connect with students from other institutions, communicating across time and place, creating communities of learners, even developing student-created on-line commentaries.

The workshop will introduce participants to these aspects of the VRoma MOO and offer concrete suggestions and activities for using the MOO in the classroom.  Participants will learn the basics of navigation through virtual Rome, will discover how to create a character (identity) for themselves in the MOO, and will practice sending messages and communicating with others.  Participants will also have the opportunity to visit specific regions in Rome: the Forum, the Campus Martius, the Circus Maximus, and the Baths of Trajan.  Finally, the participants will actually participate in a hands-on demonstration of one or more classroom activities. 

Throughout the workshop, participants will be doing, not just learning about the MOO.  Therefore, participation must be limited to the number of computers available at the University of Kentucky facilities so that all participants can get a hands-on sense of the MOO.  Length of time for the workshop will be one hour, including time for questions.  The workshop could be repeated in the second hour to accommodate additional participants.

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