Teaching History in the Digital Age

December 5, 2006

Final post, final project

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ammon @ 11:54 pm

Hey all, it was a pleasure to have class with you all. I thoroughly enjoyed  our discussions and the many great insights I learned from you all.

Some of you expressed interest in seeing my finished project. I’d love for you all to take a browse through it’s pages and create your own timeline. I’d also much appreciate any feed back.

Here’s the link: http://gmu.mossiso.com/698/

Have a pleasant Christmas break. I’ll think warm thoughts to you all as I spend the time in warm Arizona. :)

November 28, 2006

Additional resources

Filed under: final presentations, mills — tkelly7 @ 8:35 pm

Here is the report on using digital images in teaching that Ken mention in his presentation.

Here is the History Matters oral history module I mentioned during James’ presentation.

Here is the Historical Event Markup and Linking Project I mentioned (I picked a Bohemian history example).

And for only $150 you too can own a piece of the treasure from the SS Central America (sorry Kurt!).

November 21, 2006

Another Silk Road web source

Filed under: final presentations, mills — tkelly7 @ 10:27 pm

Here is another Silk Road site — a suggestion for Susan.

Project Links

Filed under: Uncategorized, chnm projects, gary — Gary @ 7:58 pm
Part I – Intro and Background 
Intro to Project
Albany Congress Background data 
NYPL Digital Gallery
Part II – Visual Interpretation
Architecture of the Capitol – central scene mural
Join or Die exercise
Part III – Primary source  documents
Roger Trask’s article Pennsylvania and the Albany Congress – inclides primary source quotes
Proceedings of the Colonial Congress held at Albany
Part IV - Role playing exercise - determining Albany Plan 
Part V – Post-role playing exercise
Actual Albany Plan
Franklin’s reflection in 1789

November 20, 2006

Final Project

Filed under: Uncategorized, final presentations, gretchen — Gretchen @ 10:05 pm

Poland’s Cultural Identity and the East

The Baroque era (1562 – 1764) was Poland’s Golden Age.  It was a time when Poland was the largest nation in Europe.  Its geography lent to a crossroads of East and West; a place where Slavs, Russians, Jews, Tartars, and Ottomans influenced a culturally diverse landscape.  Artistic highlights from this period include royal wares, liturgical objects, paintings of nobility and religious images, rugs and textiles including pillaged Ottoman tents, decorative glassware and ceramics, equestrian items, and Hussar armor. (more…)

My final project

Filed under: Uncategorized — Susan @ 12:13 pm

I didn’t see the request to post a summary of our projects until last night, and I am presenting tomorrow, so I don’t know if this is still relevant, but here goes:

 My final project reflects a long-time educational objective going back a decade or so when I myself discovered the fascinating Indian Ocean as a region in connection with maritime history and Islamic history while I was teaching. As I explained, I have recently received a request to help create a web-based teaching materials on this topic at the beginning of next year. I am also creating a preview lesson for the web site for the NCSS annual meeting coming up soon (too soon).

To summarize, the purpose of the web site is at once general and specific. At the general level, it is to bridge with a Sackler Gallery exhibit on Portuguese entry into the Indian Ocean trade after 1498. The bridge will be a backward one into the history of the region  before European entry. I see this as very necessary because many teachers and textbooks leave the impression that (a) the region only became important to global trade after the entry of the Europeans, or possibly, like other important historical movements, there were the Romans and Greeks, then nothing, then the Renaissance era Europeans and then we Moderns; (b) everyone in the Indian Ocean trading region rolled over and played dead the moment Vasco arrived. Well, some did, on the ships the Portuguese waylaid and in the path of the cannons they fired, but the region as a whole did not. Not only did survivals of the regional coasting trade persist well into the era of European dominance, they persist even today. So, for students in survey classes, and for the general public, this web site will provide a visually accessible introduction to the role of the Indian Ocean over a long period, stretching back to ancient times. It will not be a historians’ treasure trove, but it will provide a sample of information that should create an impression of the region that is hopefully memorable.

Pedagogically speaking, this assignment addresses an issue I have been exploring for some time through instructional design, and that is, how to teach the interaction among cultures/societies/civilizations as a distinct topic of study. To bring this concept to the level of the concrete, it involves finding ways to investigate and present the people who were agents of interaction, the places that were scenes of such interaction, and the objects that represent such exchanges. These will be featured through investigation of such primary sources as travel accounts, technologies, port cities, trade goods, artistic objects, and so on, placed in context through the linked map/timeline.

