Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Charter of Rights and Freedoms via Wordle

A couple of months ago I posted about a program called Wordle which allows you to create "word clouds" from a body of text or a blog. I had a couple of ideas but hadn't really thought that much more about it.

I was just listening to Eric Langhorst's podcast over at Speaking of History and he instantly got me interested in it again. Teaching about American government, he ran the US constitution through Wordle and created a great starting point for a class discussion. It's fun and engaging and immediately provides a windown into the focus of the document.

So of course I reached for our Canadian equivalent and ran the Charter of Rights and Freedoms through Wordle and got the following result:

Click on the link and try putting your own historical documents into Wordle - let's see what other results we can come up with.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Meet the Teachers

Each year Canada's National History Society presents the Governor General's Awards for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History. Last year we piloted a new program to record interviews with our recipients and share them with a wider audience

The results were positive and this year we have improved the quality significantly. Meeting and sharing ideas seems so key to the online experience and it just shows how easy it has become to share the work of these tremendous teachers.

Rather than reading a bio, we now have the opportunity to step into the classroom and meet the teachers, to see their projects and personalities shine through. There are six video's in total, but I posted Mike Ward's below. Reading about his project of creating a table with a settler community is one thing, but seeing it in action is totally different. Each of the videos brings that life forward.

A special thanks to our videographer Jayson Go for his help with each of the videos.

Also a thank you to Philip Ling, Shephanie Ha, and Geoff Ives, in Ottawa who did a great job on a short timeline helping with the video interview of Jean-Pierre Frigon.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

History Flash

Ok Historians, you know you would have fun with a little flash tool like this.

I watched the election results through the New York Times as well. There website is just so far ahead of everything else.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Collaborative Project

David Suzuki has me inspired. Not just to build an organic garden, but to build programs and projects that are worthy of the technology available to us. 

The David Suzuki Digs My Garden project used Flickr and online video as a way to make this contest a little bit different. From across Canada people entered their gardens by uploading their images to the official contest Flickr group. To enter the contest I joined the group and added my own garden images that were already posted on my own Flickr group.

On my own image I was able to tag all of the different plants in our pesticide free garden - from the tango lettuce to the organic catnip to our cat Mister T. Online programs are about presenting, storing and registering information in ways that were not previously possible.

Not only that but we also received a really cool video thank you from David Suzuki as well. This is how new projects can use technology in a collaborative and inspiring way. By sharing gardens from across Canada we not only created a historical record of gardening in the year 2008, we also provide a knowledge exchange.

Strangely enough at the same time another photo on Flickr was also being targeted by an online collaborative project. Schmap is a digital map program that provides information about cities from around the world. 

The map makers from the city of Minneapolis had taged two of my photos from our trip to the city this past summer. The photos had been chosen for a contest (there is always a hook) and they would like to know if I would be interested in entering the photo. The "winning" images will be used for a photo guide to the city.

Like most folks I'm happy to have the pictures used and happily clicked yes. Together all of these images can form a collaborative project, from hundreds of people. Not only that, suddenly I know Schmap exists, I'm going to tell my friends to all go and look for my picture, and maybe I will use this website in the future. 

By giving me a role and involvement, by helping me feel like a collaborator rather than a user, I suddenly am considerably more connected to this website.

Monday, October 27, 2008

David Suzuki Digs My Garden

David Suzuki ran a great contest this summer to encourage Canadians to grow organic and pesticide free gardens. We live in an appartment here in Winnipeg and kept our organic garden going all summer - with some great tomatoes to show for it!

Our garden won in the Balcony category and we received this special message from David Suzuki (unfortunately we submitted our picture via flickr and my account name there is generalamazo, thus the thank you). But it's pretty cool and the whole contest had a great digital component that I will talk about more in the next day or two.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Political Junkie Part Two

I'm not sure how I watched politics without the internet. The Museum of the Moving Image has a great website, The Living Room Candidate, with campaign ads from every election going back to 1952.

You said it Ike!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Election Fever - Apathy is Boring

Canada, as you have noticed, is in the middle of an election at the moment. And one of the best places for helping your students get involved and active is Apathy is Boring. They are a great organization that works to get young people not just voting but engaged in the political process.

What also makes this organization so terrific is the way they use technology. They are creating new ways for students to interact with politicians and to get information about platforms and policies. Why should we expect that students want to learn about politics the same way as previous generations?

