Digital History: Using New Technologies to Enhance Learning and Research
Digital History: Using New Technologies to Enhance Learning and Research is a website out of the College of Education at the University of Houston with the goal of supporting the teaching of United States history in K-12 schools by collecting resources that aid both teachers and students. Resources on this website include a textbook for U.S. history, over 400 annotated documents from the Gilder Lehrman collection, supplemental primary sources on other topics such as slavery, Mexican-American, Asian-American, and Native-American history; US political, social, and legal history; essays on a range of topics, multimedia exhibits, reference resources with a range of uses, an audio archive, and a visual archive. Also on the website are quizzes, timelines, a ‘time machine,’ and an overview of significant events in American history.
Navigating the site is relatively straightforward, as the homepage contains an index of historical eras, history topics, types of primary sources, voices/perspectives, audio-visual materials, general references, modules, resources specifically for teachers, and exhibitions. There is also a site map linked at the bottom of the homepage, but this has mostly the same layout as the index. However, on the same page, there is a search feature that would be useful for finding specific information and resources.
There are specific resources on the site geared specifically to educators and others geared toward students. Teachers can use the learning modules, lesson plans, and teaching resources that also include recommended documents, films, and historical images for certain themes or topics. Digital History would be useful for educators who have specific topics or themes in mind to search the site for primary sources, visual aides, or multimedia resources for their lesson plans. There are 72 interactive modules, called eXplorations that use primary sources to delve into different perspectives on topics such as slavery, westward migration, or issues such as Japanese internment during World War II and emphasizing the perspectives of Japanese Americans. These modules combine interactivity with new perspectives to engage students in historical thinking. Students can also create their own projects or exhibitions using resources on the website, with a database containing over 600 images, art, and digitized letters. A dedicated page about citing Digital History gives an overview of copying, linking, citing submitted content, permissions, and overall citing the website. This page would be useful for students not only when they create projects or write papers using site resources, but also as a learning tool about citing online resources that come from other places.
The strength of this website comes from its impressive breadth. It is a U.S. history-only website but covers an enormous range of topics from pre-colonial native history to current history with a range of different types of resources and materials to use, from documents to images to audio. This website could be valuable for educators of any grade level, and also for those teaching undergraduate-level American history courses.