All roads lead to Rome - via La Trobe

Podcasts by lecturer in Ancient Mediterranean Studies, Dr Rhiannon Evans, recently hit the number one spot in the United States' Top Collections on Apple's iTunes University.

The series about ancient Rome held that position for more than a week.

It also topped iTunes U collections in the United Kingdom, says La Trobe Digital Content Producer Matt Smith, and made it to number two in Australia. 

Titled 'Emperors of Rome', it achieved more than 40,000 downloads in November.  So far there have been seven podcasts on Julius Caesar, the current ones are on Augustus – and Tiberius is next in line.

La Trobe was one of the first Australian universities to provide courses on iTunes U. Last year it offered its first year subject 'The Ancient Roman World' for study through iTunes U.

(By December 10 the series had rocketed from iTunes U to second place on the entire Apple iTunes Podcast Store – ranking in the top five with This American Life, How Stuff Works and Hamish and Andy, achieving more than 85,000 downloads.)

Innovative approach to learning

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor Jane Long says the latest result illustrates La Trobe's progress 'as a leader in innovative approaches to learning and research.'

Dr Evans says Ancient Rome, and classical civilizations in general, continue to be a source of fascination for both students and the wider community.

Head of Humanities Professor Chris Mackie says this has been an excellent result for Dr Evans who – along with colleague Sarah Midford – has also just won a University Teaching award, as well as for production staff involved.

'It's also a very interesting result in that public demand for ancient European history is being met by a university at the other end of the world.' he adds.

Matt Smith, who hosts and produces the series, says he became curious about the ratings after a spike in emails from around the world asking when the next episodes would go to air. 

Listen to the series

Media contact: Ernest Raetz, 0412 261 919

Listen to ABC 774 Radio Melbourne interview with Dr Evans