Revolutionaries of Today: Students

Posted on April 24, 2012 by

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Little would most people guess that the American Revolution is still taking place today, and that at the forefront of the change is, among other places, our history classroom. That’s right, I think that, thanks to our teacher Mike and the many others like him, kids and educators everywhere are starting a new kind of revolution: a revolution in the way we gather information and then share it–in short, a revolution of the learning process. Paul Cezanne expresses this idea perfectly, if rather abstractly:

The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution.
Paul Cezanne

When we change the way we view something, such as an event in history (or even a carrot), we change our understanding of it, revolutionizing our experience with it. This year my history class has not only taught me about the Wars of the Roses and Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, but it has also opened my eyes to all the innovate technology available to modern learners. The shear amount of information that’s on the web is incredible, but even better are the equally incredible worldwide networks, databases, blogs, etc that allow us to access practically any information we want. When I think of information sharing online, the first thing that comes to mind is, of course, Wikipedia, but my history class has showed me that there are so many more places that go way beyond. Just to name a few: WorldCat, a database that combines access to over 10,000 library catalogs worldwide; JSTOR, a database that provides access to journals and primary documents online; and Proquest, a database similar to JSTOR, providing access to articles and primary documents online.

This is a Wordle of all the words in this blog post.

Even blogs, such as this one, are part of this revolution. Blogs are just another means of sharing information, but are enhanced by being a collaborative, interactive, and global way to publish ideas. The blog Copy/Paste, by influential thinker and educator Peter Pappas, is an excellent example of using new technologies as well as theories to drive modern learning. Other tools that I have recently discovered include the presentation maker Prezi, a more involved alternative to the traditional PowerPoint, and Wordle, a fun way to display text through ‘word clouds’. By changing the way I share information, I have been able to hold an audience’s attention for longer as well as actually engage them in the history I am presenting.

Our current project in my history class is a documentary video on an aspect of the American Revolution, and it is entirely student driven. While my class was doing basic research to brainstorm possible topics, we discussed the role of communication in the Revolution. That got me wondering, what would the turnout have been if there were iPhones and email? And that made me realize that learning is really all about communication. It’s about how we find information, interpret it, and then share it with other people, and I hope that by sharing this blog post with you I’ve continued the circle of learning.

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Quote: Cezanne, Paul. “Revolution Quotes.” BrainyQuote. 2012. Web. 23 Apr 2012. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/revolution_5.html

Image:Carrot. 2012. Photograph. The Battersblog. Web. 24 Apr 2012. http://battersblog.blogspot.com/2011_09_01_archive.html

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