Global Educators Cohort Program - Teacher Education

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The Virtual History Museum: Technology Tools and Environments to Support the Historical Understanding of Students with Disabilities

Cynthia M. Okolo & Carol Sue Englert, Project Directors

The purpose of this project is to evaluate and refine the development of The Virtual History Museum: a web-based history-learning environment. The Virtual History Museum (VHM) is designed to improve the historical knowledge and understanding of students in inclusive classrooms by engaging students in meaningful and motivating historical inquiry. The VHM is a virtual learning space in which teachers or students, in the role of curators, can develop an exhibit, establish goals for viewers' investigation of that exhibit, and create activities for viewers to complete as they investigate the exhibit. All VHM exhibits and activities offer cognitive supports and mediational tools that facilitate full participation and success for students with mild disabilities, including text-to speech options, online help, and levels of teacher prompting.

The VHM has been used and evaluated in middle school inclusive classrooms with over 500 students. Teachers or teacher pairs use the VHM to supplement units of American History instruction, and to teach specific historical thinking strategies. We continue to study the impact of VHM use on students' historical knowledge, historical understanding, attitudes toward history, and transfer of historical thinking strategies. Our current work focuses on the facility with which students can serve as curators within the VHM, and examines the impact of curator status on students' historical knowledge and attitudes.

This project is supported by a grant from the United States Department of Education, Office of Special Education programs. Core project staff are: Emily Bouck, Carrie Anna Courtad, Anne Heutsche,Kanthakumar Pongaliur, Carrie Anna Courtad, Andrew VanEgmond, and Kristen Kereluik.
Presentation to Dr. Patricia Edward's Class, November 9, 2009