Throughout the semester, we have learned how digital tools are changing and reshaping the teaching and learning of history. I believe that the use of digital tools in the classroom can increase student participation and engagement as well as helping them to apply historical knowledge to real life situations. In this class we identified and analyzed different digital tools and how they apply to learning/ teaching history. One of the most important and useful tools we explored this semester was Omeka, which is a website that is defined as “a free, flexible, and open source web-publishing platform for the display of library, museum, archives, and scholarly collections and exhibitions.” I found this digital tool to be one of the most fun and organized ways to display visual information related to history. Using the site, you are able to gather source metadata and display it in a way that mimics museum collections/ exhibitions. An article written by Jeff McClurken titled “Teaching and Learning with Omeka: Discomfort, Play, and Creating Public, Online, Digital Collections” explains the purpose and uses of Omeka as well as the reservations that some students and teachers have about using the resource. According to McClurken, “Digital media projects offer students the opportunity to be creative in their approaches to conceiving and presenting information. Rather than the static text of student tests and research papers, these projects can be dynamic, cross-media, innovative and new, while still adhering to rigorous standards for citation and scholarship.” An example of how creative and dynamic Omeka sites can be is shown through my group’s Omeka project where we covered transportation in America. The project consisted of five collections that explore different aspects of American transportation throughout the years. Using photographs and other media sources, we were able to make a comprehensive collection of sources that speak to the evolution of transportation in America. I found this project to be both challenging and useful to the work that I hope to do in the future.
One website that I found to be especially useful in this class was Wix, an online website maker. In our individual projects earlier in the semester I used Wix to create a website about female pirates that I used as a supplement to my lesson plan. I think this worked remarkably well especially considering that I am not the most experienced website designer. I had created a website for my photography class last semester, but that was the only prior experience I had. Wix made it easy for me to create and navigate my site. Though Wix is quite simple, I found that YouTube videos from other users outlining the best features of Wix to be helpful when doing details. One video I found especially useful is this one from the Wix Training Academy, linked here. I would recommend Wix to any beginner website developers, as I think it could be used for a multitude of reasons, both educational and artistic. This versatility is one of my favorite parts of the site maker.
Another important research tool we learned to use in this class was Zotero, an online citation tool that organizes and stores your citations so that you can easily find and input your sources into your paper. According to an article on GettingsThingsTech.com, Zotero works on a variety of different computers, internet browsers and other operating systems. It’s an accessible and easy to use program once you get the hang of it, and I would recommend it to anyone in the history field who is writing a long research paper and needs to gather many citations. One downside of Zotero is that it can take a second to get the hang of, and you may need to be taught in person or watch a few videos on how to use it. Other than this, it is a great tool! The last tool I will discuss that I found to be particularly useful were interactive, animated graphs that show the evolution of a certain aspect of history. For example, there is one made by Andrew Kahn on Slate that illustrates the development of Confederate and Union strongholds, monuments and other locations from the year 1865-2015. Digital tools like this allow the student to see the progression of a certain historical topic and interact with these events, gaining more knowledge than by just looking at a plain graph.
Overall, throughout this class I gained so much knowledge of digital history as a tool for teaching and learning. Considering that I will be teaching in South Korea soon, I can totally see myself using some of these tools for my students and myself.
Kahn, Andrew. “Watch as 13,000 Civil War Monuments Fill the U.S. Map-and Read the Chilling Inscriptions.” Slate Magazine, July 2, 2015. https://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/history/2015/07/civil_war_historical_markers_a_map_of_confederate_monuments_and_union_ones.html.
Long, Jacob “Zotero, the Free Citation Manager for Students, Teachers, and More” in Getting Things Tech, March 3, 2014.
McClurken, Jeff W.“Part 3: Teaching and Learning with Omeka: Discomfort, Play, and Creating Public, Online, Digital Collections.” Open Scholarship. Learning Through Digital Media: Essays on Technology and Pedagogy (blog), 2011.
Omeka. Accessed May 1, 2023. https://omeka.org/.
Wix Tutorial – A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners. YouTube. Tooltester, n.d. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxpjW-Mq96Q.
8 Underrated Wix Features You Probably Don’t Know About. YouTube. Wix Training Academy , n.d. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mx6eiYxlYDI&pp=ygUYd2l4IHdlYnNpdGUgdGlwcyBoaXN0b3J5.