I believe that the malleability of the past in digital world makes it easier to teach and engage audience(s) with the past. This is primarily done through making more content readily available, making content accessible, connecting information together, and presentation.
The simple act of making primary source documents more available is a crucial step. Often times in my work we receive requests from individuals who want us to provide them with information. They heard or read a quote somewhere that was cited as being by George Washington. If we know the document that is being referred to, we can help them not only by providing them with a transcription of the text but also by providing an image of the original when we can. We can also direct them to where the document is located, so that they may view it themselves.
Making content accessible is equally as important however. Just because the information is available somewhere on the web, it doesn’t really mean anything if now can find it. Through the use of metadata, we can make content both browseable and searchable so that our audience can find relevant information. Taking the next steps of connecting related content and resources further helps our audience. They encouraged to dig deeper and can find the information fast.
While these three points are important, the presentation of the information is equally as important. Many of our current audiences like information that is quickly available. They don’t want to click all over the place to find bits of information. They are also used to certain functionalities and features when it comes to websites. Following current web practices will encourage users to continue to use a resource as. It will have familiar aspects, and be easier to use.
The availability, accessibility, content connections, and presentations all help to when teaching history in the digital world. These benefits outweigh the cons, and we should look to continue to improve how teaching is done using digital tools.