Teaching history today is far more complicated than it used to be even a few decades ago. The rapid availability of information and multimedia can make even the best traditional lecture look like a modern-day archaeology exhibit. Though the essence of history and its studies has not changed, the process by which information is gathered, learned, and shared has evolved.
The use of technology in the history classroom provides a number of unique opportunities for students not afforded by previous generations due to financial and geographic constraints. A student who has never ventured beyond their city limits can visit the ancient pyramids of Egypt or the Great Wall of China with a few clicks of a button. These opportunities have the potential to create a new, digital world in which history can emerge for students. Below is a brief listing of the relative advantages of integrating technology into history instruction.
- Engaging: Who doesn’t find playing an American Revolution game far more interesting than listening to a lecture? Integrating relevant technology into history lessons can ensure that students remain interested in the material. These experiences may also serve to maintain student attention later when the content is not as interesting.
- Personal Perspectives: Technology provides the opportunity to access exhaustive collections of primary source documents which give students insight into a very personal aspect of the content studied in textbooks and other course materials. Frequently secondary source accounts glaze over the intricacies of events and time periods, tending to favor a summarized approach to the content. Online repositories such as the Library of Congress and National Archives open the door to new perspectives in historical studies.
- Practice Digital Skills: Any time students can work with technology or online, they have an opportunity to practice their digital skills as well as appropriate digital citizenship. By utilizing popular Web 2.0 tools (such as Twitter, WordPress, or Google Drive) students can practice digital skills just as professionals do in their daily jobs today. The classroom provides a safe environment by which to engage in this practice and learn new methods students may not have normally explored on their own.
Ultimately, integrating technology into history courses makes the content come alive. Students can explore the people, places, and events in new ways as they see fit making their learning experiences much more customized and personal.
Roblyer, M. D. (2016). Integrating educational technology into teaching (7th ed.). New York, NY: Pearson Education, Inc.