They have just released a candidates guide to reaching young people. The guide was sent to candidates of all parties to help them use technology to reach and engage young people.

The guide should be mandatory reading for all candidates and their election teams. But if you go through and replace the word candidate with teacher, there is also a lot of lessons to be learned for the classroom.......

Thursday, September 11, 2008

If my Mom can blog update

I was home over the weekend and was working with my mom on her blog and flickr page. In the summer we got her started with a blog, flickr, and delicious account.

Now her class, Geography of Northern Canada, is off to a great start and the online components are coming quickly. My mom has hundreds of great slides from trip sand living in the north. Rather than lug around the old projector this year, she had them all transferred digital copies and we uploaded them on to her flickr site. Then we added a flickr badge to share them on her blog. (That's me in the white in Arviat)

But best of all we used a new program called Issuu to publish her syllabus. Rather than just posting a link to an online document or hiding it away somewhere, Issuu allows us to store an online copy that you can flick through easily. You can also print and download straight from the program.

Best of all these programs and documents are accessible from anywhere - a digital work station. No slide projects, no flash drives, no laptops. Just a linked up classroom that can be moved anywhere.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Making the History of 1989

Great new website with primary sources, first hand accounts, and teaching strategies from the Centre for History and New Media. Check out Making the History of 1989 if you are teaching about the Cold War this year.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Political Junkie

I admit in my spare time I'm a pretty heavy political junkie. And I love the New York Times website for interactive and interesting online features. I will let you explore them on your own but the one I wanted to point out for History Teachers is a timeline of Democratic Conventions (I assume/hope the Republican one is on the way).

In one small presentation you could teach an entire class on the politics, economics, and social aspects of the United States since 1948. I found the 1956 convention in Chicago particularly interesting and wanted to point out Adlai Stevenson's speech at the end. How things have changed along the way.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Vocabulary of the Blog

The other day I came across an interesting program called Wordle. The site grabs your RSS feed and turns it into a word mosaic - making most used words larger. So of course I checked my own blog and created the following:

What I actually found most interesting was the way it emphasized my apparently limited vocabulary on the blog. With words such as great, fun, and really jumping out - I actually got an unfortunately clear view of my writing (I'm blaming it all on emailing).

I thought a really interesting project with your students would be to take their work - even all of their essays - dump them into a blog on blogger, and then run them through Wordle to see what words come up most. The exercise should improve vocabulary and also be a bit of ... (anything fun) unbridled enthusiasm....? I'm trying anyways.

You could also do this as a class project to see what vocabulary words in general your students use most.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

10 Photos that Changed Canada

The Beaver magazine today is launching a special feature today called the 10 photos that changed Canada. It's a great feature about some of the definitive images that have shaped Canada. The article is available in the August/September 2008 issue of the magazine.

I wanted to point it out because not only is it a fun feature, but we also have several podcast interviews that I thought were particularly interesting this month. Ray Argyle talks about meeting Robert Mallandaine, who is looking over Donald Smith's shoulder as he pounds home the last spike - arguably Canada's most famous photo.

For anyone who can follow along, there is also a great interview in French with Robert Nadon, the photographer who captured the image of Pierre Laporte's body in the trunk of a car during the October Crisis.

And finally, you can also hear Ric Ernst discuss how the judges narrowed down their list of iconic images.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

History of America Tour: Magical History Tour

Just outside of the Mill City Museum we were delighted to see the Magical History Tour passing in front of The Guthrie Theatre.

Now since I've gotten back apparently there are Segway history tours in a lot of cities. But I still thought it was a really fun way to get around. If we had more time I definitely would have gone for a spin - sort of kicking myself now that I didn't.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

History of America Tour: The Mill City Museum

About a week ago I ventured down into the heart of America down to the great state of Kansas. Along the way I we stopped at a number of historic sites and museums. It was a fun chance not only to visit some new place and learn a bit of history, but to see some new and original projects.

One of the first stops along the way was in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Minneapolis is actually a terrific city with a surprising amount of things happening (sorry Minneapolis we had low expectations going in). It's got great art galleries, theaters, and of course, museums. We stopped at the Mill City Museum in the downtown.

Now the history of flour milling might not sound all that exciting, but there are definitely some great projects happening here. The Museum itself is built into the preserved ruins of the Washburn A Mill. Aside from being a great piece of architecture and preservation, they offer an excellent and smart little history of the city in 19 minutes that is quite well done.

