American history... revolutions, growth, expansion, internal conflicts, trials, controversy, disagreements, treaties, and triumphs. Most of you will agree that American history covers quite a bit of information and that sometimes the traditional course taught in todayís classrooms doesn't always swallow the whole enchilada.
Our solution? A web site.
Not just any web site though. We werenít going to waste our time paraphrasing an entire textbook and slapping the product on to the Internet as a series of static web pages. That was out of the question. We planned to develop a suite of powerful and user-friendly "information tools" that would serve as the perfect supplement to any American history class. Teachers and students would now have an accessible environment that would allow for the in-depth analyses of several different topics at the same time. And so we began to build the site...
We never really got around to adding animated graphics, rainbow dividers, and other such forms of pretentious eye candy. Rather than focusing on aesthetic appeal, we spent most of our time streamlining the interactive aspects of the site. The initial stages of development began on our school districtís web server, and soon we allowed our fellow history students to test the site once these "information tools" became available.
Suprisingly, it was an instant success! Students rushed to the realtime chat room to discuss topics ranging from the colonization of America to the Civil War. Professors and graduate students were invited and often times participated in the group discussions. Students worked together to construct a comprehensive set of notes using the interactive topic outline. Site usage continued to rise at a steady pace until about a week before finals. Suddenly, hit counts skyrocketed into the thousands as students and teachers from across the nation flocked to the site to strengthen their skills in the last few days of test preparation before Advanced Placement and final exams. Afterwards, we received several "thank you" messages from students who had util ized the site for test preparation. Some even returned to the site to continue the discussions.
The site has definitely proven its usefulness as a tool for test preparation, but it ultimately encourages students to appreciate the many aspects of American history, a task even the best of teachers have fought with for years. The Collaborative Study in American History has already helped hundreds of students in studying the complex subject area of American History and will hopefully continue to do so for years to come.[an error occurred while processing this directive]