Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Teaching History with 21st Century Technology by Eric Langhorst

My notes from Eric Langhorst’s METC 2007 presentation, “Teaching History with 21st Century Technology.”

Eric is the author and producer of the fantastic Speaking of History podcast. The handout for his session (PDF) as well as his session PowerPoint are available from his blog/podcast website. I’m recording this session to post later as a podcast.

I’ve known Eric via his blog and podcast (and a few emails) since I started podcasting in the summer of 2005. It is a great thrill to meet and visit with him in person, and get to hear him present on the GREAT, creative work he’s doing with his 8th grade history students! 🙂

Session notes:

Most importantly I am going to focus on WHY I am teaching with web 2.0 tools
– what is web 2.0
– real classroom examples
– why we should use these tools
– what you should do next in your own classroom

What does web 2.0 mean to me?
– Internet of the 1990s was web 1.0, when the Internet was mostly a 1 way street
– it means a website you can easily create and interact with

My history class experience existed primarily in 45 minute blocks of time in one physical room
– occasional video, worksheets
– when I walked out of the room, my history experience from school basically ended

What I try to do today is extend that classroom, let students learn at home, on the bus, at the library
– extend learning everywhere
– should not be any different that what we do with college classes
– allow discussions to take place on the Internet, let students study when they have time to

Today we will focus on the outcomes
– many teachers don’t see how they can use podcasts
– if you focus on outcomes and the reasons to use these tools, it is often better than talking about terms and technologies

Communication: Visiting with Experts
– using the internet to locate and communicate with experts in content areas
– a few years ago did a Jamestown project, and sent email to a Jamestown archaeologist, had a 10 question limit
— email answer came back in 2 days, collaboration with Anne Berry continued for several years
— at one point, there was a hurricane coming into the Virginia Coast, students that year were asking more questions related to the hurricane
— Ann actually answered some of those questions during the hurricane from her laptop on the kitchen floor, when power was still out
— this made the learning much more real-world and engaging for students

Another project: Donner Party Debate Project
– got tragedy, cannibalism, lots of themes revolving around choices and responsibility
– they took the advice of Langsford Hastings(?)
– role of the students watching a PBS video was to collect evidence for whether Hastings was guilty or not guilty of the deaths of the Donner party
– this year we had a debate and recorded it on a mp3 player
– Then Eric got experts on the Donner Party to get judges on the debate (one lady who wrote a book on the Donner party and has an active blog on the Donner Party, and the person who has the first hit on “Donner Party”
– 2 days both of them sent back 4 pages on how they felt, dissecting each thing the kids said
— before that, the students didn’t really grasp how important each sentence you say means

That entire process took less than 1 week, from when I contacted the outside experts to when we got their feedback
– we did that 2 weeks ago

Next example: Communication Students to Students
– Australian History Students
– Podcast exchange
– Covering similar content
– played some example podcasts made by Liberty, Missouri students and one made by Australian students

This started from an email from an Australian teacher who teaches the same age students as Eric (his podcast is “iHistory”)
– students had interesting experiences with each other’s accents
– reason #1 for doing these collaborative projects: In each of Eric’s classes someone asked if they do a podcast in English, would the students in Australia understand it. 🙁 (we need to work on global geography)

Eric’s Speaking of History Podcast
– mostly teachers and historians
– 50,000+ page views from 115 countries in the past year and a half
– great thing about your own podcast: you can create content about whatever you want
– story of how Eric got started with his podcast about 18 months ago

Played samples from the podcast, including interviews with the steam train “Spirit of Louisiana” from July 1, 2006 in Liberty
– another example of feedback is the intro Eric created in Audacity, was 1.5 minutes long, so Eric shortened it to about 20 sec long

Discussions: Interactive Book Blogs
– Book ““Guerrilla Season” (Pat Hughes)” about 1863 in Missouri
– imagine a large book club discussing via the web
– allows 24/7 participation
– moderated by teachers
– we wanted to get as many people involved as possible: students, parents, people in other states, older community members
– project lasted 4 weeks
– students posted comments to the blog, students couldn’t put first and last name, we encouraged students to use pen names
– you wanted to build a relationship with people who had posted things earlier

