When I was in high school, a distant 16 years ago, our history teachers spent countless hours teaching us about historical events and trying to get us to think about how they impacted our lives. The good ones could get us to think critically and to share our thoughts. The mediocre ones simply required us to memorize as much historical information as possible and regurgitate it on a multiple choice test. At the beginning of my teaching career, just four and half years later, the focus was shifting our practice from memorization to "higher order thinking" strategies. We began using Bloom's Taxonomy or the Depth of Knowledge wheel to design lesson that required students to think critically about history. Still necessary though, was for the History teacher to spend the bulk of his or her time providing historical understanding to their students.
With the proliferation of internet-based devices, the focus of History education has now changed. No longer is the teacher and textbook the source of historical information. Students can quickly and easily research and find as much historical information as they see fit. The History Teacher's job has shifted away from simply providing factual knowledge and attempting to get students to reach higher orders of thinking. Instead, the teacher is free to now focus on teaching, modelling, and facilitating the learning of skills while using history as the vehicle of inquiry!
What type of skills am I referring about? With the overload of information available online, students must be taught how to evaluate the quality of sources available. This is a necessary skill in today's modern society. Students must be able to discern who is the intended audience, look for potential biases, and to make their own conclusions about which information is good and which is factually inaccurate. Another general skill is the ability to communicate. This is increasingly important in today's modern, high-tech world. Students must be able to work together across time and space. Technology has increased our ability to do this in an efficient and productive manner. History teachers must put students in situations that require them to communicate and collaborate with other students; the workplace of the present and future demands this. An example could be to require students to research a historical event, to collaborate with a group of their peers, to develop a presentation via an internet-based tool, and to share the impact of this event with their classmates or with others in the community. These are but just a few of the skills that teachers must help students to learn.
Technology has altered our access to historical information. The amount of online sources dedicated to history is endless. Having the ability to analyze and evaluate those sources, collaborate with peers, and to apply their learning in a meaningful way is the end goal for the History student. Teachers must break the old mindset of covering content and instead must focus on modelling and facilitating the usage of skill. Breaking old habits is always a hard thing to do. When these changes require you to alter the foundation of what you do--it becomes a tremendous challenge.
Take a look at the graphic organizer that I found on Globaldigitalcitizen.org. They do an outstanding job of applying technology to Bloom's Taxonomy.
Thanks for your time. As always, feel free to provide me with your feedback. Do you agree, disagree, something to add? Please let me know. Thanks!