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ERIC Number: EJ765171
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004-May
Pages: 15
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0018-2745
History in the Digital Age: A Study of the Impact of Interactive Resources on Student Learning
Vess, Deborah
History Teacher, v37 n3 p385-399 May 2004
Online courses and degree programs are increasingly common feature of higher education, such as those of The University of Phoenix, Western Governor's University, and the Open University in Great Britain. The University System of Georgia, the third largest university system in the United States, has recently created an electronic core curriculum, known as the eCore[R]. These developments pose new problems and challenges for the profession, especially since there is still a lively debate in the academy as to whether the use of technology always increases learning. David Noble has remarked that "good teaching involves more than the distribution of information. It also requires a human touch, a knack, possible only in live interaction, to do such things as inspire, spark thought, sense confusion and find a new way to explain complex matters." Modern historians wonder if it is still possible to have the kind of impact that such teachers as Socrates or Confucius had in their face-to-face conversations with students in a new world where the digital byte is king. This difficulty is all the more apparent when one considers that the majority of historians tend to use educational technology primarily as another delivery tool for traditional hard copy resources, whereas creating an effective online course or other interactive online materials demands that they learn to use the computer as a cognitive tool. In order to realize Noble's notion of effective teaching and learning in an asynchronous environment, historians must undergo a profound shift in the way they use educational technology. This article explores ways to transform traditional static resources into online modules that maximize student interaction with primary and secondary source materials and artifacts, and with faculty and other students. It also assesses the impact of electronic resources and activities on student learning in Georgia's eCore World Civilization I course. In doing this, the author hopes to provide insights that are equally applicable to traditional courses that use online materials as supplements. Contrary to the opinion that "real historians do not read bytes," the evidence suggests that it is indeed possible to create effective online learning environments where students "read bytes" and simultaneously learn how to become "real" historians. In fact, effectively designed online activities and discussions promote very high levels of participation, show significant interaction with faculty and other students, and help to develop analytical ability. The evidence also shows, however, that students, like many of their history professors, are still wedded to hard copy texts, and that they do not exploit many of the web's most attractive possibilities for interactive learning. (Contains 3 figures and 23 notes.)
Society for History Education. California State University, Long Beach, 1250 Bellflower Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90840-1601. Tel: 562-985-2573; Fax: 562-985-5431; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Arizona; Georgia; United Kingdom (Great Britain); United States; Utah