Having watched the lectures for the prior learning unit on video, I was prepared to enjoy the video lecture presentation for this learning unit. I previously found the presentation of lectures in the video format to be very convenient because I could observe at my own pace, rewind if I missed part of the lecture, have flexibility about when I was viewing the lecture, and not be distracted by the behavior or questions of other students. I acknowledged that there were some negatives to the video-learning environment, such as missing out on the organic and natural question and answers that develop in a live classroom setting, but had decided that missing those was an acceptable trade-off given the other benefits that I was receiving from the video lecture environment. Therefore, I was surprised to find that I did not enjoy the video lectures for this learning unit as much as I had enjoyed the lectures for the prior unit. Instead, I felt as if the video lectures limited what I learned during my "classroom" time.
I believe that the topic of the lectures made a significant difference in my ability to enjoy and observe the material in the lectures. For the previous unit, I was somewhat familiar with the time period; at least I believed that I was familiar with the unit. Much of my knowledge was based on historically inaccurate movies or fictional representations, so that I was constantly having "a-ha" moments while observing the lectures. I felt very differently about this material, because I did not feel as if what I already knew about it was erroneous. Therefore, the new information that I received in the lectures was not new, but it was not necessarily surprising. Even in a video lecture environment, I found myself having a difficult time concentrating.
After viewing these lectures I came to the conclusion that I was not dissatisfied with the idea of video lectures, but that I was actually dissatisfied with the lecture itself as a teaching tool. To me, I feel like lectures are a very passive learning experience, which is not the optimum way to learn. I think that an online learning environment offers so many different opportunities for more active learning that the use of a videotaped lecture is, in many ways, a failure to fully utilize the online learning environment. There are so many ways that an online learning course can incorporate other elements outside of the traditional lecture environment that I began to feel as if the videotaped lecture offered me an incomplete experience.
However, there were things about the videotaped lectures that I continued to find useful and helpful. First, I oftentimes find myself fascinated by minute details in a lecture and desire to learn more about them. In a traditional classroom lecture, it would be possible, but extremely rude to attempt to find out more information about an interesting topic on my own. Moreover, even though an in-person lecture provides opportunities for questions and answers that do not exist in the videotaped lecture environment, I feel as if many times lecturers feel inconvenienced by questions that stray too far from the central topic of the lecture that is being presented. This is understandable, since lecturers have a limited amount of time in which to present a set amount of material. One of the benefits of the videotaped lecture is that I can pause during the lecture and research information about topics that I find interesting during the lecture without derailing the lecture for the rest of the students.
I also found that I did not participate as much with the videotaped lecture format. I understand that I am still able to ask questions and interact with the instructor, and I need to make it clear that I do not feel as if I have been discouraged from doing so. However, the reality is that I did not make it a priority to investigate further learning opportunities. What would have been natural and organic in a live lecture environment, asking questions and receiving immediate answers, not only from the professors but also in the form of feedback from other students, seemed much more contrived and artificial to me after watching a videotaped lecture. It made me miss some of the elements of a live lecture, even while I was lamenting the passive nature of a lecture as a teaching tool.
Despite the issues that I had with the videotaped lecture format this time, I did find it helpful that I could divide the lecture into the subcomponents that I felt led to a natural division. Rather than sitting down and listening to each lecture as a whole, I was able to sit and listen to parts of each lecture, and, when there was a transition, I could pause and return to that part of the lecture at a later time. I felt as if this gave me some way to counteract the natural weakness of the lecture as a teaching tool, which is that lectures are frequently too long because of the limitations that lecturers have with classroom availability and days that a student is available in the classroom.
Although I am far more critical about the videotaped lecture format this time than I was last time, it would be erroneous to suggest that I found the format completely unhelpful. On the contrary, there were many things about the format that continued to appeal to me. The flexibility of watching a videotaped lecture, or of participating in any type of distant learning, is such an important aspect of the learning environment. Time constraints have long been a substantial barrier for people hoping to pursue their educations and the videotaped lecture format means that I can watch lectures at my convenience and in increments that better fit into my lifestyle than traditional classroom lectures.
The topic that I found most fascinating was the important role that gender played in Greek society. I knew that Greek society favored males, but I was fascinated by the fact that this favoritism towards males was not incidental, as it is in many modern societies, but was an integral part of Greek society. From the beginning of Greece to the role of women in everyday society, gender played an important role.
For example, I had always known that Greek societies were referred to as Hellenic. I had generally assumed that this name was derived from a woman's name; I thought it was Helen of Troy. That thought, along with the role that the goddesses played in Greek religion led me to the conclusion that Greek may have been a patriarchy, but that it was not misogynistic in any way. This conclusion was erroneous. First, I discovered that while the Greeks may have decided that they descended from Helen, it was not from a woman named Helen, but from a man named Hellen. Moreover, they traced their ancestry through Hellen's three sons: Dorus, Xuthus, and Aeolus. Xuthus had two sons, Ion and Achaens. The four geographical regions were named for Dorus, Aelous, Ion, and Achaens. Presumably, one would imagine that Hellen may have also had daughters or that one of his three sons would have had daughters, but they were not memorialized in the naming of Greece as their father was.
In addition, the political leadership of Greek city-states (polis) was patriarchal. In many ways it resembled a clan system and was a type of aristocracy. However, only males had any type of leadership ability and powers within these units. Moreover, the power was not strictly limited to the aristocrat that was in charge of the area. Instead, for males, there was a significant amount of freedom, which would differentiate the aristocracy in a polis from the aristocracy one might imagine in later European feudal systems. The free male citizens in a polis would gather for symposiums where they would eat, drink, and discuss values and politics. In this way, they formed a "good old boy" network that was effectively in charge of running each smaller local area. Even when the aristocracy fell into disfavor, the leadership of Greece remained very male; oligarchies, which eventually ran Greek government, were composed solely of men, and those men were the wealthiest in their polis. Oligarchies transitioned into tyrannies, which eventually became a democracy. However, Greek democracy differed tremendously from the modern concept of democracy, though it was very similar to democracy as it was embraced in the fledgling United States: participation in Greek democracy was limited to free land-owning males, with women deprived of any right of citizenship and political participation.
The subjugation of women went far beyond the routine denial of the right to participate in the democracy. This should come as no surprise; because women were not allowed to participate in the creation of laws, it is not unusual that they did not benefit from those laws. While these gender disparities existed in most variations of…