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Digital Public History: Virtual Field Trips as Engaged Learning

Digital Public History: Virtual Field Trips as Engaged Learning

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Published by nancy.rubin2477
Digital Public History: Virtual Field Trips (VFTs) as Engaged Learning addresses new opportunities and challenges in teaching with technology, specifically, capturing the attention of the emerging “cyber-literate” generation by using virtual field trips to directly engage learners in public history and community memory. The project will consist of three parts: an assessment of the opportunities for technology integration in teaching and learning, the connection between digital resources and social studies, and case study of a virtual field trip using the Boca Raton Army Airfield (BRAAF) site.
Digital Public History: Virtual Field Trips (VFTs) as Engaged Learning addresses new opportunities and challenges in teaching with technology, specifically, capturing the attention of the emerging “cyber-literate” generation by using virtual field trips to directly engage learners in public history and community memory. The project will consist of three parts: an assessment of the opportunities for technology integration in teaching and learning, the connection between digital resources and social studies, and case study of a virtual field trip using the Boca Raton Army Airfield (BRAAF) site.

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Published by: nancy.rubin2477 on Oct 12, 2009
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01/13/2015

In 2001, President George W. Bush signed The No Child Left Behind Act

into law, forcing the nation’s schools system to comply with testing, reporting and

accountability requirements. The overarching goal of NCLB is to ensure that

every child, regardless of economic disadvantage, racial or ethnic identity, or

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limited English language skills, become proficient in core subjects taught in public

school (NCLB, 2001). Achievement gaps between socio-economic groups are to

be identified and closed so children of all race and income levels can read and

do math at grade level by the year 2014. The four main principles of No Child

Left Behind are: holding schools accountable to show students are learning;

increasing flexibility for schools reaching goals; providing more options for

parents to choose outside of low-performing schools; and, using research on

what works best for student learning (U.S. Department of Education, 2001).

Schools are required to make “Adequate Yearly Progress” and to report

that progress by various subgroups which can amount to over 30 groups - ethnic

groups, special education students, English Language Learners, etc. If any

subgroup fails to make AYP for two consecutive years, all students in the school

must be offered the opportunity to transfer to a “successful school.” The school

might be doing well by 36 of its 37 subgroups, but according to federal standards

the school is “failing.” Groups of educators and parents have been critical of the

No Child Left Behind Act arguing against the use of standardized testing to

evaluate school progress because some students perform better on standardized

tests than others (Rabb, 2004). Classroom teachers report feeling pressured to

“teach to the test” in order to ensure good scores for their schools. The

benchmarks for success in No Child Left Behind depend on punishment (Bracey,

2006). Schools that do not do well, often through no fault of their own, are

sanctioned for doing poorly. If a school is determined to be "failing" under the No

Child Left Behind standards, sanctions are imposed on the school. Corrective

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action for failing schools can include firing school staff, restructuring school

administration, bringing in outside professionals, and a new curriculum.

My aim here is not to critique the No Child Left Behind Act; I want to

demonstrate that it is possible to adhere to state and national standards and at

the same time engage students in technology-rich lessons. My virtual field trip

project re-focuses attention on successful educational practices rather than

educational compliance. I maintain that it is possible, in fact, desirable, to

address curriculum and technology standards in lessons, and, utilize innovative

practices to engage our students and teach them to become self-directed

learners. What motivates my project is the importance of social studies, a subject

that tends to get left out of the No Child Left Behind conversations in favor of

math and science. Elementary and middle schools have sacrificed social studies

instruction in favor of those subject areas which are tested (Manzo, 2005). In the

next section, I look more closely at national history standards and the decline of

social studies education.

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