Site menu:



How Do We Bring the Past to the Learners of Tomorrow?

by on June 17, 2014

Sketch for billboard of the Open Road

Source: Duke University

Nearly everyone has probably experienced that moment when you are out to dinner when a question comes up and no one knows the answer, so someone whips out a smart phone and looks up the answers on the web.  The explosion of information and resources has changed our  lives.

And it is changing how we learn about the past. The  NHPRC has been contributing to this increase in access to historical records by supporting digitizing projects of archival records.  From the papers of noted conservationist Aldo Leopold and those of  southern 19th century lawyer Septimus Cabiness to the records of Missouri Supreme Court from 1821 to 1865 and photographs of billboards across the country, these 39 grants have made over a million digital images of historical records available to the public to use at no cost.

These projects complement those NHPRC-funded documentary editions who are increasingly putting significant parts of their collections online for users to discover. The Walt Whitman Archive includes not just his poetry and other literary writing, but also his letters. Founders Online, launched just over a year ago, contains thousands of letters, diaries, and documents from six of the Founding Fathers. NHPRC and many other funders have supported the publication of books of these transcriptions, but the website has opened the material up to many more users.

But all of this woPortrait of Septimus Cabanissrk requires new skills and new thinking for historians, archivists, and the public. Indeed, what are these skill is the question that many of us are asking. What is the best way to present material to the public? I asked this question to Jody DeRidder, the Head of Digital Services at the University of Alabama who managed the Septimus Cabiness Project. She said:

 The first thing you need to do is to identify your target audiences . . . As a simple example, grade-school students generally need visual browse interfaces (such as with representative images for each category or subcategory), and the younger ones will prefer icons with primary colors.

For college students, the challenge is different. Katie Davis, a professor at the University of Washington’s iSchool notes that students today have grown up in an “app” culture and as a result tend expect that “any question or desire one has should be satisfied immediately and definitively.” As a result, Davis cautions the “learner of tomorrow may need support to break free from an app mentality that demands instant, unambiguous answers to all questions.”  As one possible answer, Davis is investigating the use of digital badges  — similar to those scouts earn for demonstrating certain skills — that online users earn after completing tasks.  She reports that developing such badges requires close collaborations with teachers, developers, and students to ensure that the learning experience is meaningful and the badge is desirable. She is excited about continuing to explore the possibilities. (“Katie Davis: Who is the Learner of Tomorrow?”, Project Information Literacy).

Here at the NHPRC, we hope to encourage others to explore these questions specifically in terms of historical records. A new grant opportunity this year, Literacy and Engagement with Historical Records, is designed to let applicants explore how people understand historical records, both digital and those in archives. Applicants may choose to focus on K-12 students, the college student, or the broader public. The grant announcement gives more detail.

So some questions for readers:

  • What are some of your favorite websites that provide access to historical records?
  • If you design websites for historical records or use them, what do you expect?
  • What do you think we need to be doing today for the “Learners of Tomorrow” in terms of historical records?


Jody DeRidder June 18, 2014 at 3:50 pm

I think one of the most important things we can do is to increase the findability of our holdings in major search engines, such as Google. Options include creating sitemaps (and submitting them), creating static browse pages that link into our databases, and using encodings to inform search engines how best to index the pages they crawl. Our users are finding the content they use on Google and Bing; we need to take our content to them at the point of need.

monica sweetheart June 28, 2015 at 3:29 pm

I really liked your blog article.Really thank you! Really Cool.

Bulk Order Smartphone Accessories July 1, 2015 at 3:03 pm

Great, thanks for sharing this post. Really Cool.

christmas July 5, 2015 at 11:37 am

I truly appreciate this blog. Much obliged.

windshield replacement in los angeles July 6, 2015 at 1:31 pm

Awesome blog article.Really looking forward to read more. Much obliged.

More info here July 7, 2015 at 6:36 am

I value the blog post. Awesome.

coffee sale July 9, 2015 at 4:22 pm

Fantastic blog.Really looking forward to read more. Will read on…

Whiteboard video July 10, 2015 at 2:06 pm

Say, you got a nice blog.Thanks Again. Really Cool.

New July Article July 11, 2015 at 2:20 am

Really informative blog.Really thank you! Great.

fiverr crork July 11, 2015 at 6:32 pm

gJ18Z9 I’ve read some good stuff here. Certainly worth bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how much effort you put to make such a excellent informative web site.

Thai Information 2015 July 12, 2015 at 6:44 am

Thanks again for the article.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 specs July 16, 2015 at 6:47 am

I cannot thank you enough for the blog post.Thanks Again. Really Cool.

News magazine app July 18, 2015 at 3:56 pm

Major thankies for the article post.Really looking forward to read more. Really Great.

Training Data July 19, 2015 at 3:13 am

Thanks again for the blog.Thanks Again. Cool.

carlos jose rios grajales July 23, 2015 at 12:55 pm

Looking forward to reading more. Great blog article.Really looking forward to read more. Will read on…

Last Thai July 24, 2015 at 5:13 am

Im obliged for the article post.Really looking forward to read more.

garden landscape design July 25, 2015 at 2:12 pm

Great, thanks for sharing this blog post.Really thank you! Want more.

