The Argument for Free Classes via iTunes

November 18, 2009

The Argument for Free Classes via iTunes
The New York Times Business Innovation Technology Society (Bits) Blog recently featured a piece by Brad Stone about the increasingly popular iTunes U, Apple’s catalog of lectures from colleges and universities around the world. Launched two years ago, there are now 600 schools participating. iTunes U makes more than 250,000 individual classes available to the public. Martin Bean, vice-chancellor of Open University, a distance-learning institution based in Britain, states, “‘There are still a lot of universities in the world that define the value of their experience as somehow locking up their content and only giving people access to the content when they enroll in the program….The courage comes from taking the next leap of faith. Universities no longer define themselves by their content but the overall experience: the concept, the student support, the tutoring and mentoring, the teaching and learning they get and the quality of the assessment.'” Open University has “more than 375,000 downloads a week,” and recently had its 10-millionth download.


OKAPI Island News

August 5, 2009

Over the past two years, OKAPI Island in Second Life has supported the research, teaching, and learning of dozens of scholars. OKAPI Island has also hosted numerous public programs and outreach activities. This post highlights key accomplishments and updates.

2007 Open Archaeology Prize
2008 NMC Virtual Learning Award

Public Programs
Burning Catalhoyuk Day. December 10, 2008
Presidio Teacher Night. October 1, 2008
iSummit Keynote Webcasts. July 30-31, 2008
Cal Day. April 8, 2008
Remixing Catalhoyuk Day. November 28, 2007

Second Life DeCal Courses (Fall 2008) (Spring 2009)

Anthropology 39B: Serious Games for Archaeology and Imagining the Past (Fall 2009)

Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program (offered for the fourth consecutive semester)
Sharing a Sense of Place: Constructing a Neolithic Village in Second Life

Interview: “Second Life as an Archaeological Tool”
An Interview with Berkeley Archaeology Professor Ruth Tringham
National Center for Preservation Technology and Training. June 18, 2009.

Journal Article
Morgan, Colleen. “(Re)Building Çatalhöyük: Changing Virtual Reality in Archaeology” Archaeologies. July 2009.

More Info

“Basket Weaving at Catalhoyuk” by Colleen Morgan

Cal Day (April 12): Bridging Real, Imaginary and Virtual Worlds

March 22, 2008
A Public Archaeology Program produced by OKAPI and the Berkeley Archaeologists at Catalhoyuk
12-3pm Pacific Time (8-11 pm GMT)
April 12, 2007
Archaeological Research Facility:
Okapi Island in Second Life:
12pm – 12:45 Lecture: “Bridging the gap between Real, Imagined and Virtual at the 9000-year old archaeological site of Çatalhöyük, Turkey” by Ruth Tringham, Professor of Anthropology, UC Berkeley, and Principal Investigator of the Berkeley Archaeologists at Catalhoyuk
Room 108, Archaeological Research Facility (Webcast live in Okapi Island)
1pm – 3pm
“Immersive 3D Visit to Catalhoyuk”
Visitors to the Archaeology Research Facillity will be guided by life-sized avatars (Cal faculty, students & staff) on a virtual tour of Catalhoyuk. Virtual visitors can join the tour as well.

Article in California Magazine notes the importance of “events” in Second Life

March 5, 2008

There’s an interesting article by Hubert Dreyfus in this month’s California magazine about Second Life. They never mention the educational aspects of Second Life – strange since it’s in a university magazine. But they do make one point about the role of Second Life in bringing together people and creating community for specific events. This resonates with what we are thinking for Okapi island. I’m not overly thrilled with the article, but I need to read it again more carefully

Okapi Island Spring 2008. Thoughts to start off with

February 15, 2008

What is our ultimate purpose?
Education (K-Grey)?
Sensual experience
Platform for showing remixes
Platform for communication?
Immersion in an archaeological site?
Immersion in the archaeological process?

