I remember many of my history classes in middle and high school. I recall trips to the school library to look up facts in the encyclopedias, taking pages and pages of outline notes, playing the Apple II version of Oregon Trail, and using a bead loom to make Native American bracelets. I don’t recall a single instance in which I felt excited to learn about history. Not one. It wasn’t until I was asked to teach an 8th grade history class that I was able to appreciate the power (and excitement) of history. History is anything but “boring”, and with the use of instructional technology, a dull social studies classroom can transform into a room full of passionate, inquisitive, and curious learners.
The instructional technology resources that support social studies instruction is anything but lacking. The advantages that each tool brings can support current classroom lessons, provide opportunities for extended learning experiences, and allow students to seek out new learning on their own.
While I am not an advocate for memorizing historical facts and dates, there is something to be said about having a good foundation of basic information. Drill and practice software allows students an opportunity to develop a solid foundation of those facts. Geographical sites, dates of key historical events, and key people in history can be studied by using drill and practice software.
Tutorials are useful for students who want opportunities to be more independent as they learn about history. While a tutorial can never replace the passion of a teacher, a self-paced tutorial provides an opportunity for a student explore historical topics that are often only brushed over in our traditional history classrooms.
Competition can be a motivating factor for many students. Instructional gaming software can often be the source of motivation in some students. Gaming software that incorporates the use of game rules and competition will often spark an interest in learning more about the given topic.
Simulations and problem-solving software are instructional tools that can provide the “real-life” experiences that students often have a hard time relating to. Simulations allow students to see how systems of people, geography, and time can work together to create a series of cause and effect relationships in history that are often hard for students see. Solving historical dilemmas for themselves often puts historical events into perspective.
While there are a number of factors to consider when trying to inspire young historians, instructional software can often be the key.
“Why Should Schools Embrace Integrated Studies?: It Fosters a Way of Learning That Mimics Real Life.” Edutopia. Web. 22 Sept. 2014. <http://www.edutopia.org/integrated-studies-introduction>.