Supplementing Courses with Free Resources
One of the issues with World History Commons is that it's a legacy site in part. In other words, it's made up of what were a variety of different original websites. One a kind of general world history website from quite a what long time ago, 15 years or maybe more. One on women in world history, another on children and youth in world history, and then some much more highly specialized sites one on the French Revolution, on the gulag, on Eastern Europe, on Buenos Aires. So there's, there are materials that offer a range of depth in world history, but it wasn't designed to ever to be a kind of comprehensive world history server. You could just plug things in from one thing to another. So that the possibilities of teaching only using World History Commons and using nothing else, are there for certain topics, like women, like children, but not there perhaps for other topics. And they, it tends also to be as many world history sites are as well, as much many world history materials available on the webinar as well, it tends to kind of focus more on the modern period in the 19th and 20th centuries. Particularly 19th century, well 20th century as well. So that I think and I think that one could put together a syllabus on many topics for the 19th and 20th centuries using only the materials. But a better way maybe to think about it is a way that you could, as a place you can go for materials on many different topics that you're going to be talking about in any way. The kind of greatest hits of world history that are pretty much always going to be there. What History Commons did from the beginning when it, as it started as World History Matters 20 years ago, is it included, because it included so much, so many visual sources as well as written sources is it really had, without being overtly cultural history, it really had a cultural history focus. So there's so much material there that's available to look at the cultural life of people and intellectual developments, at religion, at architecture, at art, at material culture. Because all of the world history, the constituent sites that made up World History Commons already took material culture very seriously. There's interpretive little essays about how to use certain kinds of objects in material culture. So it really before there was a big material turn in history, which is about 10 or 15 years ago, World History Commons was already, had materials available there. And so to think about it that way. To think about all right i want my students however whatever I'm teaching and whatever particular segment of world history I'm teaching. I really want my students to have a wide range of source materials that are available to them and that's where World History Commons really shines. To say well okay I want them to understand maps. And to some degree if you think about what we do in history is trying to prevent, present students with ways of interpreting the past as well as information about the past. You know as coverage. You could really use, you could say, well what I want my students to have an introduction, to have familiarity with, say using maps, using material objects, using music and there's music on there. And if you think of it that way it doesn't really matter if the maps that you're using are from the 16th century or from the 20th century, there's still a kind of way of understanding how to use maps that World History Commons really really addresses well. So I think a way to think about it is a resource that as you kind of, to do this, use it in tandem while you're designing your syllabus, not to say okay i'm just going to teach what World History Commons has. But to use it as a way to fill in and to flesh out different kind of topics, different kinds of topics that you're going to be looking at anyway. That said, also because of the legacy sites i think that, for example, the thread on children and youth is something that often is very much left out when we're teaching about world history. But whether you're teaching for secondary school students or teaching for college level students, you're still teaching primarily young people and not always but primarily young people. So that many of the sources and the teaching units that relate to children and youth are something that will have great intrinsic interest for your students because they're talking about people who are the same age as they are or close to the same age as they are. So even if you thought, okay I really, I have to do all of this. This is what i need to do in my world history course and think about kind of coverage issue, which is a dreaded aspect of world history. Then think about, I can talk, if I'm going to be talking, for example, about the the slave trade. The Transatlantic slave trade, which will be in any world history courses that goes from 1500 to now. There are materials there to think about what was the experience of your young people in the slave trade. Or, for example, if you teach the first half of world history, the Black Death will be there. That major pandemic of the 14th century and after the pandemic we're in the middle of right now, it's really going to be there because that's what we're also very interested in that. And there are several different kinds of materials about the Black Death in World History Commons. But one was the experience of children in the Black Death, so that's a something I think that the World History Commons can help you do is both pick sources that are are about those major topics that you're going to have anyway. But that might be a slight different kind of, what I think of, a slight skewing of them so to present this to your students in a way that's different. So that if you're teaching the Black Death, you're not always using Boccaccio. You're, you know, those are famous sources they're going to probably be in a text that they use. But here's something about children.