Creating an Enhanced Version of the Federalist Papers
In my class Ratifying the Constitution, I give my students a real problem confronting historians: how to make the events surrounding the writing and ratification of the Constitution make sense to today's high school and college students? Employing a student-generated website, my students construct a series of resources that would be helpful to students and their teachers, including links to a variety of primary and secondary sources in the process. One key contribution of this project has been to create "enhanced" versions of the Federalist Papers. This version of the Federalist harnesses the possibilities created by the digital medium to make the documents more accessible, first by glossing for difficult vocabulary words and by presenting a "modern-day translation" of the content. But it also allows readers to delve deeper into the documents by including links to pages describing the thinkers and the concepts that influenced the authors.
You can see our course website here: http://hamiltonprojectnu.wikidot.com/
History Lab and Knowledge Building
As scholars, historians engage in the process of knowledge-building, adding to the body of general knowledge in our fields through our research and writing. Students rarely have this opportunity. In my "history lab" courses, I work to correct this by engaging the students in first-hand, primary source research within the classroom. Whereas in the typical history class model students perform research outside of the class, these courses move research into the classroom. This allows students to collaborate with one another and with me as they perform their own research. These classes employ web-based collaboration tools and digital resources to create collaborations among students.