Final Thoughts

I am a Public History major so I will not be working in a conventional classroom setting. Since I wish to work in a museum, I will still be working in an educational environment. Museums and schools often work closely together to educate students. Some museums have programs to help teachers figure out what parts of the museum will align with the curriculum and activities to use before your visit, during your visit, and after your visit. These activities and other various aspects of museums have the ability to integrate all kinds of technology into their programs. This class has helped me realize that there are many different opportunities for the use of technology within a museum setting.

Every historian and student need to learn how to do legitimate research. By doing a simple Google search, there are a lot of websites with false information that will appear. In an article by The Educators, it explains how to analyze sources. [1] It is important for students and historians to look at the authenticity of a source before reading it carefully. I think this advice is also useful for everyday life. Due to the increasing amount of internet sources, it may be hard to figure out which news sources are authentic, and which are not. Different types of research is conducted every day in various classes and it is important for students to realize what they can trust and is actually useful.

Another useful skill I have learned from this class is how to make a digital collection. This is very important for a historian, no matter what field they go into. Museums have the ability to provide digital collections like this so people can view items without having to visit the museum. David Dry did this with Billy Borne’s cartoons from The Asheville Citizen. [2]. These kinds of collections are extremely useful for those who might not be able to visit a museum or does not have access to be able to go to the museum. Especially right now, people might be looking for educational resources or ways to do something different in order to learn. I really enjoyed learning how to create a collection because it was something that was really intimidating to me. I would not have known about the many free resources that are available to be able to create digital collections. Whether it is for the classroom, museum, or even for general public viewing, I think digital collections are a very effective way to display information for other people to learn about.

Social media is also very important for museums and other educational facilities to use. It can help them to advertise what exhibits that have or share articles they find interesting or useful. Museums can also create hashtags for their visitors to use to share what they learned in the museum, review the museum, or to follow what the museum continues to post about. It was also interesting to learn about the dead presidents that were posting on Twitter. Although it is not always educational posts, it still stimulates interest in history so people who are on Twitter that see these posts may look these people up and want to learn more about them.[3] I have been intimidated by the professional use of social media. Since taking this class, I have realized that professional social media is not as intimidating as I thought it was and that it can very useful for educational purposes.

Overall, I learned a lot from taking this class. I have always been intimidated by technology and media. I feel like I have gathered incredibly useful skills to use in the future, no matter where my career takes me. While the skills I have learned are especially useful for historians and teachers, they will also be useful in my normal life. I hope to utilize these skills in the future and continue to learn about new tools in the media.

[1] The Educator Staff, “How to Help Students Spot Misinformation,” The Educator Online, August 7, 2018. https://www.theeducatoronline.com/k12/news/how-to-help-students-spot-misinformation/253223.

[2] Dry, David. “Homepage.” Cartoon Asheville. Accessed January 12, 2020. http://ashevillecartoonist.org.

[3] Michael S. Rosenwald’s “Dead Presidents Are Mouthing off on Twitter. Nixon Won’t Shut up,” Washington Post, April 6, 2017, sec. Retropolis. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2017/04/06/dead-presidents-are-mouthing-off-on-twitter-nixon-wont-shut-up/.

Final Thoughts

Technology has come a long way over my lifetime, and it has provided a lot of tools to the education field. The COVID-19 pandemic has really put this into the spotlight by making classrooms fully online. I think if you were to go back five or six years ago, the concept of a fully online school curriculum with zoom classes and google classroom would have been inconceivable. Even before this pandemic though, technology is found more and more in classrooms today. The biggest hurdle for me heading into this class, was that I was not a tech wiz. Walking into class on the first day, my in-depth technological knowledge consisted of some high school classes four or five years ago on Microsoft Word and Excel. But while we did learn how to use certain programs like Zotero and Omeka, I think the biggest thing I learned was that you don’t have to be an extremely advanced tech person to effectively use technology in your classroom. Often times it is about learning when to use it as much as how to use it. Simple things like blogs and social media can be really effective ways to incorporate technology in your classroom, while using things that your students and you are most likely comfortable with.

Blogs are a very effective tool that has changed or modified how to have class debates. While in a classroom you may be limited to a certain time frame, blogs can allow your debates to take place anytime and for as long as you want. It allows students to make sure that their voice is heard on a certain issue, whereas in a regular class debate format, you may have to limit them to one response so that other students can be heard as well. Or on the flip side, you may have students that have opinions but are more quiet in nature and do not want to share them to the whole class. But when you use a blog then it allows every students to speak their mind, and they can give as much of an argument as they want since there is no time limit. But blogs can serve other purposes as well. One cool idea I saw throughout this semester’s readings, came from Dennis Fowler, describing an assignment in his class where students would live blog the presidential debates. Fowler noted how students actually enjoyed the assignment, and that for some students it was their first time paying attention to a political event of this nature.[1] I think this shows the benefit that technology can bring to your classroom. You can take an event that I would venture to guess less than 10% of high school students would take time to watch, and through blogging make it an engaging classroom discussion in real time. Now I would probably use this more as an extra credit assignment, but it still provides an avenue to get students engaged in current events and politics.