But most impressive is the Flour Tower. Rather than producing a regular exhibit with displays set in place, they moved the exhibit into the former grain elevator. You step on and ride the elevator between floors, where the doors open into each display area. The story follows all parts of the milling process and is narrated with first hand accounts of what it was like to work in the factory as you travel between floors.

It's a terrific way to take an otherwise quite static exhibit and make it engaging and interesting.

Monday, July 28, 2008


For those of you looking for fun Climate Change content for your classroom, check out 350.org and their new video. It's a really smart and sleek new video about controlling climate change.

The video was created by Free Range Studios (creativity with a conscience) who are doing some great social justice and environment projects at the moment. They also brought us Story of Stuff which I've mentioned before and has taken a place of honor on the sidebar.

You should definitely check out their website. They have lots of really great interactive projects, many of which have classroom connections.

Monday, July 07, 2008

If you do only one project next year....

I know the summer is kicking in but if you happen to drift into thinking about next year here is the one project you should do in your classroom - Google SketchUp.

I'm not an expert on the program, but essentially Google SketchUp allows you to create 3d buildings which can then be placed on the map in Google Earth. Imagine in your classroom creating 3d models of your historic community.

The actual technical work of Google Sketch Up is pretty straightforward and the historical research required to recreate and measure a building would bring in lots of interesting primary sources. Imagine a well documented building with first hand accounts, letters, and documents detailing every part of the building. And best of the program to do that project is already fully functional.

Google has also posted selections from it's recent Google Sketch Up basecamp (sadly I was not drawn to participate). Spend the summer getting used to the program and then clean up at the local Heritage Fair when your students present 3d models instead of outdated power point presentations.

If my Mom can blog, you can too

Recently returned from some holiday time at home and I had a chance to sit down with my Mom who is teaching a course at Laurentian University this fall in the geography department.

I had set a goal of getting her class up to Web 2.0 compatibility and she was ready to the task. Over about two afternoons we got her set up with a course blog, a flickr site, and a del.icio.us account.

Now she has her own space to post readings, answer questions, and connect with new resources for her students. She also uses extensive slides which used to require an old slide projector. Those slides are currently being moved over to digital copies and can be posted on the flickr site for easier access - without the need to bring her slide projector.

And finally we set her up with a course tag which students can then use to tag resources that they think might be helpful. Not only does this provide a new angle for participation, but creates a great database of information on Northern Development issues.

Great job Mom! And if you are a high school social science teacher this summer who wants to get started, let me know and I would be happy to help you get off the ground.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Regina Public Library goes Web 2.0

There are not a lot of organizations in Canada really pushing the edge of what you can do with web 2.0. So that's why I was so excited to find that a hot bed of work is being done at the Regina Public Library.

Not only are they on Facebook with a pretty sharp looking page, but they are also on Flickr with great sets of images available for use in the classroom. They even have a nice little RSS feed and Blog on Prairie History with updates on new books and events.

If your in Regina stay close to these guys, they are setting the bar and moving some great fun projects forward. Well done!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

National History Education Clearinghouse

The Centre for History and New Media is a leader in online programs. They have just launched a new National History Education Clearinghouse that is a great website for history teachers.

The website has connections to History Content, Teaching Materials, Best Practices, New Research, Grants and Professional Development.

The program is based out of George Mason University so the programs aren't specific to Canadian history, but the website is still a really valuable resource that should be explored by all educators.

Connecting The Dots Of The Web Revolution - Publishing 2.0

As you may or may not know when I'm not blogging here I'm working away for The Beaver and Kayak magazine in the publishing world. I've been following a series of posts online by Scott Karp who has been examining newspaper and magazine publishing.

What this all has to do with Digital History Education is that Scott just put up a great post about how searching for sources and reading (i.e. learning) is changing online. If you have a chance I would suggest reading the entire post which I think captures in a nut shell what your students probably already know, but can't vocalize in opposition to old learning techniques.

"Nobody has really been able to conceptualize yet just how dramatic the change is in our traditional systems of information, media, publishing, reading, writing, relating ideas, and thinking itself. Nick Carr has come close with his recent writing, and he’s brave enough to try, but he gets too distracted by his nostalgia for a simpler age.

Nick argues that we are losing our ability to “read deeply,” e.g. read a whole book and contemplate it, without “distraction.” The problem is he’s using an antiquated yardstick to measure the quality of thought."

