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Globalizing the US History Survey: A Free, Self-Paced, Online, Collaborative, Professional Development Resource

Posted by Craig Perrier on November 21, 2014 at 1:33 pm

This week is International Education Week, an annual reminder that global perspectives are an important part of our curriculum. I want to take this opportunity to share a resource available to educators in the spirit of IEW.  In response to recent trends to globalize the American curriculum, I have helped to launch an online, self-paced professional development opportunity called Globalizing the US History Survey, developed by a team of teachers and education specialists. This online course allows participants to gain engage with new content in order to infuse global perspectives into history survey courses (those that teach large periods of time).

This resource is ideal for the demands of the AP US History Course, IB History of Americas, the Common Core, education methods courses in teacher education, and any US History course. Our goal is to provide online professional development that utilizes social media, self-pacing, and professional collaboration. Pre- and in-service teachers, teacher educators, curriculum specialists, scholars, and anyone interested in this topic are welcome to engage with this project. For a general overview, watch this screencast about the project.

Background

The concept behind this project was developed as part of my graduate work at Northeastern University where I studied for a Mater’s in History in 2011.  Subsequently, the project was funded by the generosity of the Longview Foundation and was created in partnership with the National Council for History Education (NCHE). A major inspiration for my thinking was the La Pierta Report – published in 2000 by the Organization of American Historians – that welcomed the 21st century with a challenge to US history educators everywhere.  I encourage you to read the entire piece, but I have summarized the overall vision in excerpts below:

“National history remains important, and will of course continue to be so in the future. But the national history we are describing resituates the nation as one of many scales, foci, and themes of historical analysis. Our students and public audiences will gain a heightened sense of nation-making…

By looking beyond the official borders of the United States and back again, students, we anticipate, will better understand the emergence of the United States in the world and the significance of its direct power and presence. We expect them to understand the controversial power and presence of the United States as a symbol beyond our borders. We hope students will gain a historical comprehension of the difference between being a peripheral colony and a powerful nation, and they will be introduced to some of the large historical processes, not all contained within the nation, that might explain such a shift in the geography of global power…

We believe that there is a general societal need for such enlarged historical understanding of the United States. We hope that the history curriculum at all levels, not only in colleges and universities but also in the K-12 levels will address itself to these issues… It is essential that college and university departments – which carry the responsibility for training historians who will teach at the K-12 levels–begin this work of integration…

The United States history survey course is properly a focal point for the creation of an internationalized American history. If in the survey course one embraces the simple advice to follow the people, the money, the knowledges, and the things, one would quite easily–on the basis of pure empiricism–find oneself internationalizing the study of American history.”

The Project

Recent trends have called for the “globalizing” of American education through 21st Century teaching and learning and the Common Core State Standards. These educational demands coincide with efforts in the history profession to internationalize the United States history survey course. Combined, these two paradigm shifts have generated demand to construct and teach histories that are rigorous and relevant in preparation for college and career readiness. Globalizing history education, therefore, involves an “opening” of students’ conceptions of the past through expanded content, broader methodology, and units of analysis that go beyond the nation. Preparing history teachers to do this is integral to the longevity and success of global education. This need for this resource few out of gaps in thought leadership and the scarcity of professional development programs dedicated to globalizing the US history survey.

The course includes five modules (one is pictured below) that participants complete at their own pace – each one takes about six hours.  The modules span the 20th century, each addressing a different period of history. Each module has a similar structure and features. In addition to selected primary and secondary sources/media, five scholars from K-12 and higher education created presentations for the course.

Also, Peter Stearns, a history professor at George Mason University, was generous enough to lend his support of the project. He notes, ”A more global framework creates new perspectives, and some fresh challenges, making American history a livelier experience and, of course, linking it to other history courses in a less fragmented way. Ultimately, I would suggest, a global approach to American history lets us deal with three key, and difficult, questions – important ones, but tough ones as well.” See the full recording of his comments here.

In addition, multiple teachers provided feedback on the functionality, aesthetic, structure, clarity, utility, and resources of each module.  Their insight was invaluable.

A View of Professional Development for Educators

This style of PD challenges the utility of the large conference.  These tend to be a one size fits all approach, which ignores the personalization we celebrate in contemporary education with our students.  Often, these presentations demand little to nothing form participants. Yet, you still get credit hours for just being there.  This is hardly a 21st century approach for our profession.

This project celebrates teacher creativity, agency, leadership, and content expertise – and allows educators to engage with content at their own pace, on their own time. It requires participants to generate resources and contribute content knowledge for the network to use. Upon completion of a module, participants may also receive a PD certificate emailed from the NCHE to add to their professional file.

Access to the course and the five modules is available through Blackboard Coursesites, a free LMS.  It utilizes a self-enrolling policy, so participants may sign up independently for immediate access.  Please spread the word by sharing this resource below with your colleagues and network.  Enjoy and we look forward to your insights and feedback!

This blog was adapted from a post on The Global, History Educator.