Teaching and Digital History

As technology changes so does the way we do historical research. The internet now allows us to produce creative historical scholarship. Gone are the days of conducting research papers to eventually write a research paper and submit that to the professor, who becomes the only other person to ever read it. The professor reads the papers, makes comments, and assigns a grade. The students may (or may not) read the comments throw the paper into a folder and it never seen again.

Now we can produce a final product that is alive on the internet; a final product that is written or designed for a public audience. The student is learning to write for an audience of more than one and even more importantly can learn from each other. The final product is no less rigorous and still maintains the same qualities for citation and scholarship. The students have now produced something for others to see and interact with. It is a proud feeling to produce something that will assist in archiving historical documents and will be available to others to use and view. Students may also interact with one another, making comments, and working collaboratively to add to the field of historical scholarship.

As a teacher I can say that it is wonderful to have these tools at our disposable. Writing is an essential skill for any and all students to possess, however so is the ability to produce a creative and original work that can be shared. It is also essential for students to learn to write for an audience of more than one. Utilizing blogs and other interactive online programs allows for students to create a network of thinkers. Author Jeff McClurken sums it up best when he says “the act of construction provides not only opportunities to create knowledge (more than ‘just’ learning), but also provides students with experiences necessary to be better consumers of information generally.”

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