5 Ways Technology Has Changed One of Education’s Most Traditional Subjects: History

There’s no denying that the influence of technology is everywhere in today’s classrooms. From the fifth grader using an iPad to the professor projecting digital renderings onto the screen, from the student working in a genome lab to the one getting a degree online.

While few people would deny the reality of this transformation, the popular perception is that technology’s reach extends only to certain subjects. It surely influences the sciences, people believe, and it offers interactive solutions to the challenges of elementary education. But the humanities are perceived as old fashioned, set in their ways, and largely immune to technological influences.

This belief is far from accurate. In reality, humanities subjects have quietly become some of technology’s foremost champions, and the study of history is no exception. Not convinced? Here are five ways that technological advancements have changed the way historians conduct research:

Accessible Documents

Old documents were once only viewed in musty and distant archives, accessible only to a lucky few. Today, however, with widespread digitization, scholars around the world can see centuries-old documents online as they conduct their research.

Searchable Scholarly Works

The digitization trend has also extended to secondary sources, and companies such as Google have amassed vast collections of scholarly books. A search of Google Books, then, can allow researchers to match given phrases with a specific line of text.

Reconstructed Reality

Scholars doing research on a long-vanished place and era – Victorian London, for example – were relegated to visualizing how these places looked based upon maps, architectural drawings, and scant written evidence. Now, all these sources can be assembled together to create realistic virtual 3D renderings of a street, neighborhood, or even whole city.

People Searches

Tracking down information about an individual used to be a difficult and arduous undertaking, often involving countless phone calls and trips to numerous archives. These days, aggregating sites such as ancestry.org provide public records, census data, marriage licenses, death certificates, military enlistment cards all in one convenient place.

Communication

A historian or professor doing research will often seek to consult with an expert in the specific field of their inquiry. Forums, databases, online journals, and networking sites make this an easy undertaking these days, as one can do searches based on specialty and quickly make contact with the right person.

These are just five of the most significant ways in which technological advancements over the past decade have directly influenced historical research. Although history regards itself as a more traditional discipline, few members of its ranks would argue that these technological changes have only facilitated their research and ultimately been beneficial.

5 Comments

  1. Pingback: 5 Ways Technology Has Changed One of Education’s Most Traditional Subjects: History |

  2. utubersity

    December 20, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Computers and tablets are only assistants and a good teacher’s will always be needed.

    However social networks such as facebook and YouTube as well as great resources including Wikipedia and Wolfram-Alpha are here to stay so that educators must use them in the teaching process.

    Many academics are posting great educational videos and materials online. The only problem is to sort the good ones from the rest and present them in an organized manner.

    This effort is being done by: http://Utubersity.com which presents the best educational videos available on YouTube in an organized, easy to find way to watch and learn.

    They are classified and tagged in a way that enables people to find these materials more easily and efficiently and not waste time browsing through pages of irrelevant search results.

    The website also enhances the experience using other means such as recommending related videos, Wikipedia content and so on. There’s also a Spanish version called http://utubersidad.com

  3. utubersity

    December 20, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Computers and tablets are only assistants and a good teacher’s will always be needed.

    However social networks such as facebook and YouTube as well as great resources including Wikipedia and Wolfram-Alpha are here to stay so that educators must use them in the teaching process.

    Many academics are posting great educational videos and materials online. The only problem is to sort the good ones from the rest and present them in an organized manner.

    This effort is being done by: http://Utubersity.com which presents the best educational videos available on YouTube in an organized, easy to find way to watch and learn.

    They are classified and tagged in a way that enables people to find these materials more easily and efficiently and not waste time browsing through pages of irrelevant search results.

    The website also enhances the experience using other means such as recommending related videos, Wikipedia content and so on. There’s also a Spanish version called http://utubersidad.com

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