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!