Another tool that I never pictured in the classroom sense, is social media. A lot of times schools try to find ways to block social media, but through this class I have learned ways to embrace it and use it effectively. Micheal Rosenwald wrote an article in the Washington Post about the rise in popularity of Twitter accounts that write historically accurate tweets. He specifically highlighted an account that showcased Richard Nixon, and the people behind the accounts tweet using the style that Richard Nixon exhibited during his time in office.[2] This would be a really unique assignment you could use, having students “tweet” from the prospective of Thomas Jefferson during his time in office, or Abraham Lincoln tweeting during the civil war. Whoever you use though, it gets students thinking about who their person was and writing it in a style that most of them are already familiar with. The ability to use creative assignments like this demonstrates the value technology brings to the classroom.

Coinciding with the efforts to discourage social media use in classrooms, is the effort to ban cell phones in classrooms. Before this class, I was of the mindset that I needed to ban cell phones in my class as well, mostly from personal experience because I knew that I learned better when I did not have my cell phone sitting next to me. But through this class I learned the benefits of embracing cell phones in classrooms instead of trying to ban them. By using them in your classroom it gives you the opportunity for students to maybe do a photo essay on a certain topic, or allow them to tweet about something in history like the assignment I described above.[3] I think as a teacher you have to strike a balance between using cell phones and needing to put them away. But cell phones do provide a useful tool that can be used effectively in the classroom.

Overall, I think that technology provides new avenues for students to expand their knowledge of history. Using blogs or social media is just two example of a wide range of ways to use tech in the classroom. Plus, five years in the future their will be even more things you can do, since technology is always expanding. As a teacher, it just means that you have to be willing to try something new, and make corrections to it like you would anything else in your classes. So if teachers are willing to use it, there are many ways you can use it to provide the best education for our students.

[1] Fowler, Dennis. “Classroom Blogs: Your Easy Guide to Incorporating Them into Lesson Plans.” Accessed May 7, 2020. https://blog.socialstudies.com/classroom-blogs-an-easy-guide.

[2] Rosenwald, Michael. “Dead Presidents Are Mouthing off on Twitter. Nixon Won’t Shut up.” Washington Post. Accessed May 7, 2020. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2017/04/06/dead-presidents-are-mouthing-off-on-twitter-nixon-wont-shut-up/.

[3] Center for Teaching Quality #CTQCollab. “4 Things You’ll Miss by Banning Cellphones In Your Classroom,” February 24, 2015. https://www.teachingquality.org/4-things-youll-miss-by-banning-cellphones-in-your-classroom/.

Final Thoughts… Garren

Technology is constantly changing, adapting, and by and large improving. Britannica defines technology as “the application of scientific knowledge to the practical aims of human life or, as it is sometimes phrased, to the change and manipulation of the human environment”. By this definition, the art of teaching itself can be seen in a way as a technology, as it is aimed at the practicality of improving human life while on the course of an ever changing format. Whether it was Aristotle pondering the universe in a public way for the ancient Hellenes, or the foundation of the first Universities, there has been an evolution of education that has occured throughout our lifetime. The fundamental mission of early 20th century teachers was essentially the same as our mission is today, to “best teach students about the past so that they might become better citizens of their country”. (1) The difference is the focus that we paint today. whereas past instruction focused on how to better teach history, current instructions places a focus on how students better learn history. With this crucial understanding in place, we can now properly focus on ways to best adapt every course to individual students in order to articulate the best possible learning scenario rather than create a formulaic method of teaching to apply to all students. 

Now introduce the concept of digital technology. Typically one would imagine all of the ways that digital technology can be used in the classroom, or even outside of the classroom. There are thousands if not millions of platforms and templates accessible to students and teachers alike to enhance the learning experience, but such as overflow of information and presentation opportunities can almost be counterproductive if not properly harnessed by the instructor in leading their classroom. With that said, the same presence of technology can cause an unmotivated teacher to lead an underwhelming experience for students, where they are aware of the countless digital opportunities present to be used, however their instructor merely deploys the same tired formula of presentation, simply using a bland digital platform to “enhance” their points, when in reality it is no better than a chalkboard with pictures. Speaking of pictures, even a concept as simple as photography has now been clouded by the digital world. Ever since the mass influx of digital imagery and the gathering of photographs online, it has changed the very way students think about photography as a whole. (2) Students now tend to engage with digital photos as “images” rather than photographs, and they see photographs in the sense of an illustration rather than an actual primary source bounded in fact and reality that was present at the time of the picture being taken. This means that if teachers are not careful, they can allow a disconnect between a student and the actual primary sources that they should be learning history from in the first place. 

