How To Teach History Online: A Practical Teacher’s Guide


Tech History Online

When teaching History online it is great to know how to host your content and create it online as well as what resources there are out there to save you time.  This article will walk you through all of this so you can get started as quickly as possible.

What you need to know to teach History online is:

  • Teaching Level
  • Online Resource Types
  • Learning Styles
  • Creating Content
  • Hosting Content
  • Online resources

Let’s take an in-depth look at every aspect you need to understand before teaching history online.

Teaching Level

The first thing you will have to decide is what type of School Level you are thinking of teaching.  This will determine the way in which you will deliver your online training.

The Teaching Levels are:

  • Middle school
  • High school
  • University
  • Adult Interest

Online Resource Types

The advantage of teaching History online is the huge amount of resources that you have available to you.  I have listed some examples of these below.

Some of the ways you may engage students online are:

  • Use plenty of YouTube or Video Content
  • Link to related Historical Websites
  • Include Relevant Mobile Applications
  • Recipes of Food from the Time Period
  • Link to the History Channel Website
  • Examples of Clothing Materials
  • Designs Documents of Tools and Technology
  • Transport Of The Age
    Maybe overlay on a google map days to travel on each transport type
  • Global Reenactment Events
  • Computer Games

The great advantage of being online is you can link to Simulations and 3D models of all of these and many other tools.

Online Learning Styles

When you are teaching History online you need to pick how you would like your students to learn.  How much time you will be spending with them.  Will there be an interactive learning environment or will it all be self-paced.

Online Learning Styles:

  • Self Paced (eLearning)
  • Social Learning
    • Online Text Chat
    • Group Video & Audio Chat
    • Forums
  • Live Classrooms
    • Web Conferences
    • Live Virtual Classrooms
  • Flipped Classroom

Self Paced (eLearning)

This style of training delivery is great for introduction topics where the skills or concepts are easy to grasp.  While as an industry online teaching is moving away from simple books online and towards more interactive and engaging training.  We have all done some training online and without a community or easy access to a trainer the value of the training is not high.

Social Learning

Online Text Chat

Online text chat rooms allow students to learn history by chatting with their teacher and with other students. This provides a level of community for the students to feel part of the online class that they would not otherwise get with eLearning only.

Group Video & Audio Chat

This allows students to have group style meetings they would for team building in assignments and for study groups. They can do this through mobile apps like WhatsApp, Web Conferences like Zoom or many other applications.

Forums

Forums are a great idea if your students are not all in the same time zone. It allows them to post replies and start topics in an online forum. This way they can start threads or topics on the things that are important to them.

Live Classrooms

Web Conferences

Most people have been part of a web conference if they are in their working life and more so now since Covid.  The ability to deliver live classes simply with showing your screen, camera and having a text chat has now been proven all across the world.

Live Virtual Classrooms

Using cloud based virtual machines with web conference software and classroom management software means you can have a controlled classroom for your students with the closest to real classroom as possible.

Flipped Classroom

The concept of a Flipped Classroom where the student study the content normally delivered in the lecture before class and then having an extended tutorial with the actual professor.  This can be done online with a web conference taking the role of the live classroom session.

Creating Content

When you are teaching online you have many rich multimedia content types you can use when you are creating your content and we will discuss some of the simple ones here. 

Here are some of the simple content types and how you can create them:

  • Text
  • Audio
  • Animations
  • Interactive assignments

For a full list of eLearning Content Types check out this article:

ARTICLE: The Ultimate Guide to eLearning Content Types

Text

Text content is not the most engaging format you can use. However, during online history classes, you will find yourself using it a lot. The reason for this is that it is quick to create and update. 

The most common tools you can use for this are:

  • Google Docs
  • Notepad
  • OpenOffice
  • Directly in the Learning Management System (LMS)

Audio

Audio is a great way to disseminate information to large groups of students and whether you do it using text to voice services or record your own lectures to put on your LMS or in a Subject Podcast.  These are all great ways to teach students.  Unlike with video, the students don’t need a screen to learn. 

They can listen to it on the way to or from University or Work or in some cases at work depending on their job.  This reinforces the topics and concepts they have gone through in live online classrooms or through self-paced study.

