Redefining Classroom Boundaries/Redefining Neighborhood Histories

Saturday, January 7, 2012: 9:20 AM
Chicago Ballroom VI (Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers)
Janice L. Reiff, University of California, Los Angeles
Digital technologies have already profoundly reshaped the nature of history instruction.  Online courses have become increasingly common.  Electronic archives have opened new possibilities for students in “traditional classrooms” to conduct primary research in archives that previously were geographically inaccessible.  The digital environment has also provided a malleable space for creating new kinds of history courses that engage students with projects and collaborators existing beyond the boundaries of their learning institutions.

This presentation will explore these possibilities by focusing on a course offered as a partnership between the UCLA History Department, the Hypercities digital project at UCLA, Public Matters, a non-profit community based educational organization, and the Pilipino Workers Center that brought UCLA students together with community high school students to study, record and document Los Angeles’ Historic Filipinotown.  Designed as a year-long project for the high school students and as a quarter-long research seminar for the UCLA students, the course brought students (and faculty) together on campus and in Historic Filipinotown.  Students used digital technologies to record interviews and prepare videos.  They used GIS and Google-based mapping techniques to create web-based tours and to deliver those tours on GPS based Nokia tablets.  They relied on Moodle to communicate between participants at UCLA and at PWC.  And, even though the course has ended, they are now creating an online exhibit of the research the two groups of students uncovered separately and together.

The success of this experiment, as well as the lessons learned, has led to the development of subsequent courses at UCLA that adapt and extend the model.  The presentation will also consider these courses as well as selected courses at other institutions in exploring these new boundaries for engaging history in our expanding digital world.