To Plan
Events, talks, movie shows, audio shows – not just the big event.
Building and other Competitions
Regular tours (eg every Friday when we are “in residence”
This includes events in Second Life that are around real-world happenings and performances (eg Catal team symposium at Sociaety For American Archaeology in March)
It also includes real worl events where we can bring Second Life to the Real World (eg Cal Day)
We need to do more serious advertising of these events

Update signs, esp about join us on Okapi Day
Results of Okapi Day

Museum etc.
Have Okapi island harvest media from database rather than upload them

Embedding/Mash-up of Remixing Catalhoyuk data in Okapi Island

Prehistoric Houses:
Clues to what is down below
Build some furniture in one

Tidy up ie get rid of extraneous and irrelevant exercises
Commentary on the good one (revolving picture cube)

Graffiti Board
Change pictures?

BACH tent
Put active stuff on the floor that links to the pictures on the wall

New areas (invite Catal people from list)
Create 4040 area with new pics
Polish area
West Mound (SUNY Buffalo and Cambridge

Incorporate Steve Mills Catalhoyuk sounds

Add walks from BACH tent to South/Mellaart area

Some things for people to buy or win:
Avatar gestures such as
archaeological gestures (trowelling)
Turkish dancing
Keepsakes: images of artifacts, movies of digging
T-shirts for avatars

Okapi Island in Second Life – opportunities for students (and others) Spring 2008

January 10, 2008

Remixing Catalhoyuk Day on Okapi Island, 28 November, 2007

After our wildly successful Remixing Catalhoyuk Day at Okapi Island on November 28, 2007, we (Ruth Tringham and Noah Wittman) are looking for a renewed, enthusiastic team to join us in further developments and preparation for another big open day event during the Spring semester 2008. Our island is now beginning to gain public visibility.

Many of our team have participated through the sponsorship of the Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program. If you will continue with us, please let me (Ruth Tringham know as soon as possible. If you are interested in applying to the project through URAP (where you can receive credit), go to the URAP portal at

You don’t have to be an undergraduate apprentice to collaborate with us. We have graduate students, staff members and other undergraduates working with us, and joyously welcome anyone with interest and/or skills to help us. These are the qualities we are looking for

  • Knowledge of and/or strong desire to learn about archaeology
  • Strong oral and written communications skills, including event organization
  • Any special skills and/or interest in the senses of place: visual, soundscapes, haptic…
  • Facility with digital media and multimedia production tools (Photoshop, Illustrator, Final Cut, etc.)
  • Experience with 3d modeling desirable for apprentices seeking to do modeling work
  • Knowledge of Linden Script Language or experience in scripting/coding desirable for apprentices seeking to do in-world scripting
  • Ability to work in a team

If you are interested in participating, please write to Noah Wittman ( and Ruth Tringham ( We also welcome skilled collaborators who are not on – or even near – Berkeley campus.

How do we share and communicate a sense of place to another person or a larger audience, who may be academics, professionals, different grades of K-16 learning, lifelong learners, or journalists–all of whom will re-contextualize our archaeological interpretations in one way or another? How do we express the senses of a place that in the past was alive with people, events and meaning, and now seems dead and empty (but perhaps it is not)? How do we convey to our different audiences the changing meaning and meaningfulness that a place may have for diverse actors through its life-history to its current life perhaps as a heritage site? This project comprises the development of one of the very very few archaeological sites in the on-line “world” of Second Life. We started this project in Spring 2006 because we believe that there is great potential of this platform for interactive educational and research projects about archaeological places. We are beginning to have many visitors and a public presence, and there is much room for student input and creativity.

Apprentices and other participants will work with Ruth Tringham, Noah Wittman. and other project team members to design and develop 3D model of Çatalhöyük, a 9000 year-old Neolithic village located in modern-day Turkey that has already been brought into Second Life on Okapi Island. Çatalhöyük is the focus of extensive archaeological investigation by Ruth Tringham and other scholars. This Second Life project grew out of a Web-based project to disseminate the media database of Çatalhöyük called Remixing Çatalhöyük. Depending on interests and skill sets, participants will be responsible for building 3D models, scripting interactive features, implementing virtual tours, designing museum exhibits or planning events (a Neolithic faire?) and other educational activities. We welcome your participation in this exciting, innovative project!

