Shana Crosson is the Web Content Manager and Technology Integration Specialist at the Minnesota Historical Society and has been for the last six years. Currently her job revolves around preparing the Minnesota Historical Society for the digital delivery of K-12 content. Shana is currently in revisions for a digital text book for use in public schools and her team is also working on delivering digital primary sources to the K-12 audience.
Transitioning to Digital Resources
The Minnesota Historical Society has been publishing a textbook, Northern Lights, since 1988. The Minnesota Historical Society writes, produces, and sells this text to public schools. It is targeted at the 6th grade and aligns with their curriculum and requirements. They currently are working on delivering a browser-based version of the textbook. Recently curriculum for 6th grade classes have changed, sparking the current revisions and the addition of digital content. These grade standards, which were released in February, are followed closely by the Minnesota Historical Society website programs. All web programming designed for the K-12 audience aligns with these requirements. The latest edition of the text will be released with a significant amount of digital content.
Local or National Content
The Minnesota Historical Society used to focus their content solely on Minnesota but now maintain that “all history is local.” Their programming and content have shifted from a Minnesota focus to a more national appeal. In their video conferencing program the people running the program are in in St Paul but deliver information all over the country. The text book currently being developed has a chapter that is being developed as an iPad app and will be targeted at a broad national audience.
The Internet Versus Live Teachers
Web programming can’t replace a live teacher, but a teacher has the responsibility to use the information available to enhance live classroom experiences. This content can open the world to students. Teachers can’t bring artifacts into the classroom, but having access to images and information about the objects from a primary sources is beneficial to the learning experience. Currently, the Minnesota Historical Society has too many objects available for viewing making it confusing for teachers to find correct artifacts. This needs to be narrowed down for easier access for teachers. There are also data visualization programs and mapping resources available, as well as a graphic novel based on primary sources. All these resources make history more accessible and alive.
Social Media in the Classroom
Social media can assist in learning, if teachers let it. Teachers shut it down for the wrong reasons, but it can be used effectively. Teachers use Twitter to communicate with classes and to help the communicate about what they’ve read or learned. Students can develop a Facebook page for characters they’re learning about, which require them to boil down all they’ve learned to the most basic information. Social media allows for teaching students in a medium that they’re familiar with. Social media could really blossom and take off.
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