You have to keep reading for all of the details, but suffice it to say things have changed. We can't know how they have changed yet, or what all the results will be, but we still know that change is there.

I have to admit since publishing my little digital history package, which really is the sum of about two years worth or work, I've been searching for where to go next in the digital history world. As you can tell the last few posts have been a bit random.

I know there is more out there, but not sure how much more can be done from here. Will have to spend the next few months developing Digital History 2.0.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Copyright rewrite war rages on Prentice Wikipedia page

globeandmail.com: Copyright rewrite war rages on Prentice Wikipedia page

You should probably keep this article on hand for discussing Wikipedia in your classroom. It describes the battle between warring government staffers and a collection of Wikipedia reviewers over the qualities of the Honorable Member of Parliament and Industry Minister Jim Prentice.

Interesting because it shows you what Wikipedia looks like on the inside. But also interesting because it shows you what government is like on the inside as well.

Gulag: Many Days, Many Lives

For those of you teaching world issues or twentieth century history the Centre for History and New Media has created an excellent new exhibit entitled Gulag: Many Days, Many Lives.

The online exhibit uses video and primary sources to explore the horrific experience of the Gulag. I know it would be a great resource in the classroom for any teacher.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


The June/July issue of The Beaver features a story on the origins of Oil development in Petrolia, Ontario. Between this article and the first two hours of There will be Blood that I managed to catch on a flight, I've been thinking a lot lately about how much society has changed in the last 100 years and home much a culture of oil has been a part of that.

That's why I find Ciclovia and the work of StreetFilms so interesting. They have hundreds of videos online about the wonderful transformation that has taken place in Bogota, Columbia. Millions of people of each week cycle, walk, and enjoy thousands of miles of roads. It's a bit like looking into the future at what a world without oil might look like.

Certainly it's the type of community that I would like to live in. It's not really a digital history project but a great online video collection for social science teachers, especially those teaching World Issues.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Healthy Learning Environment

A major study in Canada was released this week documenting rates of child obesity and the amount of time Canadian kids are spending in front of televisions and computers. Kids today are bombarded with so many types of online media that I think it raises some really important questions if we are going to go down the digital history road.

Integrating technology into the classroom to better engage with students is a great way to encourage learning. But this should not come at the expense of health, creativity, and imagination.

I think the challenge for educators using technology in the classroom, whether it be for history or any other subject, is to be as precise as possible. Precision requires educators to only pull out technology when it clearly has an impact and makes a difference to students ability to learn. Building a house takes many tools and computers are just one of them.

At times I'm sure on this blog I sound as though I would be using technology all the time in a classroom. But I really believe that any classroom needs a balanced approach. It may come as a shock but I don't think that technology is the be and end all of teaching.

What we want to do if shift students away from technology time that is not helpful to learning - power point I'm looking in your direction. Students spending less time on poor online learning practices, means more face time in the real world and more time doing creative digital history projects. And for everyone that is a healthy learning environment - both real and digital.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Digital History Webinar

The first ever History Society webinar discussing Digital History Projects for the history classroom is being held on May 27th at 8 pm Eastern. I'm really excited as I think we have some really fun and interesting projects to talk about.

To attend the webinar all you need is a computer with an internet connection. You don't need a microphone or webcam yourself.

We are using DimDim which you might also want to check out. I have my microphone all set and I'm just waiting for the opportunity now. If you would like to attend you can send me an email at the History Society. We have room for 20 and if more sign up I'm happy to add an additional workshop in the days after.

Thanks for your interest!

Digital History Newsletter

The 2008 Digital History Newsletter is finally complete and ready for sending. It's been a little quiet on the blog of late because I've been finishing it up. I'm sending it out this weekend but all you regular readers will get first dibs right here because I'm posting the link to the newsletter. You can check out all of the projects and lesson plans right HERE!

This project has been in the works for the better part of a year now compiling and rewriting lesson plans about Google Maps, Podcasting, Wikipedia, and Blogging. I'm hopeful that it helps inspire a handful of teachers to start integrating digital projects into their classroom activities.

Many of the projects I've discussed in the past on the blog, but I'm most excited about the Google Maps project following soldiers at war and explorers, as well as creating soundscapes through podcasts. I think really emphasize the types of new projects that can be done online, as opposed to simply writing an essay and putting it up. I think the soundscape especially would challenge students to think about historical events in a way that is both fun and challenging.

