In this activity, think back through what you wrote in response to the previous readings. Write a blog post that offers a detailed answer to at least one of the following questions:
- What elements of historical thinking have remained at the heart of history teaching over the decades?
- How have history teachers responded to technological change in the 20th and 21st centuries?
- How have external expectations constrained teaching and learning in history, and how might the digital turn disrupt those constraints?
Because everyone agrees that there should be standards but no one can agree on what those standards should actually be, external expectations can be frustrating. Some external expectations come from local/state/national organizations who set the standards. While some standards are flexible and all-encompassing, the standards vary widely across the states, and one state’s flexible, progressive teaching cannot negate the low standards another state sets. Beyond ideological constraints, there are also monetary constraints. It’s hard to bring in individual pieces of historical evidence for a every student in a 20-student classroom to examine: hence why textbooks are so popular. Textbooks, in the manual world, are the best solution to providing lots of information, despite the fact that that information is usually superficial and rarely sourced.
The digital can really help some of these problems. The AHA has set outlines for historical thinking/teaching/learning, and while this doesn’t negate the standards set by a school or state, it does expose the teacher to new ideas. Now teachers can easily connect with other teachers across the globe, let alone the country and state. Digital also has the potential to make textbooks obsolete, and while I am very excited for that day, I think it’ll be hard for some nostalgic teachers (and textbook manufacturers!) to let them go. It’ll be a process. Turning digital always has to be a process, or the new medium will scare away people. Even kids, who are viewed as more tech savvy than most adults, begin to shy away once the metaphorical “nuts and bolts” of coding are revealed.
As many of the articles in this module stated, teaching has remained the same for a century, and that fact really needs to change. Sure, there are SmartBoards instead of chalkboards, but the messages haven’t inherently changed. We really need to use digital to focus on bringing new ideas and truly revolutionary techniques to the classroom. Individualized attention is more possible with asynchronous courses that involve individual meetings–and maybe, one day, artificial intelligence. Projects that used to be displayed only in a classroom can now be shared on the Internet and receive feedback from unexpected sources. The world is your oyster in the digital world of history teaching, and lots of people don’t even realize it.