The most used software solutions for recording and processing audio files are:

Animations

Animations are great when teaching young students. To make the topic more understandable you can use animations even for all ages as it is a simple method of teaching complex topics or concepts in a simple way.  Keep in mind though they can be expensive to make.

The most popular animation creation applications used for online courses are:

These applications simplify animation and allow you to make simple animations when you are not an artist.  Students do find these more engaging.

Interactive Assignments

Interactive assignments are a great idea regardless of the subject taught. Making your students interact during the online learning process will enhance their engagement.

There are heaps of interactive tasks you can assign to your students. For example here are 27 interactive assignment ideas for online students.

Hosting Your Course

If your school, university, or college already has a Learning Management System (LMS) then you won’t need to worry about this.  You can just host your content on that LMS. If you don’t have an LMS then you will need to pick one that suits your needs.

You can either host your own online course using a learning management system or upload your content on an online course-hosting platform.

 The most popular platforms are:

If you are planning on hosting your course on a learning management system make sure you check out the two articles listed below before deciding which is the best LMS for your course.

ARTICLE: Canvas Vs Moodle: Which is better for online teachers?
ARTICLE: Blackboard vs. Moodle: How To Choose What Works For You?

Online Resources

Teaching history online requires good resources that can be used during classes. On the internet, you can find helpful websites that provide quality resources.

The most used websites for history-related content are:

  • Digital History
  • Teaching with Historic Places
  • Smithsonian’s History Explorer
  • Best of History Websites

You can find 51 great online resources for history teachers here.

Digital History

http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/

Digital History is a website that provides well-researched resources for history teachers. It can be used for both online and offline teaching. However, it is designed mainly for online courses having a multitude of lessons that can be accessed by online students.  This is mainly a United States History website.

There are various topics included on this website. Lessons are listed chronologically and by subject.  So you can pick the 1600’s or American Food for example.

When picking the content chronologically it will give you all the major events in that period (starting from the colonial times to the 21st century). When picking by the subject it divides the lessons into several groups (from advertisements and architecture to science, technology, and slavery).

Additionally, the website features a section called “eXplorations”. It allows students to explore inquiry-based interactive modules. The students can use different lessons to conduct research, analyze original sources, and draw their own conclusions.

Teaching with Historic Places

https://www.nps.gov/subjects/teachingwithhistoricplaces/index.htm

The National Park Service created a platform that allows students to understand the historical importance of different places. The website features multiple lesson plans addressed to history teachers. This is another website that focuses on USA content.

The ‘Lesson Plans’ section allows teachers to sort the resources by different categories:

  • Theme – Lesson plans based on themes in American history
  • Time Period – Lessons based on a certain era
  • State – Resources related to a certain state or territory
  • Curriculum Standards – Lesson plans by curriculum standards

Using historic sites as a means for understanding American history is a great way for students to learn recent history.

Smithsonian’s History Explorer

https://historyexplorer.si.edu/

The well known Smithsonian’s History Explorer website features interesting tools for teaching history online.  It also means that if you are going to take a field trip to the USA the students could visit the actual museum as part of the class.

This website allows teachers to choose appropriate activities for the students depending on their needs and are stored in a database or resources.

Available resources are:

  • Level of study
  • Resource type
    • Artifacts
    • Reviewed websites
    • Interactives & media
    • Lessons & activities
    • Worksheets
    • Primary sources
  • Historical era
  • Cross-curricular connections

One of the most important features included on the website is called ‘Lessons & Activities’. It provides relevant resources that can be used during the online teaching of history.

Best of History Websites

http://besthistorysites.net/

This website is an online database that contains heaps of history-related websites. The vast variety of resources includes all the possible topics. Starting from biblical history to modern history, this platform sorts the resources in four main categories:

  • Lesson plans
  • Maps
  • Games and animations
  • Research

Tools

If you have never created online training content for eLearning there will be some skills you will need to develop.  As well as the skills you will also need to know what tools you will need to make your content creation easier.

You can find out how to create an online course for free (in 3 simple steps) here.

Glen Brown

I am a Technical Trainer and Manager with over 20 years experience in IT, Education and Business. I have multiple qualifications on each topic including post graduate qualifications. I have a passion for sharing knowledge and using technology to do this. If you would like to know more about me please see the about page of the website.

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