AAA2020 Virtual Conference Banner 7 - 10 Dec

Beyond Tertiary Education: Rethinking Approaches to the Teaching and Learning of Archaeology in Australia

Georgia Roberts
Australian National Committee for Archaeology Teaching and Learning

Melissa Marshall, Nulungu Research Institute, The University of Notre Dame Australia

2020 has been a year of dramatic change to our social, economic and environmental landscapes. One significant change for our discipline has been the rapid transition into different modes of knowledge transmission – how we teach and learn archaeology. In this session we consider some of the big challenges, outcomes and implications within this theme, reporting on the latest Profiling the Profession survey; while exploring alternative approaches and outcomes of remote learning for educators and students. We also provide an update on the Australian Archaeological Skills Passport as we prepare to launch the new 2021 edition. While hugely challenging, ultimately this year has demonstrated the potential to expand the teaching and learning of archaeology beyond the traditional methods of the tertiary sector, embracing engagement and outreach within the broader community.

Australian Archaeology in Profile: Views of Learning and Teaching

Geraldine Mate
Queensland Museum

Sean Ulm, ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, James Cook University

In 2020, the fourth Australian Archaeology in Profile was undertaken. This survey builds on data collected in surveys undertaken in 2005, 2010 and 2015 to provide information on both the current status and longitudinal trends in professional archaeology in Australia. One regularly accessed component of the survey is the analysis of professional skills (including the most valued skills and skill gaps) and qualitative feedback about approaches to teaching and learning.
We present key findings from the 2020 survey, and compare results to previous surveys, identifying longitudinal trends and changing needs for the profession. In particular, we explore the qualifications of professional archaeologists in Australia, the teaching and learning setting, professional development undertaken and the perceived value and capabilities of respondents in a range of skill sets.

Learning Archaeology Online: Student Perspectives on the most Effective Activities and Resources Delivered Remotely

Rebekah Kurpiel 
School of Archaeology and History, La Trobe University

Maddison Crombie, La Trobe University
Ian Walkeden, La Trobe University
Marcel Teschendorff, Flinders University
Timothy McLean, La Trobe University
Melita Rajkumar, University of Western Australia
Iona Claringbold, Australian National University
Elisa Scorsini, Australian National University
Lucinda O’Riley, La Trobe University
Rebekah Kurpiel, La Trobe University

Archaeology is in many ways a hands-on and materials-based discipline, which presents specific challenges for online teaching and learning. Online and ‘blended’ teaching modes have been available to archaeology students for some time but, in 2020, many institutions were required to convert additional content to online delivery to reduce COVID-19 transmission in our communities. Enormous efforts were made by university teaching staff to swiftly accommodate these changes. This paper presents student perspectives on learning archaeology online in 2020 and beyond. It outlines the obstacles associated with learning archaeology online, shares examples of favourite activities and resources from 2020, and considers the characteristics that made these effective. The differences between in person and online learning are pedagogical as well as practical. We hope that sharing student experiences will help elucidate what makes certain activities and resources effective for learning archaeology online, and that this information can be used to inform future online resource development.

Australian Archaeology Skills Passport: Reviewing a Challenging Introductory Year

Georgia Roberts 
Australian National Committee for Archaeology Teaching and Learning

Melissa Marshall, Nulungu Research Institute, The University of Notre Dame Australia

The year of 2020 is undoubtedly one of the most challenging faced in living memory, with the COVID-19 pandemic interrupting every aspect of our life. Interestingly, at a time when all elements of our busy lives were coming to a standstill, the continued roll out of the Australian Archaeology Skills Passport was not one of them. With an increasing request for the production of greater numbers of passports across the nation, from tertiary institutions, Aboriginal organisations, government departments, students and schools alike, the introduction and integration of this critical component of the archaeology learning ecosystem that connects teaching, learning and practice continues.

This paper will consider the implementation of the Australian Archaeology Skills Passport within its first year, the application of the skills sheets and assessor guidelines, in addition to the upcoming incorporation of maritime archaeology skills into the 2021 version. Going from strength to strength with additional online resources due for release at the time of the conference, the passport continues to provide greater transparency to trainers, students and employers on what practical skills are needed within the discipline and when and how these are to be provisioned.

Skeletons in the Living Toom: Adapting Zooarchaeology Teaching to Remote Online Delivery During COVID-19 Pandemic

Sofia C. Samper Carro 
School of Archaeology and Anthropology, the Australian National University

Social distancing measures adopted by universities worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic deeply modified delivery methods in tertiary education. Restrictions to campus access and in-person delivery of courses resulted in a rapid adaptation to online teaching formats, which posited serious challenges to both students and lecturers. In Social Sciences disciplines, this shift in the delivery mode may have been envisaged as an easy transition compared with the obvious limitations faced by Applied Sciences courses. However, disciplines such as zooarchaeology, where a large teaching component resides in students’ access to animal comparative collections and lab-based skill learning demonstrates how specific disciplines within the Social Sciences have struggled to shift to online delivery from traditional face-to-face formats.

This paper presents a case study where alternative methods for zooarchaeology online teaching are examined. From the description and evaluation of the challenges identified pre-delivery, to the constraints faced during delivery, this case study introduces protocols and criteria to consider when proposing online courses in zooarchaeological analysis. Additionally, students experiences, fails and success, are evaluated through surveys and comparison with former student cohorts where in-person teaching was conducted. This paper aims to provide a benchmark for the future design of a more inclusive and engaging student experience while learning practical skills through online contents.


Sixty Years of Learning Archaeology at a Distance: An Australian Story

Wendy Beck 
Department of Archaeology, University of New England

Martin Gibbs, Department of Archaeology, University of New England

While there is a current emphasis on the opportunities afforded by the COVID-19 pandemic for distance education of undergraduate students in Australia, distance learning and teaching is not new in Archaeology. Since 1960, starting with the appointment of Isabel McBryde, UNE has been at the forefront of such teaching and learning in Australia and in this paper we will describe some of the history of this strategy, from personal experience as well as within a broader academic context. As with other disciplines, including scientific ones, distance education and online learning, has a long history both in Australia and overseas, such as at the Open University (founded 1969) in the UK. Drawing on these experience, we map out some of the long Australian history of distance education, together with the pros and cons of teaching and learning in this manner for Archaeology students, teachers and the profession.


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