Who are we Our News Members' Stories Learning from the archaeological science experts - remotely Kimberly Winter has been a NAS member for two years and has found many ways to be part of the NAS community even from remote locations. Here she writes about her most recent online learning experience with us. I have always been drawn towards the sea, coastal environments and beaches. Admittedly living in Scotland, adventures along the coastline, and onwards into the waves, often include not only sand and sea but a great deal of rain, sleet, and a standard cacophony of crying seagulls! Image: Kimberly Winter on Iona, Inner Hebrides, Scotland I have just finished my Masters in Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh – during which I discovered the NAS community. As a NAS member, I have been lucky enough to explore the mixture of inclusive eLearning and online courses which engage in so many wonderful topics. As someone who often finds themselves in remote areas – these are brilliant! Not only am I able to learn about topics that interest me, I can also develop my understanding and skill-base alongside the online sessions that do not feel like ‘flat’ online courses from my home. Image: part of the NAS community at the online course When I saw the Archaeological Science and Conservation of Marine Finds course, I knew straight away that it was something that interested me, and as I read the course description my excitement continued. This was something I could partake in! From Scotland!! During a break between my undergraduate and masters, I worked in a different field and wanted to make sure that I still engaged with a wide range of archaeological skills and training that are current and reflective to my interests and study. I was drawn to exploring, and understanding, more about the scientific techniques used within maritime archaeology having spent much time studying the Hebrides and coasts! The NAS courses have allowed me to pursue my studies and I’m now at the beginning of the application process for PhD! On the Archaeological Science and Conservation of Marine Finds course, there was an array of pre-recorded information via video sessions to be watched prior to the event, which was combined with an online live discussion and presentations through a video link. This made it particularly appealing as there felt to be the element of human participation through the online session! Image: advert for Archaeological Science course The course had six online pre-recordings, which totalled some three hours, to be completed prior to the online live session. These were led by specialists within the field Angela Middleton - Senior Archaeological Conservator at Historic England Ruth Pelling - Archaeobotanist at Historic England Polydora Barker - Senior Zooarchaeologist at Historic England Francesca Gherardi Material Scientist at Historic England The recordings ranged in topic from artefact ‘first aid’ – the initial steps of caring for an artefact to sampling plant remains from wreck sites and the potential information gained from well-preserved plant remains on wreck sites. They also covered understanding the types of zooarchaeological remains recovered from wreck sites as well as their context, an introduction to material science including learning about the scientific techniques used to examine how, where, why and when different materials were made. And finally, an introduction to archaeological conservation in more detail exploring the commonly found shipwreck materials, and how these may change over time. Added to the wonderful base and range of knowledge given by the team, there was a depth of knowledge to our learning through connection to case studies and relatable based inclusions – meaning that we could (hopefully) apply the overview of techniques to our own research interests. The pre-recordings could be taken at my own pace, and I thoroughly enjoyed each evening prior to the course, immersing myself in my notes with the noise of my own sea crashing just beyond my window. I was able to take the videos in bitesize chunks, and truly consider the information – this was important as part of the online live session included quizzes to check our understanding of the videos! The day of the live session approached, as every good online-learning based session does, with learning how the software works! Something that, due to the aftereffects of Covid, I am less nervous of! I loaded up zoom, excited for the buzz of the panel! The format of the session followed a tremendous flow, and it was easy to forget that I was sat at a screen as I was so deeply immersed in each contributor. First, each subsection would begin with an overview of the recorded lectures, followed by our little exam. This lasted a few minutes, and was parallel to an opportunity for questions and answers on the information in the recorded sessions. This was followed by a more ‘in depth’ lecture session, moving beyond the basics! Again we passed through the specialisms and specifics of the care, identification and interpretation of underwater conservation, biological remains and scientific analysis! We had the experience of talking to (such impressive) experts who were the most inclusive, and passionate about their topics, all done without obnoxious jargon. The course encouraged us to think critically using the skills presented in the recordings, and to engage with the case studies in each lecture session. They showed us through the final case study that although they had spent time outlining each of their fields, each specialism worked together as a team to create a seamless process of scientific investigation – from initial recovery to long term storage and research. And this isn’t all! For those that can get to Portsmouth, there is a follow up, hands-on session where participants can develop these skills with such a wonderful team! From the distance-learning, to the interactive-online through to the in-person course– NAS offers so many opportunities! Next year's NAS Education Programme will be available soon for booking. Stay tuned for more exciting opportunities to learn online or in-person.