Tech Happens! Un-Grant, TLT

Guest Post: Archaeology meets Technology in Transylvania

College of Charleston Professor Alvaro Ibarra applied for and received one of TLT’s Ungrant awards in Spring 2015. He requested a Bushnell Range Finder with the funds he was awarded from TLT. He used the range finder over the summer in his work with the Brasov Archaelogical Projects in present-day Transylvania. Here, Professor Ibarra explains more about his work in archaeology, how the range finder was used, and how his research will benefit students this semester.


Professor Alvaro Ibarra
Professor Alvaro Ibarra

Alvaro Ibarra is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art and Architectural History at the College of Charleston. He specializes in Greek and Roman art, architecture, and archaeology. His current research revolves around the strategic uses of Roman military installations on the frontier of the Roman Empire in eastern Transylvania.

Part of this current research project includes the examination of various passes in the Carpathian Mountains, vital lines of communication in the ancient world. In particular, accurate measurements of the width of these passes and first-hand experiential analysis of the terrain aids in gauging their tactical efficacy. These conclusions will help clarify the debates surrounding the Roman invasion of Dacia (present-day Transylvania) and Rome’s strategic use of occupation forces. Such a study is timely in the midst of America’s own occupation of foreign territories.

At the College of Charleston, students frequently experience the benefits of having professors pursuing archaeological endeavors. Active projects expose students to the processes of the discipline of archaeology; they are able to better understand how an idea develops and makes its way from the excavation site to their textbooks. Professor Ibarra will be lecturing on his current findings in his course “Imaging Warfare in the Ancient World” (ARTH 290) this fall.

BAP member, Jeremy C. Miller (S&ME Cultural Resources Management, Charleston) measures the width of the exit to the Tornu Rosu Pass near Boita, Sibiu County, Romania.
BAP member, Jeremy C. Miller (S&ME Cultural Resources Management, Charleston) measures the width of the exit to the Tornu Rosu Pass near Boita, Sibiu County, Romania.

Members of Brasov Archaeological Projects are using the Bushnell Range Finder during the 2015 season to accurately measure the width of various mountain passes used by the Roman army in the conquest of Dacia (present-day Transylvania) in the 2nd century CE.

There are three passes of interest this season through the Fagaras Mountains, the southernmost chain of the Carpathians. These entry points gave the Roman army access to the Transylvanian Plateau, the heart of the kingdom of Dacia. Only archaeological remains serve as evidence of Roman presence, and the extent of their use during the emperor Trajan’s campaign of conquest is up for debate. Textual accounts are fragmentary and sometimes contradictory.

Roman Fort of Arutela, Caciulata, Valcea County, Romania, 2nd to 3rd century CE.
Roman Fort of Arutela, Caciulata, Valcea County, Romania, 2nd to 3rd century CE.

Our task entails measuring the average width of the so-called Tornu Rosu Pass, a second unrecorded pass to the immediate east of the Tornu Rosu Pass, and the Bran Pass. These accurate physical measurements will be compared to geo-referenced data on three more entry points in the western Carpathians. The end result will be a quantification of the completed widths alongside analyses of topographical characteristics for each pass. This assessment will reveal patterns to help scholars better understand the decision-making processes of Roman military tacticians, particularly in campaigns involving mountain warfare.


The Bushnell Range Finder allows project members to accurately record data without having to risk life and limb in especially treacherous terrain. Strategic points atop heavily forested and craggy mountainsides and across the cliff sides of deep ravines in the unforgiving landscape of the Carpathian Mountains are now easily accessible through a welcome bit of technology.

BAP thanks TLT at the College of Charleston for their contribution to this ongoing investigation.

Alvaro Ibarra

Assistant Professor

Department of Art History

ashley brown kayaking
Assessment, Checkout Equipment, Innovative Instruction, iPad, Pedagogy, Tech Happens! Un-Grant, TLT, Video

Guest Post: Using Video In-Class Assessment Under Water!

Our guest blogger is Ashley Brown from Health and Human Performance.  In January Ashley was awarded an Ungrant for an iPod touch.  Her goal was to film her kayaking students while they learn to paddle to help critique their performance and allow them to improve.  Not only is this an interesting experiment into real-time assessment but also into exploring the waterproofing options for tablets and phones.  There are many departments, such as the sciences and education, that can benefit from her trials with using the waterproof cases in the field.  

I won an iPod Touch from the Ungrant through TLT!!

The Goal

My main objective is to video students paddling during their Coastal Kayaking class and give them feedback on their strokes and maneuvers using the Coach my Video app. 

The Challenge

My first challenge was the hardware.  The iPod does not like to work when it is wet.  I have it in a waterproof case and a life jacket to keep it floating, but when I swiped my wet hands over the wet surface the machine just ignored me.  Believe it or not I took it out two times before it occurred to me that the machine doesn’t work when wet, it won’t work when the waterproof case is wet, it won’t work when my hands are wet…so I’m still trying to figure out how to stay dry when I’m wet.   I haven’t tried filming under water, but plan to when it warms up – by then I hope to have solved the ‘dry when wet’ problem

Then, after washing my face one might, I had a revelation; if a towel could dry my face…although I still haven’t figured out how to keep the towel dry.

The iPod is still not a big fan of wet hands, and it is hard to get them completely dry.

The Outcome

I had luck videoing the students and using the Coach my Video app to show them their work. However, I didn’t want to waste class time discussing each video individually, and still haven’t found an easily accessible way to project the video for the whole class to watch.  So my next challenge is to send them their own assessed video. 

I’m enjoying the new technology, and the challenge of using it in an environment where one of the first things I say to students  is, “Lock your electronics in your car if you don’t want to lose them or ruin them!” is ongoing…maybe a really big ziplock bag…I mean really big.

Side note from TLT

We’ll keep following Ashley’s progress as she works through some of these issues.  Check back to see the resolutions and more on student outcomes!  TLT has longterm iPad minis and two waterproof cases available in our Checkout Equipment if you are interested in trying something like this in your classes.

screenshot of the article
Innovative Instruction, instructional technology, Pedagogy, Tech Happens! Un-Grant, TLT

Scanner Self-Portraits: Utilizing a scanner as a way to express identity

Our  guest blogger this week is Tracey Hunter-Doniger in Teacher Education.

scan of a student's hand and artifactsThe Tech Happens! Un-Grant is a small one-time grant intended to assist CofC faulty with innovative technology purchases. These purchases can range from $10 to $200. Through this Un-Grant I purchased a portable scanner to use in my education courses EDEE403 Visual & Performing Arts in Education, EDEE 655 Creativity/Creative Arts in Education, and my spring FYE course.

In each of my courses we discuss life histories and identities of the students through written narrative reflection, and visual narratives (artwork). The theoretical framework of this component is based on McAdams’ (2006) theory of Life Story and Identity, which includes three main segments of inquiry designed to explore one’s identity. These segments are the past, present, and future selves. My students focus on their past self when they create their original scanner self –

The Russian scanner artist, Yulia Yukashova, is the inspiration for the students as they focus on their past. Using a scanner provides a medium ideal for telling a visual story that is likely to have a multitude of items such as trinkets, photos, images, ticket stubs, jewelry, and personal notes. To the students each and every item has a meaning, a memory and a powerful purpose significant to the participants’ past. This modern form of multimedia artwork gives everyone the chance to be an artist. After the portrait is created the students create a written narrative that explains the significant items found in their self-portrait.

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