With all of this said, technology presents one other large obstacle to instructors as well. Instructors are not the only ones with modern age technological capability, in fact many of our students will be more digitally literate than us as time passes. Because of this, we will be in a war with technology as we also try to harness its capabilities in the classroom. I do not mean a literal sense of technology being difficult, rather that students have access to the internet just as well as the instructor, and there will be a battle between teacher and phone for the attention of the learner. (3) So rather than placing a ban on students use of technology, which will create a rift between instructor, student, and technology, it is a more well orchestrated effort to embrace technology instead. Rather than collecting cell phones at the beginning of class, find ways that students can incorporate their phones into the lesson, that way they get the screen time that they want while you still cultivate their attention. 

There are countless ways that technology will exist in the classroom, some bad, but many good if done correctly. From social media, online resources, presentation platforms, project creations, there are many ways that digital literacy can be introduced to a class, particularly a history class where primary sources and direct student interaction are so important. As long as the teacher takes precaution and attempts to reign in these powers for good, student experience should be enhanced like never before. 

  1. T. Mills Kelly, “Thinking: How Students Learn About the Past” (Chp. 1) in Teaching History in the Digital Age, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2013. 
  2. Martha A. Sandweiss, “Artifacts as Pixels, Pixels as Artifacts: Working with Photographs in the Digital Age” in Perspectives on History, November 2013.
  3. James M. Lang, “The Distracted Classroom,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 13, 2017

Final Thoughts

How have digital tools reshaped the teaching of history?

When I think of teaching history before technology I imagine there was not an abundance of ways to be creative in the classroom. They had chalkboards, books, paper, and pencils. In the early 1900s educational film was introduced in the classroom shortly after the invention of film. Not long after this radio began being used. Teachers would play educational lessons on these new tools that would last about an hour and they would use them a few days a week. People began to wonder if teachers would become unnecessary and be replaced.  Not long after this two new tools were introduced in the classroom. Overhead projectors and the typewriter. These tools allowed teachers to project their writing on a wall for the whole class to see without having to write it all on a board, and of course, typewriters allowed for text to be typed in-home and classrooms. The television was eventually invented and used for educational purposes within the classroom but when the climate around education shifted forever was with the invention of the computer. In the ’70s the United States felt behind the world powers as far as our use of technology so there was a big push for students to be using computers and to become accustomed to a life of technology.(1) From then on the computers and the internet continued to evolve therefore education did as well. In the nineties, one of the most used teaching tools even today was released, Microsoft PowerPoint. When PowerPoint started to be used in classrooms it allowed teachers to put their notes on colorful pages, to use cool transitions, and to even add some fun sounds. It was a very exciting and innovative way to teach at the time. It quickly became something that almost every teacher used daily. Today, all around America PowerPoint is used every day. I do not think that PowerPoint is a bad thing or not useful because so far in my career I have already used it. The problem with it is that many people use it as a crutch because it is so safe, easy, and accessible to everyone.

Today the options we have with technology are pretty much endless. With new teachers emerging from a completely digital world, teaching is transforming by the day. There are so many digital tools, too many to mention, but there are a few that I particularly like that I plan on using in my classroom at some point. My number one favorite tool is social media. I think that social media is so abundant with resources for a history classroom and every teacher should use it at some point. On sites such as Twitter especially students can use it to share their own thoughts but also follow others as well. They can follow hashtags, find historians who write about any certain topic, or even keep up on current events.(2) Teachers need to be aware of how to teach where the world is at their student’s fingertips. They can access anything at any time, so I think it is smart to use that to our advantage and have them learn in ways they feel well versed in.

There are also tools that we can use that students may not feel as comfortable using because they have never had exposure to it. What first comes to mind is Omeka. Omeka is a great tool to not only teach history visually but to also teach students good research practices. No longer do we have to travel to a museum to see an exhibit or a carefully crafted collection of images. We can do this with our students in our own classrooms. Students can find primary source images and build their own collections all while learning history through their research.(3) Digital tools like these allow us to teach history in new and exciting ways but also lets the students learn in ways other than what they typically would that would be more enriching and fun.


Notes

1 Haran, Michael. “A History of Education Technology.” The Institute of Progressive Education and Learning, May 29, 2015. http://institute-of-progressive-education-and-learning.org/a-history-of-education-technology/.

2 EdSurge. “Three Reasons Students Should Own Your Classroom’s Twitter and Instagram Accounts – EdSurge News,” February 3, 2016. https://www.edsurge.com/news/2016-02-03-three-reasons-students-should-own-your-classroom-s-twitter-and-instagram-accounts.

3 Liebman, Laura. “Using Omeka for Teachers.” History & Things, December 13, 2012. https://historicalthings.wordpress.com/using-omeka/using-omeka-for-teachers/.

