Oct 7, 2013

Ancient History Enclyclopedia: Making Ancient History "App-ealing"

Ask elementary or high school students to name their least favorite subject, and chances are, you will hear history mentioned more than once.  What is it that keeps history in the dog house among many students?  

One possibility is the abysmal way in which history is often taught.  Too often, teachers cling to outdated methods of teaching history.  Many approach the teaching of history as nothing more than an exercise in wrote memorization of disconnected (and seemingly irrelevant) dates, places, persons or other data.  This is a poor way for students to appreciate a course of study perfect for molding and testing such characteristics as critical thinking, ethics, and social responsibility.

For example, is it truly so important that students know Columbus sailed to the New World in 1492 with the Nina, Pinta & Santa Maria?  Or, is it more important to understand why Columbus wished to sail to the New World in the first place, and what did he do once he arrived?

As a technology enthusiast, I believe this is one example where tech really can rescue an otherwise sinking ship for many history teachers, pardon the pun.  Admittedly, tech may not provide all solutions for teaching history in a more engaging way.  However, where the technology - i.e., the app, website, gadget, or widget - is well-designed and authoritative, teachers ought to embrace its potential.

For this week's Through the Modern Lens, I hope to call readers' attention to one such website - Ancient History Encyclopedia. I initially discovered it as an app while surfing the Chrome Webstore for educational tools, history-related and other topics.  Since then, I have fallen in love with the site.

Operating as a nonprofit, (this means donate, folks!) Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE) takes on a gargantuan task - present up-to-the-minute articles about a sub-topic of history many would argue is the hardest to present.  AHE manages the task with both substance and style, using peer reviewed submissions and liberally incorporating imagery to make the content more engaging and approachable. AHE also has an active Facebook page, and its content can be shared directly from the site via social media like Twitter or Pinterest.

I have no affiliation with AHE, other than as a satisfied reader of its content.  Whether you are a student or teacher of history, however, I feel certain you will find AHE to be an invaluable tool in your teaching/learning toolbox.

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