Two UCF professors are broadcasting their classes from southern Africa, using innovative technology to connect students in the classroom with the arts and culture of the region.
Professors Bruce Janz and Rosalyn Howard, who research Humanities and Anthropology, are teaching the remainder of this semester’s cultural anthropology courses through a virtual study abroad experience that allows them to “beam” back their lectures in real time starting this week.
Classes will be taught from various locations, including art centers and city streets, from across South Africa and Swaziland.
The UCF students interact with Janz and Howard and the people about whom they’ve been learning, thanks to special satellite and digital technology.
“To get a chance to see the cultures and the diverse ethnic groups that are there, and to be able to show those to my students in real time is a fantastic opportunity,” Howard said.
The professors’ 90-minute webcasts will be broadcast twice weekly through Thursday, Dec. 9. The classes are filmed using wireless cameras that feed video to a mixer, allowing the professors to introduce video clips, slides and other media to their lessons via satellite.
Phil Peters, a Digital Media professor, is providing technical support on the trip. He has previously used similar technology on explorations to India and Bermuda with his company Interactive Expeditions, a mobile research lab based at UCF.
Often people think only of traditional Africa, but the continent is a vibrant place where customs mesh with emerging metropolitan cities to create an inventive art scene, the professors say.
On their journey, they’re speaking with local artists about the perceived notions of African life versus what people there actually experience.
“This course is really about changing people’s views of Africa, and that means showing them that there’s cutting-edge work going on in the arts and in every area of humanities,” Janz said.
It’s exciting to help UCF students change their views and perceptions of Africa and what it’s like living there, he added.
The public is invited to expand its knowledge of modern Africa by watching one of the classes for free. To watch, log onto http://intxlab.cah.ucf.edu/ at 9 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 9.
To learn more about the course, visit http:// intxafrica.com.