Tag Archives: Conservation

Smarthistory: Khan Academy for Social Studies

Great Mosque at Damascus by G. Lewis, courtesy of Smarthistory & Flickr

Great Mosque at Damascus by G. Lewis, courtesy of Smarthistory & Flickr

Khan Academy is popular in math for its brief lectures and interactive modules. However, you can also use it in the Social Studies. Check out Smarthistory, a free multimedia platform for student and teacher of history, archaeology, museum curation, and art history.

It includes an interactive timeline, in-depth yet easy to understand articles, vibrant images, and videos about topics throughout history and around the globe. Check out “Teach with Smarthistory” for ideas on how to incorporate it into your classroom. If you are a historian, archaeologist, museum curator, or otherwise involved in the social science consider contributing an article or multimedia content. Additionally, Smarthistory contributes videos to Google Art Project.

Cultural geography, online photos, and the Field Museum of Natural History

History Tech

I consider myself a fan of museums. Maybe more than a fan. There’s not much that can beat a good museum. I can easily spend hours browsing displays, talking with docents, and learning tons.

And there aren’t many museums that can get the better of me. The Smithsonian. National Air and Space. World War One Museum. But there’s only one Field Museum. It’s huge – some 24 million objects. I’ve never made it through the entire thing. But still so cool.

So when I found out that the Field Museum is posting some of its photos online, I was pumped. The hundreds of photos are perfect for geography and cultural geography teachers.

I especially like those from the 1893 World’s Fair. But you can find historical images from a wide variety of places and times.

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Smithsonian 3D Scanning its Collection

The Smithsonian is 3D scanning its collection to preserve it for future generations. Curators have prioritized more than 14 million objects for digitized preservation.  See the full article at Engadget. Check out the video of the process of scanning and preserving the Gunboat Philadelphia.

Pens, Pencils, Papers, & iPad – Beth Holland

The next presentation I am attending at the conference is “Pens, Pencils, Papers, & iPads” by Beth Holland. Beth is talking about her experiences as an educator in a non-leveled classroom environment. When it comes to tools, which ones are better? Pens or Pencils? Macs or Windows? The reality is, it all depends on what you want to do. For example, if you are in a math class you likely want students to use a pencil – it’s ‘mistake tolerant.’ Whereas if you in a writing class, you may want blue or black ink to make it easier to read and to see where students make changes and revisions. How you want to use the tool is how you choose it. In fact, you can use multiple tools in the classroom! And you should!

The plans we develop, the tools we use, should support our classroom teaching. We need to eliminate the idea that it is one or the other – all in. I whole heartedly agree with this. As much as I integrate technology into my classroom, I also believe in a lot of traditional methodologies and practices. Variety is truly the spice of life – especially in a classroom. A white variety of tasks, objectives, and tools by which to accomplish them.

So, here are the essential questions we should ask:

  • Why Technology and even more so, why iPads?

Here are some good answers to that question: it’s customizable, mistake tolerant, accessible, mobile, communicative, collaborative, and publishable. These objectives are not always obtainable via traditional methods.

  • What do I want my students to… master, demonstrate, learn, achieve, communicate, understand?

So, what do we want our students to do and how? What’s the role of this technology in our classroom? How is this tool going to meet these objectives?

  • How will my students best… master the content, process, or skill; demonstrate their understanding; achieve clearly defined learning objectives; communicate their knowledge?

Again, it’s not about the tool, it’s about the objectives. Not all students will get there the same way. The journey will be different for all.

So how do we do this? Well, it is going to be a lot of work – define learning objectives, scaffold the skills, differentiate presentation, and vary the assessment. What we are going to do in the classroom with iPads is dependent on what we want our students to do in the classroom. This follows up Tom Daccord’s in my pre-conference workshop yesterday – you identify the need, then you look for the tool.


Should the Bamiyan Buddhas be Rebuilt?

The Buddha’s before and after their destruction (courtesy of Wikipedia).

The Buddhas of Bamiyan were monumental sculptures that stood in Afghanistan for 1,500 years. In March of 2001, the Taliban of Afghanistan succeeded in their efforts to destroy the statues in spite of wide spread protest. The Taliban government used the Islamic ban on images as justification for the extirpation of the monuments. The Times quoted Mullah Mohammed Omar as stating, “Muslims should be proud of smashing idols. It has given praise to God that we have destroyed them.”

Since the overthrow of the Taliban in 2003, archaeologists and art historians have surveyed the rubble of the Buddha’s to determine whether or not they could be repaired or reconstructed. The overall consensus was that the damage was too thorough and pervasive to allow effective reconstruction. However, a small group – most notably the German International Council on Monuments and Sites – have continued to argue and push for the statues to be rebuilt.

The decision remains controversial and likely will be debated for decades. To read more about the debate, see the article at BBC News.

Top 10 Archaeological Discoveries of 2011

This month’s Archaeology Magazine highlights the top ten finds of the 2011 Field Season. The list includes:

Digitizing Archaeology – Using Technology to Preserve the Past

One of the greatest considerations of all those who work with material objects (be it art, artifacts, buildings, etc) is conservation and preservation. In spite of our greatest resources and attempts, degradation and, ultimately, destruction of material cultural is the reality – nothing lasts forever… or can it?

Live Science is highlighting the work of the Institute of Classical Archaeology at the University of Texas which is focusing on using digital technologies to help preserve (possibly indefinitely) our records of the past.

“The development of digital technologies has exponentially magnified the amount of data we’re collecting, simply because we have the tools now to collect a lot more information much more easily than we did in the past,” Adam Rabinowitz, Ph.D.

So while archaeologists, art historians, and conservationists may not ultimately be able to indefinitely preserve objects themselves (susceptible to destruction in war, theft, negligence, or just natural processes), they may be able to retain and disseminate the information indefinitely. To learn more about these endeavors, see the article in Live Science.