Of course it's all just kind of a rough plan at the moment, but we will see where we go from here. I'm already planning our first webinar (see post to follow) and some fun projects for the fall. Enjoy!

Jane's Walk

Last weekend I was involved with the 1st Jane's Walk in Winnipeg. It was a great event to be a part of and I really enjoyed leading the historic walk through Wolseley here in Winnipeg, which by our books is one of the nicest neighborhoods in Canada.

I've posted pictures of the event on my Flickr stream, which sadly to say was the only real digital component I included. I think for schools and classes trying to teach about their local schools and communities - programs like Google Maps, Flickr, Podcasts with community locals, and Voice Thread. Lots of fun projects for next year though!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Sad chapter of Canadian history

TheStar.com | columnists | Sad chapter of Canadian history

When I first heard about the Out from Under exhibit last spring I was really excited. Here is an interesting and engaging exhibit about an emotional and real issue.

The team at the Ryerson School of Disability Studies has done a fantastic job putting the exhibit together. It displayed last year at an abilities art festival and was so well received they were offered the opportunity to display this spring (April-July) at the Royal Ontario Museum.

It's a huge success and I think a really significant moment for historians in Canada. I think it demonstrates a real need for further research and study into the unique field of early abilities activists.

They have also done a great job putting together some podcasts which are available on the ROM's website and through iTunes. I've always considered podcasts as a great way to reach the visually impaired - in particular many aging Beaver magazine readers.

What they have done for this exhibit is provide a full podcast describing the exhibit (which is really worth the full listen) and a full video podcast that provides sign language for with hearing impediments. They have also provided large print pdf editions and written transcripts.

Not just in research, but in action, this exhibit is coming out from under.

Monday, April 07, 2008

They read my blog.

I will admit this is a bit of sorry excuse for a blog post, but I'm going to indulge. I mentioned Speaking of History on Friday and was back on the site on Monday. The site has a tracker of who is visiting the site and how they go there.

Sure enough when I visited again today, a few notches below Winnipeg from google.ca (that was me), was Halifax, Nova Scotia arrived from digitalhistoryeducation.blogspot.com! It's easy to write a blog and pretend like no one reads it. But it's a small point in the development of a blog when you gain some readership, whether it was just passing through or a diligent reader.

Cheers Halifax, Nova Scotia arrived from Digitalhistoryeducation.blogspot.com, that made my day! I hope you enjoyed Speaking of History as much as I did.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Speaking of History Teacher's Who Blog.....

Speaking of History is a blog/podcast out of Liberty, Missouri, run by 8th grade American History Teacher Eric Langhorst. Not only does Eric have the sharpest looking header of any blog that I've seen, it's a great set up and looks like a terrific blog. I just listened to his post on a video called Please Vote for Me, a video about democracy in China that looks amazing.

I realized with this post and on Dan McDowell's that I need to start keeping track of these great history blogs so I'm adding a new sidebar with specifically history teachers who blog. In this case they happen to also blog about using technology in the classroom, but that doesn't necessarily have to be the case.

After speaking with Vincent Massey Collegiate I'm realizing more and more how these tools are so important to professional development and keeping in touch with amazing teachers like Eric and Dan. Welcome to Canada guys!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A History Teacher - Dan McDowell

One of the best things I have had the opportunity to do since I arrived at the History Society was to sit down and interview the six recipients of the 2008 Governor General's Awards for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History. The interview is on YouTube.

I'm just working with some of the winners again right now to get their great work out to a larger audience and I read this post from Dan McDowell who blogs at www.ahistoryteacher.com out of San Diego. Dan has been nominated for teacher of the year and with good reason. I've just started reading his blog on a more regular basis and he has a faithful following. Great teachers cut to core values that I think Dan has also tapped into here.

The post just reminded me of sitting down with our GG winners last October. Great teachers and incredible people all around, can't wait to see this year's list of nominees.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Google Street View

Not I don't want to trump Sprout since I rarely put two posts on the same day, but I wanted to point out Google Street View.

If you haven't already played around with the program it allows you to walk through the streets of major US cities on Google Maps. They are up to about 30 or US cities now and Yosemite National Park.

Now admittedly, I have no idea how this helps a Canadian History teacher - but I'm sure Canadian cities can't be far off. There are also lots of historic sites to stop and gaze at as you roll around the streets, especially if you are teaching any American history courses.

Check out Sprout!

