History and Technology In and Out of the Classroom

Coordinating Council for Women in History 6
Saturday, January 8, 2011: 2:30 PM-4:30 PM
New Hampshire Room (Marriott Boston Copley Place)
Amy Essington, California State University, Long Beach
Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600–2000
Thomas Dublin, Binghamton University (State University of New York)
The Audience

Session Abstract

Technology has become an integration part of our lives and profession in and out of the classroom. Even professional organizations use technology to distribute information to members. Witness the creation of the AHA's Archives Wiki that serves historians and other interested scholars as a "clearinghouse of information about archival resources throughout the world." Today web pages link to a wide variety of resources ranging from online oral history projects that can serve as models for collaborative undergraduate research between students and their faculty mentors to databases such as The Special Collections of the National Agricultural Library. At the same time, we worry about how the ease with which we can access facts, often a rather random assortment of facts, is changing the way we contextualize the information we gather and analyze. At this January's AHA the concern with “Is Google Good for History?” a question any one who has pulled up Google books and done a key word search must ask themselves. The ease with which we find and manipulate information is laudable but at exactly what cost?

In the classroom, new technologies provide new ways to deliver historical information to students and engage them in learning. There are increasing options for instructors to present lectures and encourage student participation. Technologies for the classroom include PowerPoint, film, and online course management tools. Too many options can overwhelm a professor, create a high learning curve, and, in some cases, detract from student learning. Using new technology can be a fun and flashy way to teach, but how can instructors use technology as a tool to teach students effectively.

Technology has advanced from tools in the classroom, to paraphernalia students can use almost any time and anywhere. The examination of a specific project, the i-Touch Project at Roanoke College, demonstrates how students may engage in the class material 24-7.What is the impact of these new ways of engagement? Students today spend many hours emailing, texting, and logging into Facebook rather than meeting other students in person or coming to office hours to talk with instructors. Blurring the lines of when professors can and should be available for students becomes a concern with raised student expectation of constant availability. However, new means of engaging students can create new opportunities to engage student and new media through which some students can shine in ways they never would have in the classroom.

One area technology has unquestioningly improved the lives of historians is in research. The example of the online journal/website/database, Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000, demonstrates the ability to making primary sources available to more people almost instantly while preserving old and rare documents. Technology has allowed access to the available sources producing an internationalized American history.

This session will explore issues of technology in the classroom, out of the classroom, and for historical research. Presenters will highlight the benefits and problems of each level of technology and will engage in a discussion of these technologies with the audience.