Best News 2015 July 26, 2015 at 2:48 am

Really enjoyed this blog.Really thank you! Will read on…

Bradley August 9, 2015 at 8:40 pm


Christian Louboutin Online Store August 18, 2015 at 5:20 am

This type of problem is most commonly experienced at altitude, and therefore you will need even better protection from designer sunglasses when high up, whether it is boiling hot or whether you are playing in the snow.
Christian Louboutin Online Store

exy heels August 18, 2015 at 5:21 am

So a question arises why Oakleys sunglasses are different from others.
exy heels

Christian Louboutin red bottom shoes August 18, 2015 at 5:21 am

People are going to own their own glasses.
Christian Louboutin red bottom shoes

Christian Louboutin promo vacances August 18, 2015 at 5:22 am

If you just wholesale sunglasses at the weekend, you might want to look at our travel luggage.
Christian Louboutin promo vacances

Cornelius August 19, 2015 at 3:30 am

Would you like a receipt? how to order wellbutrin Surveillance video released by the FBI showed Alexis drivinga rented blue Toyota Prius into a Navy Yard parking garageshortly before 8 a.m. Carrying a backpack, he then entered theNaval Sea Systems Command building, site of the shootings,through a door.

mk factory outlet August 19, 2015 at 5:38 am

As the Charter, thus, did not create any definite obligations for the United Nations to fulfill, the task of drawing up a declaration of general principles and a treaty containing binding obligations was entrusted to a Commission the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
mk factory outlet

kate spade factory August 19, 2015 at 5:39 am

I for one wanted to hear it from someone who was imperfect like myself. The people that I had seen today gave me no more insight into their current situation than I hadn

roshe run men August 19, 2015 at 5:39 am

There is not a single family that has not lost at least one member or part of its property. With this image of Bhuj, the condition of the other places can be well ascertained.
roshe run men

coach outlet online August 19, 2015 at 5:39 am

When possible, come up with ways to make taking action more enjoyable. It

nike air huaraches August 19, 2015 at 5:39 am

My first target would be the perks of politicians for, in my view, all the perks that go with the position of the politicians are just too much for them to consume, and this leads to the misuse of the perks and privileges.
nike air huaraches

Marcel August 22, 2015 at 6:38 am

We were at school together how long does bactrim take to work for acne Jimmie said: “My school had a 'Class of 81' reunion 20 years after I'd left. Seeing I bunked off the last year anyway, the thought of walking back through them school gates willingly filled me with dread. Having seen the reunion photos – old mates gone bald and obese, I glad I never went. School – the worse days of your life.”

Bradford August 22, 2015 at 3:30 pm

I quite like cooking buy amoxicillin canada online Lookout discovered that it was able to produce its own “malicious” QR codes, which force Glass to connect silently to a “hostile” WiFi access point. That access point in turn allowed the researchers to spy on the connections Glass made, from web requests to images uploaded to the cloud.

Ashton August 23, 2015 at 10:26 am

I can’t get a signal alternatives to bactrim ds (f) except pursuant to the Acquisition and the Scheme or Part 28 of the Companies Act, require any member of the Wider Markel Group or of the Wider Abbey Protection Group to acquire, or offer to acquire, any shares or other securities (or the equivalent) or interest in any member of the Wider Abbey Protection Group or any asset, in each case, owned by any third party;

Lily August 25, 2015 at 8:19 pm

I’ve got a full-time job attendance zetia discount animated wanderer Following its world premiere at the 2012 Cannes International Film Festival, “The Hunt” has been widely called the best work from respected Danish writer-director Thomas Vinterberg (“Submarino,” “It’s All About Love”) since he helmed 1998’s “The Celebration.” At Cannes, “The Hunt” built a lot of buzz, though Vinterberg lost the coveted Palme d’Or to Michael Haneke for “Amour.”

Gavin August 27, 2015 at 10:11 am

We were at school together erythromycin prescription acne medication Mr Miliband last week tabled an amendment to the Government motion on Syria which would paved the way for a vote on military action. MPs voted against the Government by 285 to 272, bringing to an end Mr Cameron’s hopes to join the United States in a strike on Syria.

Monty August 28, 2015 at 3:50 am

Could you tell me my balance, please? abilify 30 mg The purpose of the bill is to protect these sites for further scientific inquiry, honor the Apollo program, and to guard it from commercial enterprises and the future lunar exploration of foreign nations.

Logan August 29, 2015 at 6:46 am

Which university are you at? what is penegra express Lapshyn, wearing a black round-neck top with short-cropped hair, spoke only to confirm his name and date of birth and to request to speak to his lawyer during the 10-minute hearing, while he was accompanied by a team of police security guards.

Emanuel August 30, 2015 at 9:46 am

Where’s the postbox? spironolactone online pharmacy “In nearly every measure we had, hamsters exposed to blue light were the worst off, followed by those exposed to white light. While total darkness was best, red light was not nearly as bad as the other wavelengths we studied.”

Berry August 31, 2015 at 1:00 pm

Yes, I play the guitar ventolin inhaler no prescription asda The rebel group set off a roadside bomb Wednesday in nearby Maguindanao province, wounding seven soldiers, and warned of more attacks. It broke away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which has signed a preliminary peace accord with the government.

Alfonzo September 1, 2015 at 4:03 pm

How much does the job pay? how to get proscar prescription Stuckey, who is still with the team, never became a dependable point guard. The millions spent in the summer of 2009 on free agents Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva turned out to be wasted. The Pistons traded Gordon last summer, basically to get his contract off the books, to Charlotte for a first-round pick. Detroit could still deal Villanueva, who is entering the last year of his deal, to a team that might want to take on his expiring contract later this summer or during the upcoming season.

Write a comment

Subscribe to email updates