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!