 

Final Post – Aaron Rigby

The classrooms of tomorrow will be filled with technology. Back in high school, my instructors loved their PowerPoints and plain, school-issued websites. It was such a bore! That is, until I came into my American History II Honors class senior year. My teacher, who we will call Mr. T, believed heavily in the utilization of digital tools to maximize student learning, and so he crafted his own creation; his own website. [1] I share his belief, as his site took students into an exciting past of American progression through Manifest Destiny, Industrial Revolution, and more, featuring visual aids, vocabulary, and useful notes for studying. It is through his hard work that opened my own mind to understand the past and how we Americans grew to be who we are today, through the good and the bad.

While uncommon for the time, using technology to teach history is now a growing into an epic of its own. Educators are now collaborating world-wide and sharing their own work to aid one another in development just as we have in this class. Citing elsewhere, a guest blogger on Education Week created a post where they shared how one can use apps on cell phones such as Snapchat, Instagram, and other social media devices to not only create interactive assignments, but to touch base with parents from home, too! Various other ways they discussed using these apps included the use of “#tags” to group content to be review either by peer or educator. Included in this is the use of school-sponsored social media to discuss content from classes, just as we have in this class using WordPress. [2]

So ultimately how does this change things for the history students of tomorrow? I ask you instead: how could this not? No longer when students walk out of the classrooms does their education simply stop, nor are they seemingly allowed to ignore it for a time. As many of us understand in college, information is readily available online when books cannot be found as we research for our projects and research papers. It was because of this I was able to gather as many sources for my own project and store in Zotero, our source storing app which I used profusely. As the TeachThought staff have pointed out in a blog of their own, students have at their disposal numerous assets to continue furthering their education outside of the classroom and connecting with their educational community to an extent never before seen. [3] These connections to community help students to learn about fundraisers for historic projects, historically-focused study abroad trips, as well as exposing themselves to more career paths, though not limiting to these alone. Not only are students now able continue their education, but they are also able to work on their speech and professional writing (typing!) skills thanks to having specialized educators at their disposal at all times. One may even hope this could be the solution to cringy, so-so “text language” that seems more like a code than anything else.

Similar to “text language,” it is an inherent risk of misconduct with students using the technology available to them. With so much being accessible, students will have a tendency to run astray from topics at hand, or even get lost and carried away in their own research. As Mr. Lang from The Chronicle of Higher Education stated, “Distraction actually arises from a conflict between two fundamental features of our brain: our ability to create and plan high-level goals versus our ability to control our minds…” [4] I feel his statement holds true, as does his blog in how we cannot allow the fear of these risks to stop us from exploiting the possibilities.

Reverting to the top of this post, I remind you of Mr. T’s creation. In an effort to do as he did, I told the past’s story through my own Omeka.com website and add-on timeline by means of KnightLab. [5] [6] Through these items I made an interactive adventure explaining how the events before and during the Peloponnesian War of ancient Greece affected the geopolitical state of the Mediterranean region forever. Though similar to Mr. T’s creation, I took it a step further and drew connections to current events in the South China Sea in relation to the Peloponnesian War, posing the question to readers regarding Thucydides’ Trap. It is my hope that these items will show my students that they may look into the past to guide them into the future. Before this class, I believed I understood what to use for teaching history, but atlas following this class, I know now there are more devices than I can fathom. Thanks to the endeavors endured in this class, it is now my belief digital tools will be the key to the future; the future of history education.

NOTES

  1. “Tayloredteachings.Com.” TAYLOREDTEACHINGS. Accessed May 7, 2020. https://www.tayloredteachings.com/.
  2. Blogger, Guest. “4 Ways to Integrate Smartphones Into Your Classroom.” Education Week – Global Learning. Accessed May 7, 2020. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/global_learning/2018/10/4_ways_to_integrate_smartphones_into_your_classroom.html?cmp=SOC-SHR-FB.
  3. “20 Ways High Schools Are Using Twitter In The Classroom.” TeachThought, February 8, 2020. https://www.teachthought.com/technology/20-ways-high-schools-are-using-twitter-in-the-classroom/.
  4. Lang, James M. “The Distracted Classroom.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 13, 2017. https://www.chronicle.com/article/The-Distracted-Classroom/239446.
  5. “Browse Exhibits · The Mighty Greek War: A Lesson to Be Learned.” Accessed May 7, 2020. https://mightygreekwar.omeka.net/.
  6. “TimelineJS Embed.” Accessed May 7, 2020. https://cdn.knightlab.com/libs/timeline3/latest/embed/index.html?source=1imdVRDFKKMoFJpr0EAg4qH5RYM2PN-FfMTwi0LW-XeA&font=Default&lang=en&initial_zoom=2&height=650.

