I have only seen about 30 minutes of the latest Ken Burns documentary “The War,” but what I have seen touched my heart and moved my spirit. I am in the midst of attempting to facilitate several opportunities for Oklahoma teachers and students to utilize videoconferencing as well as online digital tools to get involved in Veteran oral history digital storytelling work, and part of this is tied to a phenomenal collaborative project titled “Oklahoma World War II Stories.” I’ll be posting more on this in the weeks to come. This is a project with which I feel philosophically, pedagogically, and professionally centered at many levels. This connects to the Oklahoma Digital Centennial Project, which I’ve been helping facilitate and lead for the past year, and ties strongly to my own interests in social studies and history.

Part of the educational efforts associated with this project have led to the provision of a full copy (on DVD) of this series “The War” to every Oklahoma public school district, as well as a superb set of educational materials for teachers and students to use in conducting their own veteran oral history interviews.

Given this backdrop of involvement with this project at several levels, I was thrilled this week to hear Ken Burns himself discuss the series “The War” for about 20 minutes in the WGBH Forum Network podcast, “THE WAR: Preview Screening and Discussion with Ken Burns.” What student in the United States should NOT see this film series at some point? As Ken says in the interview, many people today think all learning should be able to come down to a sixty second video on YouTube. It can’t. Understanding an event and a context as complex and rich as the wartime experiences of both veterans and those who supported the war at home requires DEEP LISTENING. I don’t have time to write more about this tonight, but I did want to share this link and encourage anyone interested in the history of World War II, studying World War II in school, or interested in digital storytelling (and specifically documentary filmmaking) to check out this 20 minute interview with Ken Burns.

Bring Ken Burns into your classroom. You can do it via this podcast.

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One Response to Learning about documentary filmmaking and WWII from Ken Burns

  1. Gary Stager says:


    I’ve had writing about these resources on my to-do list for a month.

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