After completing the week’s assignment I wanted to find some literature on creating online courses for history classes. History is not always the most fun to learn. It has been my experience that students disengage really fast if the class is heavy with lectures. So I wanted to know what the challenges were in online history classes.
I found an article titled, Teaching History Online: Challenges and Opportunities, authored by Kelly Schrum and Nate Sleeter. Traditional history classes are taught with midterm and final tests. Students are required to memorize all information in-between these tests. The course discussed in this article was required to follow Virginia State Standards of Learning. So the curriculum was formed following those standards. “We started creating the online course entitled Virginia Studies organizing it around the main chronological and thematic sections of the standards (Virginia Geography, Native Peoples, Colonial Virginia, Revolution and New Nation, Civil War, and Twentieth-century Virginia), including developing the content, topics, and structure of the course Web site.” (Schrum & Sleeter) The curriculum developers created content in multiple formats including audio, text, video, and images.
One particular aspect that this course did not address was the multiple forms of learning about history. In order to learn about history, students have to begin to see the content and resources critically. They have to sift through documents and photographs and be able to see what is authentic. “The course did not model interesting ways of thinking historically and equally important, of teaching students to this historically.” (Schrum & Sleeter) The developers designed a course that placed historical inquiry at the center. “We integrated interactive learning, personal choice in determining one’s path through the course, and a sense of discovery, and we balanced these with technical capabilities and design limitations.” (Schrum & Sleeter) This course now offers students the experience of multiple ways of learning about history. Students are asked questions that allow them to think critically about the topics in history. They can explore digital maps and links to diary entries that pertain to the topics they are learning about.
I think this was an effective model for designing an online history course. History is difficult because there isn’t really room for interpretation. We are learning about other peoples’ interpretation of history. And in Lummi history, our traditional knowledges have been misinterpreted so many times in the past, our people don’t want Northwest Indian College allowing students to continue down that path.
Schrum, K., Sleeter, N. (2013). Teaching History Online: Challenges and Opportunities. OAH Magazine of History. (27). pg. 35-38.
2 thoughts on “Online History Courses – Article Review #4”
Interesting review. History is one of my favorite subjects and I think one especially well suited toward online modes of inquiry and study.
I’m curious about your statement: “Traditional history classes are taught with midterm and final tests.” Is this good learning design? What sort of learning theory does this design subscribe to?
I’m also not sure I understand this statement, “One particular aspect that this course did not address was the multiple forms of learning about history,” which seems to be at odds with this,”The developers designed a course that placed historical inquiry at the center.” I think you’re speaking to the importance of history students understanding historiography, but I am confused if you are talking about a before and after type of study with a new course being created, or adding your criticism of the course the authors created.
Please clarify! 🙂
I agree with Owen – intriguing review, but I’m left curious about two things.
“History is difficult because there isn’t really room for interpretation.”
“One particular aspect that this course did not address was the multiple forms of learning about history”
I know what you mean in both of these but they seem to be somewhat at odds! I agree, history was often boring for me, because it was so focused on rote memorization of dates. There’s often not a lot of wiggle room in the teaching style. I’ve seen that at both HS and college levels. I think you have to have a really solid grasp of historical facts in order to interpret history…right? Couldn’t interpretive questions also test factual knowledge? Historians love hypotheticals, for example. How would you design an online history class that met the needs of these multiple forms? I don’t think I have an answer either.