Around the World in 42 Objects: Teaching History with ArcGIS Story Maps

Saturday, January 7, 2017: 9:10 AM
Mile High Ballroom 3A (Colorado Convention Center)
Kate Craig, Auburn University
For a premodern historian, the current state of digital pedagogy can be both inspiring and discouraging. Many collaborative online projects have shown us new ways in which student work can become more than a paper dropped off and forgotten; sites like the History Engine highlight the kinds of opportunities we now have to allow our students to contribute actively to historical research and outreach. At the same time, such sites are often focused on American history and rarely reach earlier than the eighteenth century. When projects in digital pedagogy do focus on earlier or non-American history, their success often relies on the technical skills and resources of the instructor (to cite an example from my own field, the Omeka-generated site dedicated to Fordham students’ work on medieval London: While projects like Omeka have made such results more attainable for the historian-at-large, generating a digital pedagogy project still appears to require both expertise and time. What is needed is an entry point, in which very little technical knowledge and investment (on the part of both the instructor and her students), can result in a relatively polished, attractive, and public final product.
Esri Story Maps, free web-based applications associated with ArcGIS Online, provide just such an entry point ( In this paper, I discuss my experience combining the digital images published under a Creative Commons license by the Walters Art Museum with Story Maps to design a “world tour” with an honors World History class (Fall 2016). By asking each student to ask questions, to perform research, and finally to present the results of that research on a public stage, my goal is to engage non-majors with the historical research process, familiarize them with world geography, and give them the sense that “history matters”. The project is underway at: