Timeline Travel: An Alternative Tool for Architectural History Learning and Teaching
This project has been awarded Erasmus+ KA203 fund in 2017 and started on 1 September 2017. This two-year long project is coordinated by Gaziantep University and has three partners (University of Bologna, Italy; University of Humanities and Economics in Lodz, Poland; and Yeditepe University, Turkey).
Architectural history classes are generally described as one of “the least enjoyable courses” by undergraduate architecture students. Most of them feel themselves forced to learn the histories of the buildings and try to memorize their construction dates, builders or styles, rather than creating genuine connections, discovering analogies or establishing bonds between the history and the architecture evolving with it. Conventional architectural history teaching models lag behind the cognitive capacities of architecture students who are more inclined to visual learning.
Therefore, this project aims to create an alternative architectural history teaching and learning tool (Timeline Travel) that would trigger visual cognition with the help of a timeline and a map. Accessible through a web-page, this tool will be designed so that it could be used both as an e-learning platform and as a teaching/learning/research companion. Timeline Travel will initially be prepared for two historic cities: Istanbul in Turkey and Ravenna in Italy. It will give the learners the chance of making time travel while studying architectural history. Accordingly, the primary target groups of the project are higher education students and teachers of architectural history; and approximately 150 students, 100 academicians from partner institutions and 150 architectural historians within Europe will be directly reached via project activities.
Another objective of this project is creating a cultural and historical awareness among the citizens of Europe thorough architectural histories of their cities and countries. By making this tool available and easy-to-use for a wider audience from a K12 student to an elderly, the project aims to reach almost every individual through the project website, and it is ambitious to become a global tool for learning and discovering architectural histories. Another significant objective and long term benefit of this project is to develop the Timeline Travel in a flexible way so that it can be adapted to other fields, such as history, art history, archaeology or urbanism, in the near future. Thus, the impact and EU benefit of the project will be greater.
Interdisciplinary nature of the project blending software technologies, architectural history and education science required a transnational, enthusiastic, innovative and energetic team. Each partner institution and all members of the project are experts in their own fields and produce five intellectual outputs collaboratively: Timeline Travel tool for visualizing data; its prototype content, i.e. architectural history databases of Constantinople/Istanbul and Ravenna; Timeline Travel e-learning platform; new curricula designed and tested for this platform, and a user profiling software to improve success of learners.
The project is also highly innovative as it will be able to semi-automatically create architectural history databases for other historic cities such as Rome, Berlin, Athens or London. It will also be adaptable to other fields and likely to create many spin-offs at the end of the project, including literature (e.g. timeline of writers where you can browse through book covers), urban planning (e.g. timeline of urban expansion of cities), evolution (e.g. timeline of species and their distribution over the world), etc. The power of data visualization will create its own magnet in academia as it will improve learning speed significantly.
The expected impact of the project is a significant improvement in architectural history learning capacities and ability to make novel interpretations and analyses. As the students –as well as teachers- would save time in learning architectural history, they will have opportunity and ability to establish connections with the architectural works and political, social, economic and cultural developments, since the buildings reflect evolving constraints of their time with different styles, scales and types. Another significant impact will be the ability of students to study and learn architectural history on their own and without the need of an instructor. Timeline Travel aims to reach every individual at local, regional, European and international level, as it can well be used as a companion to discover architectural histories of cities, or adapted for other uses, such as a visual diary.
Unibo team leader: