Resources: Connecting Modern World History with Technology

As stated in my previous posting, this feature will focus on technological resources that educators can implement within their Modern World History courses. EyeWitness to History, World History for Us All, and all provide teachers with engaging lesson plans and activities in order to help their students analyze primary and secondary source materials and become more critical thinkers. These resources help teachers connect the content of their Modern World History courses with the principles of historical thinking and use of technology within the classroom, with the intention of developing students to be highly informed and competent global citizens. Questions, comments or suggestions, as always, are welcome in the comments section below or on Twitter (@ToriMcDonough22 or@SocialStudiesatCSU)!
EyeWitness to History
Created by Ibis Communications in 1997 (although most recently updated on August 14th of this year), this website attempts to help students better understand history but putting them in the perspective of those who actually lived it. Through pictures, quotes, audio clips and videos, students are given the opportunity to witness the behaviors of those from the past to understand the larger context of the events of history. Within each time period featured on the website, there are interactive pages that allow students to learn the finer details of the time period or event presented by exposing them to artwork and information about battles. One of the only drawbacks to this website is that is it unclear as to what qualifies the authors of this information; no where on the website is it stated who specifically writes the materials or where they received their credentials. While the information appears to be reliable and is backed by primary source documents, one must be careful to review the materials for accuracy before implementing them within a classroom.
On the website, there is an interactive web page that details the Fall of Rome and the specific battles that led to the city’s forces being overrun. This webpage also includes an eyewitness account of the devastation of Rome in 406, giving students an opportunity to understand the events from another account or perspective. Through this information, students are able to understand the narrative of someone that may not have been famous, but had a unique perspective and feelings about what was taking place. This gives students the ability to try to think from other perspectives than their own when engaging historical materials, thus allowing them to see the world and its events from a vantage point that may not always match their own. Another aspect of historical thinking that is uniquely highlighted within this material is the analysis of primary sources. Students can examine the eyewitness account within this webpage and check it against other sources and information in order to ensure its accuracy and understand more about the climate of the world before the Fall of Rome.
World History for Us All
Created by the National Center for History in the Schools at UCLA, this website provides extensive research, lesson plans, glossary terms and videos that teachers can use to strengthen the material of their Modern World History courses. Of the lesson plans featured, three unique viewpoints are offered, so that educators can choose what sort of approach they want to take when helping their students understand the chronology of world events. The first viewpoint for the lesson plans offered is panoramic, which helps students examine the events of an entire time period, according to the “Big Era” perspective. The second viewpoint is landscape, in which the major developments of a time period are discussed, but not necessarily from the standpoint of an entire Era. Lastly, the closeup lesson plans help teachers emphasize major themes or perspectives from throughout history, so that students can begin to understand that history is not a series of disjointed events, but rather one large, continuous story (closeup units are still in development, and educators are welcome to submit their units on the Contact Us page of the website).
Of the panoramic lessons offered, there is one unit in particular that focuses on the Modern Revolution (1750-1914) in which industrialization was at its height. However, rather than simply focusing on the developments of technology during this point in time, this unit also helps students to understand how developments made all over the world also led to a change in how individuals and societies interacted with one another. Relationships between the colonized and the colonizers are examined in order to help students grasp the emerging concepts of racism and progress during this period in history. The information in this unit not only helps students to understand multiple accounts and perspectives as they examine the behaviors of various cultures during this time, but also helps them develop their historical thinking skills by encouraging them to place the people and events within the context of their time and space. Students through this unit are asked to analyze the contexts of this time period to better understand the relationships, attitudes and technological developments that were made during the Industrial Revolution.
Created in 2001 by teacher and geographer Mike Maxwell, this website serves as a guide to educators of World History courses of not only what to teach, but how to teach it. Lesson plans include information on the major time periods throughout history, in addition to educating students about the mechanics of writing and how to avoid plagiarism. Also offered are books, videos, and maps that can supplement the lesson plans and information presented. However, the main highlight of this website is the “Student’s Friend” handbook, which is marketed as “a concise narrative of world history and geography”. This handbook covers every major time period throughout history, from prehistory to current issues and a changing world order, using paragraph-sized chunks of materials and well-defined vocabulary terms to increase student understanding. This comprehensive packet of information could be used alongside lecture materials in a Modern World History class to reinforce the topics being discussed during a particular set of class periods.
Featured on the website is a timeline activity in which the students must use the “Student’s Friend” handbook to plot out six major events from various eras of history on their own timeline. Students must place the event on the timeline with a corresponding graphic and dates in which the events took place; the instructions for this assignment state that this project can be completed by one student or a group of students. This activity incorporates the sourcing aspect of historical thinking as students are required to refer back to their lesson materials and other outside resources to complete their timeline assignment. Furthermore, this activity helps students develop the contextual aspect of their historical thinking skills as they learn to place the events on the timeline in their proper chronology in the course of history. As students learn the dates and contexts of major historical events, they are able to understand history as a continuous story that connects people across all times and cultures.
Check back soon for an interview with a Cleveland State University student about an assignment that educators can use within their Modern World History classrooms!