A narrower objective of the web site design is to feature relations between Oman and the US in history, particularly in terms of a voyage and treaty that sealed a very positive relationship between the two in the early to mid-19th century. Ordinarily, this could turn into a multicultural love feast in which I wouldn’t involve myself, but there is another story here that has historical and pedagogical validity. The primary source materials on the voyage of the Peacock and Edmund Roberts’ efforts as merchant and American official provide the opportunity to highlight a formative period in US foreign trade and diplomacy, to investigate the role of trade in the growing US economy, and to give teachers a lesson that can help them to place the teaching of US history in a global context. Most teachers focus on the period after 1800 as Westward Ho! and Inward Ho! The role of commerce on the global stage is not often featured. This investigation of Atlantic-Indian Ocean links through primary source documents will hopefully be an attractive and stimulating lesson that kills several birds with one stone.

I am fairly nervous about how much of this I can put together for the final project, especially because I don’t have more than descriptive powers in the digital realm (and the dreaded PPT arena), so I am focussing my presentation on the Indian Ocean in history, and particularly on investigation of travel accounts as a sample of the use of primary sources and their presentation on the web. By the end of the course, I will have also prepared the sample lesson using the US history materials. The rest of the web development awaits the first of the year through the spring, but this course will have been invaluable in setting the parameters for that development, and making it tons better than it would have been without my exposure to these ideas, technologies, and existing projects.

November 17, 2006

Names of the Naval Academy

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin @ 10:53 pm

My project reflects who I am, especially my future career in the military. I have a great interest in how we remember/memorialize acts of valor, both in and out of combat. Also, in all likelihood the first time I will ever teach a history class it will be at the Naval Academy teaching American Naval Heritage.

With that said, I have decided to take on the subject of William Lewis Herndon and the S.S. Central as mentioned in last week’s class. This is a great story from its very origins. Herndon, in the middle of an exceptional naval career took command of the mail ship S.S. Central America. His ship was struck by a powerful storm that disabled the ship’s boilers.  Captain Herndon went down with his ship and about 3 tons of California “49er” gold. The gold was rediscovered by treasure hunters in the late 1980s, leading to a decade long court battle with insurers. I believe that the story between the ravenous court battle over the gold and the relative anonymity of Captain Herndon, need to be examined and pose an exceptional opportunity to challenge students, promote critical thinking, and encourage professional development as future Navy or Marine Corps officers.

November 14, 2006

When your home is not your castle…

Filed under: final presentations, michelle, projects — Michelle @ 3:24 pm

My interest in history has largely been influenced by my travels over the years.  When I was growing up in New Jersey, my aunt moved to Montague, New Jersey.  On one of our weekend trips there, she took us on a drive along River Road; which parallels the Delaware River.  As we drove along enjoying the fall scenery, I noticed a few Victorian style homes which seemed to be abandoned.  I asked about them and that was my introduction to the Tocks Island Dam project.  At this time (early ’80s) the dam was a non issue, but the uninhabited homes remained.  I filed my curious thoughts away for a later date.

Next, when I moved to Virginia in 1998, one of our weekend excursions was to Shenandoah National Park.  I had visited SNP as a teenager on a family camping trip, but now I could go there almost any time.  We had lots of visitors from out of town our first few years in Fairfax, and Shenandoah was one of the favorite places to take them.  On one of my trips, I picked up a book from the park bookstore about old homesteads still visible along hiking trails.  The book explained how mountain families had been forced off their land to create the national park in the ’30s.  I felt sad for the families…and filed more curious thoughts away for another day.

This year, as part of my summer vacation, my husband and I decided to take the path less traveled home from our summer home in Maine.  We had left our teenage children in the care of their grandparents and had time to ourselves.  We left time so we would not have to hurry back to Fairfax.  We took a detour through southern Vermont (husband loves the mountains there) and then headed south to New York State.  I have a ancestors from the Catskill area and wanted to take my part of the detour through there.  Night fell as we were driving along the shores of the Ashokan Reservoir.  We had stopped for dinner in a small town, but as we continued we noticed that there were almost no roads or houses near the reservoir.  Every so often there would be a signpost for the “former site of…”  I decided to look into what this was all about when I got home.

These three examples of places where people have been removed from an area highlight the consequences of eminent domain.  I find that the project assigned for this class may be the one time I can combine these three snapshots in history together.

