Prompt: Write a blog post in response to our class on digital history.
This week in class we discussed digital history. We have been focusing a lot on how we can use modern technology within the classroom in order to teach history. This particular week, we looked into resources that reveal historical trends. Technological tools can be a powerful source in teaching history to our students. Not only do they provide an alternative visual, but they are also often times hands-on, allowing students to interact with the tool and discover trends on their own agenda. I think that there are many benefits in allowing students to use different technological tools. First of all, provided with the proper resources, students can use these tools individually, instead of one visual up on the board. These days there are excellent hands-on tools that students can interact with on their own. Therefore, instead of the teacher showing students what they want their students to get out of the graph or visual, students can come to their own conclusions and create their own ideas about what they see. In the GapMinder for teachers page, we watched a video about students exploring a GapMinder graph called “Wealth & Health of Nations.” These students reflect on their own conclusions and conjunctions about what the graph is revealing to them.
I am a firm supporter in emphasizing trends throughout history when we teach history. It is a crucial aspect of looking at stories of the world. It helps students to make connections and to see the bigger picture. History doesn’t only need to be viewed and taught by time periods. It can also be taught by specific topics and factors that we can explore throughout time. Sources like gapminder, Google nGram Viewer, and New York Times’ “Chronicle” allow students to explore trends throughout time. Chronicle is an excellent source that shows how often a specific word was mentioned in New York Times newspapers throughout American history. For example, the frequency of which the word feminism was mentioned spiked during the1910’s and the Women’s Suffrage Movement, and then was barely mentioned again until the 1970’s. This can help students to infer a lot about feminism in American history. However, I think that this is a limited source because it only refers to the frequency of words in this one newspaper, therefore Ngram Viewer is a good alternative, featuring all written literature.
All of these tools provide teachers with alternative sources. Teachers nowadays are no longer limited to their own sources and ideas, as these tools are created and shared online. Furthermore, technology also opens up the doors for professional collaboration. The internet is now an ever-updating source of useful tools shared by fellow teachers. The possibilities for teachers now seem to be endless as they share and benefit from each other’s sources and ideas.
Photo: January 15, 2012
Alan Levine. It’s Cool Here