HI 354: Design Active Learning for DE Course

HI 354, Rise of the American Empire, was developed as a new distance education course to fulfill a large demand from students in the History department. DELTA staff worked with Dr. Nancy Mitchell to design this course by placing a strong emphasis on progressively developing and reflecting on viewpoints, as well as assessing and utilizing primary sources to uncover complexities. Different technology tools were used to meet the pedagogical needs of the course.

Instructional Challenges

  • Move students beyond memorizing historical facts to making interpretations and arguments about whether the rise of the American empire was deliberate or accidental.
  • Guide students to read, analyze and assess the reliability and usefulness of primary source documents and explain the complexity of what happened in history.

Highlights and Solutions

American Empire Timeline Project: Weekly activities were designed to help students visually organize important historical events and interpret to what extent they are deliberate or accidental. Students create their own timeline using a Timeline JS-based Google Spreadsheet template to identify and explore patterns in history. See timeline examples created by students: Student Example #1, Student Example #2.

Blogger Journaling Project: Weekly activities were designed to prompt students to articulate the reasoning behind their interpretations about whether particular events were accidental or deliberate. Students write weekly journal entries on Blogger and share with their study group for peer interaction.

Debate Activities: After reading primary sources involving multiple perspectives, students role-play supporters, opponents and judges in small groups. In discussion forums, supporters and opponents each present their viewpoints through group VoiceThreads, and debate virtually by commenting on the other side’s VoiceThread. Then, judges review the two sides’ arguments, vote for the winner and give explanations for their decisions. 

WebQuest Project: A web-based collaborative inquiry project was designed for groups of students to explore how President Carter made his decision during the Iran Revolution by using primary sources from five different perspectives. Each group member role-plays historians focusing on one perspective and conducts individual research with relevant primary sources. All group members share and compare their individual findings for further analyses and conclusions.

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