In this activity, think back through what you wrote in response to the previous readings, and discuss a way that you plan to use images and/or film in the work that you do (or might do) as a history educator either as a consumer or a producer. As a consumer, what images/film do you think you might use and how will you use that media to lead your audience to deeper historical inquiry? As a producer, how would you use digital storytelling in a classroom or public history setting?
As you write this blog post, be sure to think back about what you have already written on historical thinking.
As much as I love to consume historical images and/or film, I enjoy producing far more. Something about the idea of finding or pointing out something new in an image or film makes me feel connected to history, where the “past is not past.” (Shoutout to William Faulkner.) When I’ve visited newer museums, videos are an integral part of exhibits. Although the cynical might call this a passive museum experience, I see it as a practical museum experience. In a place like the National Museum of African American History and Culture, there’s only so much room and time for all the viewers to crowd around an exhibit item or noteworthy plaque. A video can be viewed by dozens comfortably rather than by three people breathing down one another’s necks.
If exhibit items are supposed to form a narrative, you might want to connect the dots and make a video of that narrative. Sometimes, a museum exhibit cannot be viewed in the perfect narrative order; a video cannot help but be. Even if someone begins watching a video in a museum halfway through, it usually intrigues them enough to stay until they can restart and watch up to where they had previously joined. If you want to give people an overview before presenting them with niche objects, use a video. Videos are wonderful introductions, the perfect medium for reaching people who might not normally be in your audience. I don’t want a video to do the thinking for my viewers, but I do want it to set a foundation.