Remixing Çatalhöyük (the parent project)

Okapi Island, location of Çatalhöyük in Second Life (a work in progress _needs your help!)
More Okapi Island info: at this website:
and in this movie:

More on Çatalhöyük

OKAPI Wins Open Archaeology Prize

December 11, 2007

Alexandria Archive Institute Press Release, November 30, 2007:

Scholars from UC Berkeley swept the Open Archaeology Prize competition, held at the 2007 meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR). One of a series of awards around “open archaeology” funded primarily by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, this particular Open Archaeology Prize targeted members of ASOR, a long-standing organization of archaeologists conducting research in the Near East. The winners, who were selected based on their project’s scholarly merit, potential for reuse in research or teaching and availability on the web in a free and reusable format, were announced last week at ASOR’s annual meeting in San Diego.

First Prize, Senior Scholar
First prize for a Senior Scholar was awarded to the team led by Ruth Tringham (Professor, Department of Anthropology) and Noah Wittman (Program Manager, Open Knowledge and the Public Interest) for their website “Remixing Çatalhöyük” ( Remixing Çatalhöyük has been variously described as a database narrative and as a multimedia exhibition and research archive. Launched in October 2007, it features the investigations and data of the Berkeley Archaeologists at Çatalhöyük (BACH) and their colleagues at the Neolithic tell settlement of Çatalhöyük, Turkey. The aim of the website, accessible in English or Turkish, is to engage the public of all ages in the exploration of primary research data through four themed collections that are selected from the research database. One theme on the Life-History of People, Places, and Things – also includes a K-12 activity module. The public are invited to download media items that are licensed with a Creative Commons 3.0 license, create original projects and contribute their own “remixes” about Çatalhöyük. Tringham and Wittman write that the developers of this resource “hope that this project will inspire other researchers to openly share their research data and engage broad public audiences.” Remixing Çatalhöyük represents a groundbreaking effort toward sharing and elucidating the past, and we certainly hope other projects will follow their lead.

First Prize, Junior Scholar
First prize for a Junior Scholar was awarded to Catherine Foster (PhD student, Department of Near Eastern Studies) for her project “Household Archaeology and the Uruk Phenomenon: A Case Study from Kenan Tepe, Turkey” ( Catherine is awarded first place for developing a website on her research involving household studies of a Late Chalcolithic community in the Upper Tigris region of southeast Anatolia. Foster explains that the ultimate goal of this project is to create an open access micro-artifact database that can be used as a reference resource for other scholars wishing to embark on this type of analysis. Because it will be open access, other scholars will be able to add to the database with high-resolution scans and descriptions or alter categories as developments are made. She states, “To my knowledge, no such database is freely available over the Internet and will be a valuable resource as the inclusion of microarchaeological techniques in Near Eastern excavation projects becomes more and more commonplace.” Foster’s project demonstrates a solid foundation in open access and a visionary approach for future sharing of research in archaeology.

Runner Up
A second prize of $200 in books, co-sponsored by the David Brown Book Company, was awarded to Justin Lev-Tov (Statistical Research, Inc.) for his project “Hazor: Zooarchaeology” ( This project presents zooarchaeological identification and analysis of nearly 10,000 animal bones from Late Bronze Age and Iron Age contexts at Hazor, research Justin conducted as part of the Hazor Excavations in memory of Yigael Yadin. By sharing this dataset in Open Context with a flexible license for reuse, Justin is improving access to high-quality research and original data that accompany published syntheses. This dataset has been accessed over 11,000 times since it was uploaded to Open Context in Fall 2006. We hope to see more related content from this time period available in open access formats so that Justin’s dataset becomes even more valuable through comparison with other sites.

The ASOR Open Archaeology Prize competition is sponsored by the Alexandria Archive Institute, promoting the development and use of open educational resources in archaeology and related disciplines. The competition aims to enhance community recognition of open scholarly communication and receives generous support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the David Brown Book Company and the American Schools of Oriental Research.