Turpin

Swarthmore professor extends his Latin classroom far beyond the boundaries of campus

A creative Latin professor at Swarthmore College has been using technology to extend informal learning beyond the boundaries of Swarthmore. For the last three summers, Prof. William Turpin has hosted a free, public, online course on Medieval Latin translation. He has been assisted by colleagues Bruce Venarde (University of Pittsburgh), Carin Ruff (Hill Museum & Manuscript Library) and Jen Faulkner (East Longmeadow High School, MA), who helped him to facilitate the weekly sessions. According to Prof. Turpin:

The intention of this course is to replicate to the extent possible the experience of a student in (say) a college Latin class at the early intermediate level, minus the quizzes, tests, and continuing assessment, there is no mechanism for awarding credit or certificates of attendance.  The most immediate model, in fact, may be an informal reading group devoted to a particular ancient or medieval text.  The basic premise is that a small community of interested participants can both encourage and enhance what is essentially a private encounter with a text.

Each year, Turpin and his collaborators identify a new body of text to work on. This year, participants took turns translating from “The Life of St. Martin” by Sulpicius Severus, They met synchronously in an online conferencing environment in weekly sessions over the summer. Panelists could see and hear each other, but observers were welcome to follow along on their own. 

For the first two years, Turpin’s course met in Google Hangouts, but they switched this year to take advantage of Swarthmore College’s new Zoom conferencing service. The sessions are recorded and available for viewing any time thereafter on his YouTube channel.