Final Thoughts… Aaron Gray

This class has taught me the importance of using every tool available, whether it be a smartphone, laptop, or a tablet. When I joined this class, I thought online textbooks would be the main focus, but I have been thoroughly surprised by the amount of tools and techniques that are free to use. Digital tools have changed the game for history teachers, allowing them to create more sophisticated lectures, learning tools, and even interactive studying websites like Omeka and StorymapJS. [4]

History classes in high school for me used to be taught with text books and long powerpoints used across several class days. I remember we only used powerpoint, and it was always long and drawn out. I figured history class had to be like that, but this class proved they could be a lot of fun and can be focused around research, homework, and major projects. I like this idea of history classes more because I can focus my learning on what I am interested in, rather than what the State says I have to learn and how my teachers want to teach it. 

The reading that stuck with me the most would be Kevin Kee and Shawn Graham’s chapter from PastPlay talking about video games in the classroom.[1] I feel like video games can be very influential in getting students interested in history, and is why I got interested in history. Games like the Oregon Trails, Total War, and Assassin’s Creed can be good tools for showing the past in a new light, the first two being role playing games, and the latter being taken with a grain of salt when it comes to linking historical characters to one side or another of an ancient battle between two factions. I think the use of social media can also help stimulate students, because it can help students really research and get into the mind of historical figures, like Richard Nixon’s Twitter page. Using social media can allow students a chance to let their thoughts out on a subject and get feedback from people outside their classroom. It is also a great chance to talk about digital courtesy. [3]

Another thing high school failed to teach me was Chicago style citations. I think high school teachers should show their students how to cite in this manner, so students can learn there are more ways to cite than just MLA or APA. Zotero is a great resource for not only compiling research, but also creating citations and finding metadata from items. If I had known about Zotero in high school, I would have been better at citations and had more practice with different citing styles, like Chicago style. [5] I wish high schools were not so strict on smartphones. I feel like phones can be very useful in both teaching and learning, from Kahoot, to teaching how to responsibly be on social media. Not only these, but also useful to talk to other students and classrooms from all over the world. [2]

This class has taught me a lot about history and researching, and has shown me a lot of my flaws. I need to fact check and double check where I’m getting my research from. For my two projects, I looked into the Greco-Persian Wars, I am proud of how my Omeka turned out, as well as my StorymapJS. My research was lacking for both and I am also lacking in explaining my thought process. Going forward I need to cite better, explain myself more thoroughly, and use more credible cites for my research.

NOTES

Final Post – Olivia Price

I believe teaching should be more about giving the students a way to make the world better. Through out this class we learned a lot of different tools and tricks about how to bring technology into the classroom which I think is a necessity in a time when everyone is an armchair expert simply because we can google anything at anytime.

One of the most Important things we discussed in this class over and over again was the importance of fact checking information all the time. In the article “The ‘Always Check’ Approach to Online Literacy” you can find super simple steps that would be easy to synthesize and incorporate into the classrooms everyday use. This will not only help students in your class but also allow students to have the tools under their belt to take with them into other classes and outside of school. If we are going to encourage the use of technology we also have to prepare students to recognize fake news and half-truths on various media sites.

Along with learning how to fake check we as educators need to also teach students how to properly cite their sources. I do not know how many times I was taught how to cite MLA or APA and even then it was brief over views. And then I got to college and suddenly I was trying and, kind of failing, to teach myself how to cite in Chicago. But if we start teaching our young historians in high school how to use the tools at their disposal early on maybe we can head this additional source of stress off. In class we talked about the usefulness of a classroom Zotero folder that will be curated through out the years as students come into our classroom. I think this is a great idea because it will not only allow students to cite sources efficiently but it will also allow them to keep track of sources we used in the classroom. I for one was always losing at least one article from a class, this, I believe, would really cut down on the use of insufficient sources students might use when they are at home looking for the article they lost. The article “Teaching with Zotero: Citation Management for Feedback and Peer Review” is excellent about detailing the ways teachers can use Zotero allow their students the freedom to help each other spot false information, or a less than reputable website that might have slipped by the other students.

Aside from digital tools that help with citation making and source checking, bringing the use of smartphone, or computers or tablets into the classroom as super important. Not only for the students digital literacy, which they will need in a rapidly changing job market but also because it will help keep them from being distracted in the classroom. James M. Lang discusses this idea in his article “The Distracted Classroom” which he wrote for The Chronicle in 2017. He tells the story of one of his one of his most engaged students. He says she is a great student, always talks in class, takes great notes and passes the tests and then one day he sees her glance in her bag as she checks her texts and he is heartbroken. But instead of chastising her for it he let it wake him up. He realized that even the most engaged students are still susceptible to outside distractions. He goes on to argue that our response as educators should not be to ban cellphones but instead interoperate them into classroom. I think some of the best and easiest ways to do this are through the Clio app which allows students to see the history around them or in places they love to visit.

