As we have learned throughout this class, digital tools are a great new way of teaching and learning history. While they do a lot to add to the already existing work in the field, how do they reshape it beyond the delivery method? Throughout the remainder of this blog post, I aim to explain how the available media has and will continue to change the way history is taught and learned, how I plan to implement these tools into my prospective career, and to enlighten readers on sources where they can learn more about this subject.
First, being able to create digital artifacts using sites like Omeka has made history much more accessible to a wider audience. Furthermore, it has made collecting and documenting history much easier for those working alone and historians who are collaborating with each other. Jeff McClurken, writer of “Part 3: Teaching and Learning with Omeka: Discomfort, Play, and Creating Public, Online, Digital Collections,” states that this digital tool can be used for a variety of projects ranging from in class assignments to interactive exhibits for museums. Another positive to this platform is that it is available on the internet and as a software that is compatible with Android and IOS softwares. The most attractive feature of this tool is that it meets the same needs as a paper but it presents it in a much more fascinating way.
However, platforms like Omeka require citations not only just for the digital metadata but also formal citations of where the sources were derived from. Citations are a vital part of documenting history because it helps readers or viewers find other reliable sources of information and more importantly it gives credit to the person or organizations that originally produced the information you are using in your documentation. This is where Zotero comes to play.
Zotero is described as a free citation manager that “makes EasyBib and Citation Machine… seem like things of the past” by Jacob Long, author of “Zotero, the free citation manager for students, teachers, and more.” This platform helps to alleviate what is arguably the most tedious part of researching. As someone who has to cite sources often and struggles with it, this software has been a life changer because, like Omeka, I can access my own personal account even when I am working on a computer other than my own. Another great feature is that it works on Windows, Macs, and more all while plugging into Microsoft and Libreoffice. While there are still instances where you have to make changes to the citation because it translates incorrectly, it makes the process much easier and keeps all of the citations in alphabetical order.
Lastly, digital archives have brought a new and exciting transformation to the field of history. Similarly to the previous tools, digital archives cater to the new found “mobility, access, and flexibility,” of students and historians that is described in “Digging in the Digital Archives:
Engaging Students in an Online American History Survey” by Carla Vecchiola. These types of tools introduce students and other researchers to a plethora of primary and secondary sources that they otherwise would have worked much harder to access. Now, it is right at their fingertips! Furthermore, they connect sources from multiple institutions which creates connections between parts of history that some may not have found to be related.
I plan on implementing each of these into my future classroom in a number of ways. First, I plan to create a project built around Omeka that has similar goals to the project we did in this class. I will create a group for each of the units we have done in the class and those groups will create Omeka artifacts for their assigned unit. For example, the group that covers Prohibition and the Great Depression would cite and discuss photos of the 18th and 21st amendments, ads from the Anti-Saloon League, newspaper headlines about the stock market crash, and more. Furthermore, I will introduce Zotero to them at the beginning of the class so that they can use it for all future assignments and projects not only in my class but in future courses. Lastly, I plan on showing them different digital archive databases throughout the course so that they will have a place to look for items when completing their Omeka project.
In an increasingly digital world, fields like history need to stay ahead of the game so that it is not further viewed as old and boring. Bringing a modern approach to a study of history helps to bring an exciting approach to the past. I look forward to using these tools in my own college courses and my future career.
Vecchiola, Carla. “Digging in the Digital Archives: Engaging Students in an Online American History Survey,” n.d.
“Teaching and Learning with Omeka: Discomfort, Play, and Creating Public, Online, Digital Collections | Learning Through Digital Media | MediaCommons Press.” Accessed April 26, 2023. https://mcpress.media-commons.org/artoflearning/teaching-and-learning-with-omeka/.
“Zotero, the Free Citation Manager for Students, Teachers, and More.” Accessed April 26, 2023. https://gettingthingstech.com/zotero-free-citation-manager-students-teachers/.