A head full of archaeoastronomy

I finally got my paws on Duane Hamacher’s The First Astronomers. It was published last year in Australia and you couldn’t get a physical copy for love or money on this side of the planet. Then I finally saw that Amazon had a pre-order button so I clicked it and waited and waited. It eventually arrived a couple of days before my birthday, so forgetting I had pre-ordered it – and because my mental health spiralled out of control at the end of 2022/start of 2023, I missed the email notification – I didn’t actually open it until my birthday.

Anyway, it’s a cracking book. Hamacher is an academic working in cultural astronomy researching First Nations sky talk in Australia (and around the world), so there are plenty of references in the Bibliography but it’s written in a style that is very accessible to the lay person.

Meanwhile the Open University are paying for me to do a Post Graduate Certificate in Online Teaching so I’m learning about Technology-Enhanced Learning (TEL). For my End-of-Module Assessment I have to create a MOOC suitable for FutureLearn that implements and discusses the future of TEL within my field. I don’t know how restrictive my field has to/should be. Would it be possible to look at TEL within, say, the teaching of archaeoastronomy? And the future of TEL?

We’ve already looked at Second Life. My classmates were sceptical and thrown by the avatars’ uncanny valley effect. But (and don’t go telling anyone this) the thing is, I may have logged back on to Second Life and had a look around eight months ago. And you know what, it’s cleaned up nicely, is much less laggy, there are no naked dudes running around scaring people away (they’ve all been banished to the Adult regions – so you can still find them if you want to laugh at them). So I knew there were significant improvements over the dated video my classmates were looking at, but that’s neither here nor there. What a virtual environment offers is the ability to create a permanently solstice sunrise/sunset environment at a Neolithic monument. The Environment settings have been beefed up – you can basically order the sun and moon to rise at whatever point in the horizon you wish. Of course, it’s no Stellarium, but it’s also not bad either and gives you the opportunity to move around a site, rather than just pivot on one point. And of course, within Second Life, 40-50 companions can join you for the event.

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