So you may have noticed a plethora of podcasts all over the blog of late. I noticed a new program called Sprout Builder care of the Sam Roberts album (Sam Roberts Rocks!). Sprout Builder is a flash device builder built using flash. It is essentially a flash what you see is what you get and it is amazingly easy to use and creates really nice finished products.

For those of you that have missed some of my past posts, I really dislike power point for being a linear thought line with little room for creativity for students. Not to mention Power Point is already on the way out - so teaching students to use it is not providing a valuable skill.

I'm still playing around with Sprout - but it would be really easy to combine video, audio, and images into a really engaging presentation. Students could also use the program to share their projects afterwards on Facebook, blogs, etc. Thus why I have been posting all my recent podcasts to my own blog.

Check out Sprout! This is easily one of the most useful and powerful programs that I've encountered.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Northwest Passage 2.0

I'm currently working on our upcoming edition of BITE: Beaver Information for Teachers and Educators, just give me a shout if you would like to subscribe. The feature article is a great piece by Ken McGoogan on the opening of the Northwest Passage, so I've been searching around for some additional information to provide background for the story.

I found a great video on YouTube from a European voyage through the passage in 2004. What is so terrific about YouTube, Flickr, and other resources is that they allow students to get a first hand perspective of far away places and histories. While these videos don't have the trumpets and drums of National Geographic, but they are a great way to add life to the classroom.

This particular YouTube video gives a good account of the conditions early explorers must have also faced: chipping ice away from the deck, snow covered ships, and mammoth icebergs. I found a lot of these videos for Expo 67 as well.

Flickr provides the same documents when exploring the beaches of Normandy, providing countless images and stories from European battlefields. These programs provide a great way to add life and cool interfaces to your classroom.

I understand why school boards often ban access to programs like YouTube, but at the end of the day they are doing a disservice to their students. Educators need new and original ideas to create engaging classroom content. These free programs will never replace teachers and chalk, but they provide unique opportunities not only for teaching, but for learning about the past.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Interview with Canadian Filmmaker Brian McKenna

Interview with the 2007 Pierre Berton Award Recipient Brian McKenna.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Many Eyes

While attending a workshop at the UofM I was introduced to Many Eyes. I haven't had a chance to play around with it much yet, but for statistics online it presents some really interesting ways of making it pop out.

Lots of fun for educators looking to make their own statistics jump out at students and also a way to let students have a bit more fun while learning stats.

The founder of Many Eyes is a guy named Hans Rosling and he can be found De-bunking third world myths online here. It's actually a really interesting exercise - one in that it challenges students to think, but also because I disagree with some of the way his stats are presented. Challenge your students to asses the stats and see what they think - whatever you think it is an engaging talk.

Monday, March 17, 2008


One more neat program from the friendly Social Science staff at Vicent Massey Collegiate. For teachers who are only too painfully aware of the time required to make rubrics, a new free website can provide you with a quicker and more effective answer

RubiStar allows you to quickly create and edit Rubric templates for use in your class. The rubric templates are broken down into various subjects and you can adjust all of the categories.

I was going to include this in the last post but felt it needed it's own reference. Great program for the behind the scenes of teaching.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Vincent Massey Collegiate

On Monday I had the chance to visit with the Social Studies department at Vincent Massey Collegiate here in Winnipeg. They generously shared a morning discussing some of the digital history projects they were using in their classroom.

They are doing some great projects with their students that are really fun. Currently they have their own Wiki that provides students with work and project space. By using Wikispaces they are able to upload their students emails with easy passwords to get them started and track changes made to the Wiki.

Some of the other programs they are using that might be helpful in your classroom are:
  1. Quizlet
    • Create your own interactive quiz sheets and flashcards for test prep
  2. Xtimeline
    • Create scrollable time lines with information and dates
  3. Bubble.us
    • Awesome program to create essay and project outlines - no more doodling
They are also doing some great podcasts with visitors to the school. You can find their podcast feed at Podomatic. The most recent entry includes a speech by Stephane Dion, leader of the liberal party of Canada.

I also suggested they start blogging about these great projects so hopefully we will see them online very soon!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Reason #273 for Digital History

Reason #273 for Digital History, less baggage.

Part of a continuing series of humerous takes on why digital history can make things a little easier.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Selkie Rescue

This isn't really an education piece, but a helpful bit of information that might come in handy.

My old computer crashed about a year and a half ago and took with it my entire university career. Those years of work meant a lot and I wanted to keep my essays and research, so I had kept my computer with a hope that I might be able to one day recover the documents. A few computer stores suggested nothing could probably be done and the few experiments I had tried failed miserably.