Did this twice: Spring of 2006 id “The Year of the Hangman” with 35 students, connected with students in Liberty, Missouri and a Minnesota home-schooled student
– This year we got the author of “Guerrilla Season” who lives in Philadelphia involved
– 350 Liberty students, parents, California students, and the author
– she responded on a daily basis, students asked questions and Pat asked them questions
– also included some podcasts was the book blog project’s website.

Podcasts as test reviews: Studycasts
– last year’s students did a survey, 85% said they hoped their teachers in the next year would also use podcasts as studycasts to help them learn
– parents called Eric the night before an exam, when he had posted a studycast as a WAV file, because they had some trouble downloading the file and wanted to listen to that file together with their students at home

CREATE: student created video
– Boston Massacre LIVE! Newscast
– do some fun Greenscreen tricks
– historical perspective on the importance and power of the media, examples of propaganda in the past

USA Today article from Nov 2006 about Eric’s blog project: “Blogging now begins young”

Liberty Minutes Project
– 3-5 minute videos on local historical topics
– Hollywood Night
– the more you can get your local archivists and history folks involved the better (local historical society)
– the kids were amazed that adults wanted to

Created with software called “Visual Communicator” that was recently purchased by Adobe

Also did a “Constitution Day” video, about a minute long
– shown on weekly student news broadcast program

I don’t teach in a 1:1 environment but hope I could one day

Great resource from Cable in the Classroom: eLections
– it is being updated now for the 2008 elections since the candidates have already started running
– students manage a campaign

Quality Content:
Colonial Williamsburg podcasts
CNN Student News (you used to have to record it in the middle of the night, but now it is streaming– 10 min of well produced student news content, lots of international stories)
— for many of my students last year, that was the most significant
— can now download to a video iPod as an audio or video podcasts
– Online States Game: are 10 different levels, very interactive

We use Audacity (free) a lot to edit audio

For book blog project, Eric’s co-teacher Lance made an audio-version of the “Guerrilla Season” book so students who were slower readers could listen to the book (got permission from the author to do that, but not share it outside the class of students)

Online Assessment: Online assessment tool for tests, surveys and games
– unit tests and pretests
– gives immediate feedback to Eric
– subscription-based:

Why use these digital tools and resources?
– learning styles: on surveys each year, the breakdown for Eric’s students turns out approximately: 25% audio learners, 25% visual learners, 50% kinesthetic learners
– extend learning beyond the classroom
– absent students
– bring the community into your classroom
– richer content and curriculum
– bring in experts
– more voices: example of feedback from Spain on studycast

What do I do next
– email an expert
– start small
– find a new way to teach content you are already teaching and really like
– my first goal in 1998 when I had 7 preps was to take one course and make PPTs for it. Next goal was to use WebQuests.
– start thinking out of the box, using tools in innovative ways
– you may be able to be a leader

We have to train each other
– if you are comfortable with these tools, share with others!
– give workshops, offer to help your peers!

Be willing to fight “the implementation dip” when you want to give up
– don’t be afraid to fail, it’s technology not magic

Eric’s classroom website:
– this will change some next year as our district phases into Blackboard and are places to post content for free

Next week are creating 30 sec ads for Abraham Lincoln
– anything that uses video tends to get kids more excited more than anything

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2 responses to “Teaching History with 21st Century Technology by Eric Langhorst”

  1. Leon Avatar

    Take a look at a new site Learn On The Go – education & learning podcast directory. It contains carefully selected educational and learning podcasts covering wide variety of topics and aims to promote the use of audio and video podcasting learning materials for personal and professional development

  2. Richard Rubinstein Avatar

    Really good idea to teach with help of audio books.Take a look once for the detailed audio books sellings and more discounts on the site: