The Anne Arundel County Public Schools and the Maryland State Archives propose a collaborative program to combine traditional educational goals and the use of original documents with the technology of the Internet. The focus of "Teaching in the Age of the Internet" will be to train teachers to use original sources from the Archives in an interactive electronic classroom. Participants will learn about history while mastering essential computer skills. The art of teaching can be fundamentally improved by computers; teachers' organizational methods and presentations can be revolutionized if teachers possess the right skills and equipment. Computers, when fully integrated into classroom activities, also provide the means for teachers to prepare their students to meet the challenges of the future.
For several years, the Archives has worked with educators from the Anne Arundel County Public School system to develop a successful Documents for the Classroom program. "Teaching in the Age of the Internet" combines historical content instruction with effective teaching strategies for the modern classroom environment. Participating teachers and their student assistants receive advanced content lessons from expert project staff and visiting scholars so that they have the necessary background to incorporate these materials in their own lessons. American history comes alive for their students using original sources focusing on local events which illustrate national issues and trends. Such activities help students to develop critical thinking skills essential to evaluating the vast amount of information now available through the information superhighway.
Computer technology has the ability to greatly improve the way in which teachers and students access original source materials, organize their classroom activities, and participate in collaborative learning experiences. The Documents for the Classroom program has always taken advantage of technology in the production of educational materials. Anne Arundel County Public School's ASAP initiative has already established pilot computer teaching sites and begun training teachers in their use. Recent advances in computer technology, especially related to the Internet, have permitted social studies materials of instruction to be presented and worked with on-screen in an electronic classroom, anywhere in the county. In this context, a computer is not just a passive delivery device but a framework for creative activities for teachers and their students.
The teaching strategies developed in this program are in accordance with the most advanced instruction and assessment practices. Our electronic classroom design promotes interaction between the instructor and the students, and among the students themselves, not just between students and their own computers. Collaborative learning is a fundamental element in this educational environment. The Documents for the Classroom program encourages interdisciplinary approaches and includes materials for multi-cultural studies. "Teaching in the Age of the Internet" will meet the goals of mastering content, improving analytical skills, and achieving a comfortable familiarity with computer technology. The participants in this Teachers' Institute will be able to take their new knowledge and skills back to their schools to share with their students and their colleagues.
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