The idea that a city heavily influences how art, culture, and even knowledge impacts the citizens is nothing new. For centuries, cities have left a meaningful long-term mark on our culture and understanding of the world. Be it Rome with all its glory that has impacted our understanding of society and elite democracy or Istanbul with its success as one of the first multicultural metropolia, cities plays a significant role in our lived experiences.

 

Following in that tradition, Teaching Atlanta has been a project that has aimed to co-opt the city of Atlanta into the learning experiences of not just university students but students at even the school level. The concept is straightforward; integrate the city we inhabit into our understanding of the world around us. For that purpose, Teaching Atlanta is not just a mere website, it is a repository of meaningful assignments and content that is shared by academics across disciplines with those who wish to incorporate the cityscape into class discussions.

 

The course content available is shared by academics from different disciplines who have successfully made the city’s history, culture and geography a part of the learning experience. Courses like the one designed by Maurice Hobson help the students and teachers realize how Atlanta has impacted the notion of being an island of growth for African Americans in the new American south. Other courses like Dr. Trask’s Urban Built Environment, consider the historical design and built an environment of Atlanta through the years.

 

Coupled with interactive assignments, these courses help students learn in the very environment where they attend college. Assignments like Book Mapping of Atlanta and Atlanta Monuments involve techniques like historical research, fieldwork as well as the use of multimedia tools to not only help the students learn more about Atlanta but to learn the techniques themselves.

 

In essence, what a project like Teaching Atlanta does is that it converts the space that we take for granted i.e. the space in which we exist, learn and work into an interactive learning environment where students get to practice tools and implement them. It is one thing to learn about mapping and geotagging, it is another to visit those places and see the need for mapping them accurately and geotagging the necessary information to each pinpoint. This applicability in a real-world aspect not only helps the students understand their urban space better it also helps them understand how tools and theories learned in class are implemented in real life and the kind of limitations that come with it all.

 

Teaching Atlanta as a project fits into the larger aim of what the Student Innovation Fellowship aspires to encourage i.e. helping students and faculty enhance the learning experience by allowing the use of technology. SIF helped Teaching Atlanta create a more user-friendly website while also contributing to the assignments and syllabi aspect of the project.