Zaption 1: the problem

My course, titled ‘Pompeii and Herculaneum: life and death of two cities’, has been developed and taught by me in 2013-2014. It was very well attended and students (BA2/3) were very enthusiastic about the course. In preparation for the 2015-2016 rerun (catering, again, for around 60-80 students) I had one major issue: the last time around, I had not been happy about the literature the students read as preparation – although there is an abundance of literature about these two cities there are not that many suitable introductions. The ideal book(s) would cover much ground, are not aimed at a specialist audience, touch upon the (methodological) issues I address in my course, are not expensive and easy to obtain.

I used Mary Beard’s Pompeii both times the course was taught and was/am quite happy with this. It is well written and much denser in terms of content than appears at first sight. However, I needed more – preferably with a focus on Herculaneum (Wallace-Hadrill’s book is wonderful but too expensive to oblige students to buy). After much consideration, this time around I decided to supplement Beard by a number of articles as well as weekly clips and quizzes in Zaption. Zaption is an online tool in which lecturers can load clips from YouTube and so on and cut and edit these, at the same time inserting questions that students need to answer before they can continue watching the clip.