The AHA Guide to Teaching and Learning with New Media



This site is dedicated to Lucia Knoles, the best of colleagues.


Bob Fry, director of information technology at Assumption College, led the workshop on the Internet in which I first glimpsed some of the possibilities new media held for teaching and learning. Bob has been a continuous source of ideas, encouragement, and indispensable technical assistance ever since. So has his staff, headed by Mimi Roysten.

As an early adopter I had the good fortune to get to know some of the pioneering members of the emerging scholarly community dedicated to exploring what we could do with the web that we could not with traditional means and media. Among the many I learned from are Randy Bass, who directed an Annenberg Foundation study I participated in, and Roy Rosenzweig, who was busily turning George Mason University into a center for teaching with technology. I also had the opportunity to serve on a panel at the Library of Congress with Ed Ayers just as his “Valley of the Shadow” project began to demonstrate some of what was possible. On that same panel I met Kitty Sklar. She and Tom Dublin went on to create the “Women and Social Movements” project at SUNY Binghamton, now an online journal published by Alexander Street Press. Kitty and Tom invited me to participate in several conference panels with them and have been a constant source of advice.

Another fortunate meeting was with Arnold Pulda, currently with the Worcester Public Schools central administration, who invited me to lead a session for a New Media Classroom (NMC) workshop. That led to a long-term association with NMC, and with Josh Brown, its director, and Donna Thompson Ray, its education director. Through them I have had the opportunity to work with, and learn from, faculty from all across the country. Richard Jensen, one of the founders of H-Net and author of several very valuable online guides, invited me to co-edit H-Ethnic with him, an experience that has proven very valuable and that introduced me into yet another virtual community of people committed to realizing the potential of new media. Steve Mintz, who chaired H-Net’s teaching committee when I first joined it and whose “Digital History” project is a model for all of us seeking to help teachers use online resources, has proven an especially helpful advisor as well as a steadfast friend.

Closer to home, Jim Moran, director of outreach for the American Antiquarian Society, co-directed with me a  project on the history of the first national woman’s rights conventions, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Jim is a key player in two grants I co-direct with Colleen Kelly of the Worcester Public Schools. One is a NEH project on developing curricular materials and the other is a professional development program funded by the Teaching American History initiative of the Department of Education. The endowment also funded “E Pluribus Unum,” a three-year project to put online teaching materials for the “critical decades” of the 1770s, 1850s, and 1920s.  Arnold Pulda created lesson plans for all three.  And Lucia Knoles, who co-directed the project, taught me more about web design, teaching, and being a colleague, than I can possibly do justice to in words.

As this partial listing of those who have helped me shows, using new media is a community undertaking. This is especially true of teaching. My most important colleagues in this enterprise are my students. They have put up with my often fumbling attempts to design effective projects. They have given me permission to use their notes and comments in this guide. And they have vindicated my core belief that students can perform at far higher levels than we routinely assume. A number of them worked on the women’s history and “E Pluribus Unum” projects: Sabrina Zadrozny, Teresa Battaglio, Maura J. Ford, and Jared Procopio all designed pages I used online.

Robert Townsend and Chris Hale of the AHA have proven invaluable in figuring out how this guide could be both a web site and a pamphlet. So have several colleagues who made valuable suggestions. As the Introduction to the print version explains, this was no simple job. Nor was getting the web site into shape. Lis Grant, Web Content Editor for the AHA, proved a wonderful collaborator and designer.

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