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ERIC Number: EJ1032815
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Feb
Pages: 11
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0018-2745
Constructing the Past Online: Discussion Board as History Lab
Lane, Lisa M.
History Teacher, v47 n2 p197-207 Feb 2014
History Professors and instructors have a lot to do. They are supposed to "cover content," introducing students to the main events in history. They also need to teach skills, such as historical thinking, source evaluation, argument construction, and research techniques. Particular "student learning outcomes" or assessments are often required, even when they only partly overlap with their own goals. In addition, they each have specific objectives they want to achieve, based on what they think is most important about their discipline and its role in the lives of their students. Professors want students to go beyond factual retention and into analysis of historical issues, and in online classes, they are supposed to do all of this without ever seeing the students in person. Technology can simplify these tasks. Primary sources are easy to find online, and professors can set up readings on course websites or inside Learning Management systems (LMs) like Blackboard or Moodle. LMs discussion boards seem like a good way to set up discussion outside of class, or to continue discussion that begins in the classroom. setting up a discussion seems intuitive--entering in questions, and expecting responses. Many discussion prompts encourage "me too" responses, when instead professors want to deepen the conversation and replicate the dynamic of classroom discussion. In the classroom, discussion is usually part of other activities, such as interactive lecture, tasks to be completed in small groups, or student reports. In online forums, the social feature seems to dominate. The discussion board need not, however, focus on conversation and sociability. Lisa Lane details uses of the discussion boards as work spaces for constructivist activity, rather like history labs. Students discover primary sources on the web, post and comment on them, then use them to create historical theses, all posted on the board. This structured approach, which nevertheless embodies much freedom for students to explore their own topics, fulfills many of her goals.
Society for History Education. California State University, Long Beach, 1250 Bellflower Boulevard, 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; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A