When writing lesson plans for this class and other classes I have tried to incorporate different digital tools to allow students to feel more engaged while also showing them the kind of power they hold in being able to understand and process what they are taking in when they read an article that someone tweeted or posted on Facebook. Coming into this class I thought I knew how to use technology in the classroom but this class showed me countless more ways to adapt my class to not only engage students while they are in my classroom but to equip them with the tools they need when they leave it. We as educators and historians can not be afraid of technology. We need to embrace it and let it help us teach our students how to become better digital citizens.

Sources:

mikecaulfield. “The ‘Always Check’ Approach to Online Literacy.” Hapgood (blog), August 21, 2018. https://hapgood.us/2018/08/21/the-always-check-approach-to-online-literacy/.

HASTAC. “09. Teaching with Zotero: Citation Management for Feedback and Peer Review.” Accessed May 7, 2020. https://www.hastac.org/blogs/chad-iwertz/2014/02/03/09-teaching-zotero-citation-management-feedback-and-peer-review.

Lang, James M. “The Distracted Classroom.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 13, 2017. https://www.chronicle.com/article/The-Distracted-Classroom/239446.

Clio. “Clio – Welcome.” Accessed May 7, 2020.https://www.theclio.com/about.

Final Blog – Clint Henderson

In the past, history classes have been generically grouped together as boring or dull. Matter of fact, for most of my school life, history classes have mostly consisted of lectures from a projector or PowerPoint, maybe one or two somewhat interesting projects throughout the course. Though this never really bothered me, as I have always been very intrigued in the subject, I can see why people who are not history majors do not enjoy history classes. However, throughout the course of this semester, I have learned lots of different ways to integrate media and technology into teaching history in order to get the most out of a classroom. I’ve learned many new tools, as well as some tools that I already knew about, I just did not know how to connect them to history or teach with them.

Personally, I think one of the most effective ways to incorporate these tools in a history class is with social media platforms. As a whole, almost every high school student around has a smart phone or similar device, and a large percentage of teenagers have multiple platforms of social media, from Twitter, to Instagram, to Snapchat, to everything in between. Social media is growing every day as more and more teenagers gain interest in the ever rising forms of communication. In Jennifer Swartz’ article “Stepping Through the Look Glass: Twitter for Educators“, she discusses several ways to integrate Twitter into the classroom, such as using hashtags or Twitter groups to link students from all over together, as well as different teaching groups that she uses to gain knowledge and discuss different topics with other teachers. In the article by Hannah Hudson, “10 Surprising Ways to Use Instagram in the Classroom“, she also discusses different ways to bring social media into the classroom, for teachers and for students. These include ideas like showcasing student work, capturing field trip moments, recording steps in a science experiment, and many more. This idea was the most shocking to me, as I had never even considered the thought of tying Instagram to a history lesson. Next, we have the use of Snapchat, another major form of social media today. In “4 Ways to Integrate Smartphones Into Your Classroom“, we learn that Snapchat can be used to annotate readings. Not only is this teaching students the material, but it is also interesting and works with something many students are fond of. Overall, I think the thing I picked up the most throughout these readings is that the teaching and learning of history is changing as we speak. It is no longer a boring old projector or PowerPoint, but the social media that students are using everyday. This is a step in the right direction, redirecting history into a positive, more learning friendly environment. To add to these social media platforms, other apps, such as Kahoot.it and many others, are becoming more and more popular. Technology is ever-changing, and we see more advancements today than we did just 5-10 years ago. There is no telling how far it will go, nor how quickly it will get there, so it’s imperative that educators understand that and work towards staying caught up with the changing technology and media around them.

Aside from the social media platforms, I think another tool that will stick with me the most is Omeka. Before this course, I had never even heard of Omeka. I honestly had no clue this kind of interactive tool even existed. However, through reading about it in the article “Using Omeka for Teachers“, I knew that I would love it. In the article, it is obvious that Omeka is very versatile and easy to use. Through Omeka, you can create a webpage and class collections, and you can allow students to read, write, and create a historical narrative of their own, rather than just reading about one. The article also discusses several way students can use Omeka, such as create digital collections of images, videos, and sound files. I chose to use Omeka for my final project and created an interactive lesson plan with the project, and found it extremely easy to use. In addition, Omeka made it extremely easy to store and organize large numbers of files. In the project, I used still images, videos, and different texts, and did not have many issues with any of it. Omeka is one of many interactive media/technology tools that can be extremely useful and fun when incorporated into the classroom. I will definitely be using this tool, probably even the project/lesson plan I already created in my future classroom.

