Impact of Digital on History

In reading Christopher Miller’s article “Strange Facts in the History Classroom: Or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Lobe the Wiki(pedia),” I immediately thought about the discussion we had a few weeks ago (months ago?) where we talked about our own opinions of how to incorporate Wikipedia into academic research. During that discussion, we decided that while it was a great place to start research, because it is an encyclopedia it is inappropriate to cite in academic papers. I was very surprised to read that more traditional print encyclopedia have the same sort of inaccuracies that people use to question the legitimacy of Wikipedia.

The problem with using technology, or really anything “new,” in a classroom is the opportunity for either the students to have no idea what the teacher is talking about or something to go wrong in the technical aspects of the project. In Miller’s example, he assumed that his students were going to understand what he was talking about when he mentioned the Wikipedia website. In fact, it was critical to his assignment that the students have a basic knowledge of the arguments surrounding the online encyclopedia website. Luckily, Miller was able to change his plans slightly to provide more of a background of information. One of the limitations in using “technology” in the classroom is that students, in most classes, should be spending a majority of their time with research or something specific to the subject matter rather than dealing with technological problems in website or PowerPoint. We are all aware of those horrible and awkward moments when the technological aspects of somebody’s presentation are not working.

The other article I read, “Blogging for Your Students,” written by David Voelker, gives a kind of explanation of why teachers should create blogs for their courses. I thought this article provided good, practical information for professors. One of the things the author writes about is the ability for an out of class dialog that includes both students and professors. The author believes the fact that a blog is public forces blog participants to post more complete thoughts than a message board would.

Also interesting is that the founder of edublogs.com’s name is James Farmer.

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