Then just a few weeks ago I read about a program called Selkie Rescue in the Globe and Mail. Using the program and my internet cable I was able to hook my new computer up to the old, set up a local network, and transfer over all of my files. The whole process took about 3 hours, but that included a test run with the demo, buying and downloading the real program (about $100), and transferring the files.

I found it really effective and would definitely suggest trying the same if your computer has crashed and will not boot. If your computer died because of a virus you may want to be more careful, but in my case the problem was software.

Now to backup my files.....

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Voice Thread

While attending the podcasting workshop with the Learning Technologies Centre George Siemens mentioned Voice Thread as an interesting new program.

Voice Thread allows you to post individual images, movies, or presentations. You can then add your own note or audio to go with the picture. The best part is that others can then come along and post their own audio comments as well - essentially creating an audio forum.

One example I noticed had an art teacher asking a question about a piece, and then letting students post their own comments. I think this would be a really great program to help walk students through complex sections. Also a chance for an inspired teacher to explain difficult topics to students across Canada.

I put together my own quick example describing my history trip to Hecla Provincial Park in Manitoba. Feel free to post your own comment as a test just to try it out! If you set up your own Voice Thread for you class be sure to let us know.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

[James Mullen, 2B, 1909-11 (baseball)] (LOC)

At the Social Bookmarking workshop offered by the Learning Technology Centre, Peter Tittenberger mentioned afterwards that the Library of Congress has posted 3000 images on Flickr.

It really is a great example of what historical organizations can be doing to reach new audiences. For teachers it also presents a really unique and interesting resource that is available to them. It also might be neat to think about archives and museums in your community that need help with the monumental task of scanning and categorizing images.

It also shows the advantage of social bookmarking over conventional descriptions. I found the images in this file immidiately by clicking on the appropriate tag. A similar search of Canada in the LOC Bain collection didn't reveal any of them because Canada was not in the title.

On a personal note, this project also touched home in a way that I hadn't expected. Being a baseball fanatic, I was of course drawn to the images of the baseball players.

About the second images I clicked on I noticed that the player sported a Toronto jersey. Reading further they have three images of players from the Toronto Maple Leafs AAA team in the early 1900s. It touches home because, if I'm not mistaken, my grandfather played for the team in the late 40s.

He has since passed away and I wish I had of spent more time learning about his playing time. These pictures brought back many memories and have encouraged me to keep searching out more information on the team.

History matters everywhere, even more so when it comes up against new and unexpected intendants.

Learning Technologies Centre - University of Manitoba

In Manitoba we enter a winter hibernation that allows for thoughtful blogging and time to share the wealth of information. I've been attending some lunch time workshops of late generously provided by the Learning Technologies Centre at the University of Manitoba.

The workshops are intended to help faculty and students get started with online basics, but I've found them to be a helpful refresher. It's nice to have the opportunity to hear about how programs can be integrated into the classroom. Fortunately for those of you not in Winnipeg, or available at lunch as the case may be, you find all of the helpful information on their Learning Wiki.

I've had the chance to sit in on the blogging, social bookmarking, and podcasting sessions so far. I found them all really helpful. I would definitely suggest you check it out.

More than anything thus far it's emphasized the me the importance of building an online community - which means even if no one is reading this - we're going to keep on trucking. As more teachers become involved, we have the opportunity not only to create our own shared personal spaces to discuss our profession, but shared spaces to support each other and our students.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Quebec 400 goes digital

The Beaver magazine is launching it's special double issue celebrating the 400th anniversary of Quebec. As a special feature it also marks the first podcasts that we have noted in the magazine and suggested visiting our Website.

If you visit thebeaver.ca you can listen to two interviews. Marianna O'Gallagher is the author of Children of the Famine and Denys Delâge is the author of Allies Malgre Eux, both articles in the special edition. The magazine is also being published in both French and English.

Check out the previous post for all the info on creating podcasts.

Thursday, January 03, 2008


I've been working on putting together a digital history newsletter and I'm also looking for ways to facilitate working with teachers online. I have an eluminate v-room, I'm working on using Skype more, and I've also just come across Meebo that the University of Winnipeg library is using.

If you have a question about Digital History or an idea for a project give me a shout. It's a nice easy chatting feature that doesn't require a new user to sign in. It was also very easy to embed on the side of the page.