The History team began MELO3D with the goal to find online material to help make Michael Witgen’s “History 373: History of the American West” more interactive for students. In previous years, Michael has taught History 373, a small lecture course, by combining lectures and small-group discussions within class meetings. Through wrapped learning objects we hope to accomplish several goals Michael has set for his course:
1) We would like to make the lecture style more interactive for students by directing them to carefully chosen online material (primary sources and topical websites). Wrapped learning objects will help students prepare for the small-group discussions as they learn how to analyze sources and connect different types of material. Through learning objects students will be asked to think about the material and do much of the intellectual work themselves, considering the historical narrative of the West in juxtaposition with the West’s prominent place in American cultural memory.
2) Many of our learning objects and online resources are accessed through the Library of Congress, the National Archives, and various historical societies’ collections. Since these resources overlap with those that students should be using for research papers, we can easily work in learning modules that teach students important research skills. We plan to demonstrate, through PowerPoint tutorials, how to effectively use the LOC’s catalogues, as well as how to navigate MIRLYN and finding aids to locate appropriate resources at specific libraries on campus, such as the Bentley and the Clements.
In order to accomplish these goals, we have begun looking through learning objects, such as the “American Memory” collection available at the LOC’s website. We are collecting material, including memoirs, newspaper articles, images, and letters, to fit each week’s theme and each class meeting’s topic.
Once we have our resources, we will need to wrap them providing different degrees of direction to the students. Also, we will continue to refine how to organize and present these resources to students, possibly through an online syllabus linked to the various resources or wrapped learning objects.