Title:Leveling the Playing Field: Empowering Learners with Primary Sources
Authors:Cynthia Copeland, Ray Shah, Petar Bojkov, David Ellis, Gavin Lee Foster
Publication:MW2005: Museums and the Web 2005

American History is often undervalued, disliked and ignored by both students and teachers in today's schools. This paper looks at the incarnation of an on-line object-based educational (K-12) Web site which helps enliven teaching and learning history. With content steeped in the topic of the American Revolutionary War era, the site intends to provide the experience of direct engagement with rich and diverse historical resources to educators and learners. This occurs in multiple ways throughout the site; however, it is the site's main feature -- the on-line exhibition tool -- that embraces object-based learning methodologies to promote the development of skill sets in information literacy, evaluation and higher-ordered critical thinking for educators and learners alike. As users learn how to curate their own exhibitions, they also begin to understand and practise the historical processes of weighing evidence and developing methods of inquiry, thereby learning to think like historians. Active participation in learning through the incorporation of primary material in classroom instruction greatly improves student interest, ability to retain knowledge, and overall satisfaction with the learning and teaching process. The integration of primary sources and new media technologies is reshaping the way education is practised. And access to primary sources, once the sole domain of curators and scholars, in an on-line format levels the playing field and opens the possibilities for greater meaning to the legacy that is history,s at any age