One of my questions from last week was: How can the use of technology help or hinder students and visitors in learning to think historically? After this week’s reading, I feel like I have a firmer grasp on some of the way that technology can assist teachers in providing better learning opportunities on the classroom.
For example, I was really intrigued by John McClymer’s theories on scarcity vs. abundance. I am starting to see how the Internet has made an abundance of resources available to teachers and students. Many primary sources are now available online. Before, teachers might have only had a transcript of a primary source for a student to read. But now, that same source might be available online from the Library of Congress where the student can actually see a picture of the real document and even sometimes manipulate the document (zoom in and out, move around) so that they can read the real thing. In the museum field, we talk about Numinous Objects and the way that people can feel a personal connection when seeing Lincoln’s Hat or the Book of Kells. I feel that for students, being able to see a picture of the actual documents (and trying to decipher the writer’s handwriting themselves) given them a greater connection with the primary source while at the same time, allows them to experience the work that historians actually do.
In my future classroom, I hope to utilize digitized versions of primary sources (via the Internet) in order to come as close to that numinous experience as possible, as well as teach my students practical historical skills. I imagine having them look at the digitized version first, seeing what they can make out, and then offering them a transcript so that they can dig deeper into the content. I also want to help students learn where to go on the Internet to find these primary sources for themselves.