Overall, I would say my ideas of teaching history have changed enormously throughout the semester. Coming into the course, one of the things I was most worried about was my lack of knowledge with new technology and digital tools. And to be honest, I hadn’t even really thought about teaching history with any of these tools. But after reading about the numerous ways to spice up history classes with these digital tools, media, and technology, I can say with confidence that I will be using all of these in my classroom. While I am certainly not a technology wizard, using the different tools throughout the semester and becoming familiar with them made me a lot more comfortable with the thought of teaching history! The course left me with several assets that I will carry into my future classroom, and I am excited to see how I will utilize the things I learned in this class, as well as how much technology changes between now and then!

NOTES

Stepping Through the Look Glass: Twitter for Educators

10 Surprising Ways to Use Instagram in the Classroom

4 Ways to Integrate Smartphones Into Your Classroom

Using Omeka for Teachers

Final Post by Zackery Ward

Today’s history classroom can be far different from what it was in the past. Instead of a lecture-based system of rote memorization, modern digital tools allow for much deeper engagement with the source material and a wider range of methods to impart knowledge and historical thinking on students. The latter of those is something that was severely lacking in my high school education. Every class I took was lecture based and focused entirely on memorizing certain names, dates and events. If anything, I became a history major despite my high school education, not because of it. This was due to a genuine interest in this area of study, and I often found myself looking into things on my own that were glossed over or not even covered in class. Teaching for the test is a real thing in public schools and PowerPoint works well in that instance, but it does not pass on the skills that are required to be a true historian.

One of the biggest things that is being done today that was seriously lacking in the past is using these tools to visualize data and information in a more meaningful way. John Rosinbum’s article “Exploring the Brutality of Expansion” is an excellent example of this. He provided links to websites like American Panorama which has several different interactive maps. [1] These maps show change over time in a way that feels less abstract than just mentioning numbers. Different people learn in different ways, and someone who understands the scope of say, forced slave migration in the US for example, from a numbers perspective would be fine just reading the information. A visual learner, however, would get far more from one of these interactive maps than a lecture or simply reading the information. There are many more examples of visualizing the past. I learned how to use the TimeMapper tool this semester, which is a fantastic way of showing a timeline of events, as well as where each of these events took place. This tool allowed for a description of the event, when it took place, a photograph, and a google maps tag placed where the event occurred. This allows students to get a full understanding of who, what, when, where and how in a much faster way.

Cell phones are another example of technology that can and should be used to teach history. During my time in high school, cell phones were seen as a distraction and were never to be taken out during class time. We were not even allowed to have them at the lunch tables believe it or not. James Lang makes the argument that if people feel they have some control over their goals, and want to achieve them, they are more likely to complete those goals without being distracted. [2] Student’s will be distracted whether they have cell phones or not if they aren’t properly engaged but having them interact with the material on their cell phone is a great way to avoid this problem. Giving cell phones an educational purpose eliminates the easiest possible distraction, while at the same time giving students a more direct involvement in the lesson. For example, using them as poll takers keeps student-focus on answering the questions and gives the teacher instant feedback on their students’ grasp of the subject matter. This is real time information gathering that is not possible without modern technology and tools like Poll Everywhere and Socrative. [3]

Digital Tools have provided a plethora of different ways for teachers to engage their students. Building an Omeka archive or creating a timeline of events are ways that teachers can engage students and have them work with the material on their own with guidance available if they need it. This teaches them organizational skills, but more importantly, building something yourself helps cement the information in your mind better than just writing notes while a teacher lectures. History is much less boring and far more engaging to the average person if they feel like they have an active role in their learning. Technology also provides ways to better teach disabled students. Podcasts are a great way to get visually impaired students involved in digital storytelling, whether that be making one or listening to one. [4]

Digital tools have allowed history teachers to move away from the standard PowerPoint lecture and provide a better education to their students. Instant feedback from tools like Poll Everywhere is extremely useful for a teacher to understand what they need to spend more time focusing on and whether they should change tactics or not. Tools like TimeMapper and Omeka are also great ways of changing the method of information delivery to reach different students with different learning styles. Various tools even provide a workaround to give disabled students the same meaningful experience that the average high school student can have. These tools have completely changed the landscape of teaching not just history, but every subject, for the better.

Notes:

[1] John Rosinbum, “Exploring the Brutality of Expansion: Perspectives on History: AHA,” Exploring the Brutality of Expansion | Perspectives on History | AHA, accessed May 7, 2020, https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/summer-2017/exploring-the-brutality-of-expansion-tracking-changes-in-the-19th-century-with-american-panorama).

[2] James M. Lang, “The Distracted Classroom,” The Chronicle of Higher Education (The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 13, 2017), https://www.chronicle.com/article/The-Distracted-Classroom/239446).

[3] Greg Kulowiec, “Cell Phones as Classroom Tools,” Teachinghistory.org, accessed May 7, 2020, https://teachinghistory.org/digital-classroom/tech-for-teachers/25273).

[4] Jamie Rogers, “Overcoming Obstacles: Visually Impaired Student Works with Professor to Turn Digital Storytelling Assignment into Podcast,” George Mason University, May 6, 2020, https://www2.gmu.edu/news/419301?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=newsdesk&utm_term=research&utm_content=Jamie_Rogers&utm_campaign=FY17_twitter_050417).

Final Post by Charlie DeJournette

Before I signed up for this class, I though there was two ways to teach history. One way to teach history is to have a power point slide up with information as you talk or the teacher would just talk in front of the classroom while the students take notes. Now that I am almost done with this class, I have realized that there are so many different ways to teach history and that there are different digital tools to help teach history.

One digital tool that has reshaped the teaching if history is blogging. Before college, I have never heard of blogging for school. I thought blogging was more of like a fun thing to do outside of class. I read an article that changed my thinking called “Classroom Blogs: Your Easy Guide to Incorporating them into Lesson Plans.” The article showed how teachers can use blogs for their subject and how easy it is to use. (1) Students can blog about how they feel about a certain topic, debate and discuss about different historical events and its fun. (1) For example, I can teach about the Civil war and I would have the students do a quick blog in class about “should the Union and Confederacy go to war or is there a better solution to not cause a war? This would get the students to think about the subject and what I lectured about and the students can debate on their answers to their classmates. Blogging is very easy to use, I am currently use WordPress and it is very easy to use. The students will have a easy and I as the teacher will have an easy time monitoring them while they discuss the topic and debate with their classmates. This tool is a lot better than me standing in front of the classroom with a powerpoint in the front of the classroom and I talked all day.

Another digital tool that has reshaped the teaching of history is Visualization tools. For visualization, I always thought it was just pictures you can find on the internet. But i realized that there are visualization tools that can help you present data for your lesson. In the article called “The 14 best data visualization tools” it explains the different visualization tools and how to use them. (2) Some of the tools are used to create charts like FusionCharts, Chart.js, Google Charts, Highcharts, and Datawrapper. There was a tool called Timeline Js that helped create timelines. There was another tool called Leaflet that helped you create interactive maps. There was another tool to make different graphs. The article lays out a very descriptive way on how you can use these visualization tools to display your data.(2) The article helps you understand how easily it is to use the visualization tools and how it will help you with your lesson.

I have personally used Timeline Js to make a timeline on the Spanish explorer Hernan Cortes and it was fun and easy to use. On the timeline Js website, there is a detailed list and a video explaining how to create a timeline. With timeline Js you can create a timeline and put pictures, maps and charts on your timeline to give a little “wow” to it. Its better than a powerpoint with pictures about Hernan Cortes because the timeline is interactive to where you can add google maps. With google maps the person and view the whole map and certain parts of the map. You can even use a google image where you can look around. I used google image for where Hernan Cortes went to school until he wanted to explore the New World. You can literally look around the school and see what it looks like today, so it makes it fun to look around and gives you a new approach.

Another digital tool that has reshaped the teaching of history is story boards. There is an article called “What is a Storyboard?” This article explains what is a storyboard and the purpose of a storyboard. A storyboard is like a comic strip that plans out a narrative. The purpose of a storyboard is to present visual information and the direction the story goes is perfect for telling a story, explaining a process, and showing the passage of time. (3) Its a great way to focus on important scenes from the story and help the students visualize what they are learning. This can be a great thing to use in class because History is like telling a story to your class. For example, If i wanted to teach about the Revolutionary War, I can create a storyboard full of images and text to present the most important battles in the Revolutionary War and the generals that led their army to battle. There are plenty of storyboard templates to find that are free to use online or you can create your own.

I used a storyboard before i created my digital storytelling video and the storyboard helped me figure out what I want to focus on and what to leave out in my video. The template was available on wordpress, but I found plenty of storyboard templates online for free. It was very easy creating a storyboard, you just have to figure out what story you want to talk about, the pace of the story, what scenses you want to focus on, what pictures do you want and what text do you want in your storyboard. I used those questions to create my storyboard to help me create my digital storytelling video. It was very helpful to me to layout on what I want to put in my video and what I shouldn’t put in my video. It was very easy to use and create my own storyboard for my digital storytelling video.

Notes:

(1) Fowler, Dennis. “Classroom Blogs: Your Easy Guide to Incorporating them into Lesson Plans.” SocialStudies.com, August 27,2019, https://blog.socialstudies.com/classroom-blogs-an-easy-guide

(2) Sharma, Nishith. “The 14 best data visualization tools.” The Next Web, April 21, 2015, https://thenextweb.com/dd/2015/04/21/the-14-best-data-visualization-tools/

(3) Byrne, Richard. “What is a Storyboard?- History and Use Cases.” Free Technology for Teachers, June 28, 2018, https://www.freetech4teachers.com/2018/06/what-is-storyboard-history-and-use-cases.html