 My plan is to examine the effects of eminent domain on the populations which are removed from an area.  As a teaching exercise, I’d like students to consider the decisions which have to be made when weighing the advantages for the many (clean drinking water or recreational areas) versus the consequences to the few (those who have to leave the area). 

I think that these examples are particularly noteworthy because they involve the dissolution of entire communities – not just a few households or a part of a larger community like a neighborhood.  While neighborhoods are significant cultural bodies, in each of the cases I chose a functioning town or towns dissapeared forever.  The memories of those towns live on through the decendents of the inhabitants, and thankfully there is information stored in newspaper archives, books and the internet about those communities.  If I were trying to show a pattern, I would probably try to support a hypothesis that the use of eminent domain is used in a more judicial and less destructive manner today than in the the first half of the 20th century.  In the end, I would like students to consider how they would react if the issue of eminent domain were to touch their lives.  I’d like to show that it is possible to fight, but also show how the “government’s” unfettered access to lawyers and money make it hard to succeed in a practical way against a project which has the sheen of “the public good” attached to it.

 I’ve got a place to begin, and most of a middle, but my ending is still in progress.

Thanks to all for your support….Michelle

November 12, 2006

Should learning history be seen as a “scientific” process?

Filed under: Uncategorized, matthew — Matthew Gravely @ 8:11 pm

Recently, as many of you know, Lendol Calder paid a visit to our class blog, during which he asked the question: “Calder makes history teaching seem so technical, so architectural in its emphasis on design, a critic might conclude. Is this close to what you meant by “scientific”?” I would say “no,” and here is why: Often times, the best and most enriching classes do not fit a specific design or archetypal structure.

After rereading Lendol’s article, Uncoverage: Toward a Signature Pedagogy for the History Survey, I would claim that learning history isn’t as scientific as the question suggests; I believe that he holds a more flexible viewpoint, based on the reading. Moreover, I personally think the point he was driving at was not alluding to a rigid and highly-structured scientific design for learning history, but a design that takes shape gradually over time as students learn what they are being taught. Does this make sense?

For example, Calder states:

“Historical thinking, like other forms of disciplinary thinking, begins with clear-eyed wonder before the world. But questioning is an extraordinarily difficult skill for most students, probably because for their whole lives teachers and textbooks have posed the questions for them (”Write an essay on the following question . . .”). Feeding students a steady diet of other people’s questions is a sure-fire prescription for mental dyspepsia. So the first move students need to learn is that of asking good historical questions. To this end the first meeting in every unit is designed to intensify students’ desire to inquire.”

I think this very concept is important to consider. I would venture to say that most students do not approach learning history based on scientific inquiry. Rather, their minds are more receptive to the information at first, and then logic slowly falls into place, which could resemble a kind of scientific process, based on however one chooses to define “science.” But to think of learning history as something technical? I don’t think I can fully accept that idea, and I am glad that Calder asked the question.



November 10, 2006

Final Project

Filed under: Uncategorized, final presentations, matthew — Matthew Gravely @ 8:19 pm

First, I would like to make the comment that I believe everyone in the class has really good ideas for their final projects. What is also wonderful is that I feel our projects are more the part of a collective effort, and it is great that we all got to exchange ideas during Tuesday’s class.

My idea for the final started off quite innocently. I’ve always known that John Evelyn, the famous 17th century diarist, bares a relation to me on my grandmother’s side. I’ve always had an interest in learning more about the man, yet I’ve never found the time to read his diary; until just recently. This new found interest in Evelyn has given me direction for my final.
In short, the idea for my project is geared towards helping students learn how to read primary sources. I would like to take segments from Evelyn’s diary, Vaclav Havel’s Open Letters, and Fredrick Douglas’ writings and get students to read and analyze them. To equal out the playing field, I would also allow students to choose from women in history, such as , Florence Nightingale, Martha Ballard, Dorothea Dix, etc. The main point of this exercise would be give students the necessary tools for conceptualizing primary sources, as well as getting them to take away the “big picture” from the various writings.

To keep them interested, I would also want them to choose anyone they would like to be from history and get them to act out a certain part of a speech, letter, etc. They would be able to do this in groups to make the effort collective. Of course, their ideas would have to get approved by me, their imaginary teacher. This would be made necessary to eliminate the chance of a student choosing somebody controversial, or offensive.

I sincerely hope this will develop fully in thought as well as in practice.

What do you all think?

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