Sometimes Google can overwhelm students. Enter a name, phrase, or event under research into the search engine and Google replies with a staggering number of hits. Students may scroll for a few minutes and then (more…)

I have begun to produce short videos to assist my freshman and sophomore students with some tips on conducting research. My number one go-to place to begin online research is (no need to insert drumroll here, because of its obvious nature): Wikipedia. (more…)

Neil Halloran recently released a short video that helps us to digest the tremendous toll that World War II took upon both military and civilian casualties. Halloran, who calls himself a data visualizer as well as documentarian; and co-founder of Higher Media Incorporated based in Texas, has done a splendid job bringing home the poignancy and tragedy of this often-called (more…)

Reading is such a vital part of what historians do, so much so that I decided to produce and post a video about it. Now reading is fundamental. I can easily and readily see how a freshman in college could take offense. The problem is not so much reading, but in remembering what it is you just read.   (more…)

During the seventeenth and eighteenth century, particularly along the Great Lakes regions, movement of goods and people occurred in canoes: birch-bark canoes to be more precise. A glimpse into the world of Native Americans, early French, Dutch, and then British traders comes via a video placed by the Museum of Underwater Archeology. As historians, such videos are terrific reminders of the Historical Inquiry Process (questions well posed, sources well scrutinized, and interpretations well constructed). (more…)

Heck, I’m getting good at this. Actually I made this video prior to the other one I posted yestarday about the basics of reading notes. As you can ascertain, I’m all about developing skills in students as they struggle through their first year in college. This video shows two examples of how to develop a dynamite thesis for a major paper. Hint: It takes thinking. But that’s a good thing.  (more…)

I’ve been creating…which is a good thing. And now it’s time to see if what I have given life to actually works on a blog. Not so sure. So this post may be in error. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Today’s blog is an attempt to use technology to assist college students in reading retention. However, it involves a rather large MP4 file, like some five point nine megs worth. Not sure that’s legal. (more…)

Score one for Dr. Jeff Livingston (explanation, please).

In the many conversations we parlayed, (he the professor, me the graduate student and intern), the status of History in the post modern climate of these United States came up often. I took the position that History tends toward stuffiness, that ivory tower elitism and near incomprehensible prose are killing the discipline. Further, I argued that historians must do a better job in bringing history before the masses. For his part, Dr. Livingston deliberated on my position before advancing his measured disagreement. (more…)

Historians are trained skeptics. I often like to state that we graduated with distinction from the John Lennon School of Skepticism.

All kidding aside, historians are trained to question everything: not to take carte blanche any argument put forward by other scholars, nor rely on the surface and contextual meanings of documents, artifacts, and other various mediums of the past. In fact, the historical “school” of thought known as Post Modernist, question the very ability of historians to come anywhere near the “truth” in depicting the past.  Now that’s skeptical!

Thus, it was refreshing to see Hans Roling’s “200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes: The Joy of Stats” video which I have linked here.

I was not so much blown away by the video – which is outstanding – as much as I was with Rosling’s final summation, the way he looked at the totality of human history, the trends that have been set, and how Rosling insisted that better days await.

My historical thinking – prior to watching the Rosling video – was rooted in the Hobbsian view that life is “nasty, brutish, and short…” and that what we now live in is nothing more than an anomaly that will one day correct itself returning, as a matter of course, back to days of nastiness, brutishness, and life expectancies under forty.

After watching the Rosling clip, now I have to question even myself. Now that’s skepticism.