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Global classroom logs on to Spain’s Sephardic history

TJI Pick
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Published: 18 January 2018

Last updated: 4 March 2024

PROFESSOR ROGER LOUIS Martinez Davila addresses his class under the soaring ceiling of the Museo del Transito, or Museo Sefardi — a 14th-century synagogue, now museum, in the historic Spanish city of Toledo.

But his students are not inside with him: They are watching via a video that’s part of his “massive open online course,” or MOOC, entitled Deciphering Secrets: Unlocking the Manuscripts of Medieval Toledo.

Once, he tells his students, Sephardim worshiped in this gorgeous space, but after the completion of the Reconquista in 1492, they were either expelled or converted.

“It’s one of the oldest synagogues in the city,” Martinez says, “as well as one of the most important structures, religious structures, that survive until today.”

In medieval Spain, and notably in Toledo, Muslims, Christians and Jews lived side by side before the Reconquista and the Inquisition.

It’s a subject that Martinez, a University of Colorado history professor currently in Madrid as a Marie Curie fellow with the Universidad Carlos III, has been exploring online since 2014 with his Deciphering Secrets series of MOOCs.

Today, millions of students worldwide take courses through the relatively recent phenomenon of online learning. As in a traditional classroom, they attend lectures, take quizzes and complete projects. But professors like Martinez are raising the bar.

FULL STORY Old tensions come to life as medieval Spanish synagogue goes online (Times of Israel)

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