HistoryConnects sees a busy summer turn into an exciting fall
Summertime might be when the students take a break, but it doesn’t feel like HistoryConnects has slowed down a bit! Over the past few months, we have added a new face, a number of new programs, made some friends in Ohio, and won an award!
Thanks to a generous grant from the Rotary Club of Richmond, we were able to bring in Sarah Robinson for the 2013–14 school year. Sarah is a senior at Virginia Commonwealth University with a major in history. Before joining us, she was an intern with the Valentine Richmond History Center, helped Dr. James Watkinson with some independent research assignments, and has been working at the VCU Child Development Center. Sarah was able to come in for a week of orientation in July and has used her time to start learning the HistoryConnects program catalog, which has grown every year.
Heading into our second full year of HistoryConnects, the VHS now offers twenty programs. Some of the additions include the African American experience in Virginia, a closer look at the famous Virginians and founding documents responsible for creating our country, and two primary source workshops. In addition to the new programs, for the first time our entire catalog will be available via video conferencing and web conferencing. We’ve done this to make the VHS a great resource for even more schools in Virginia and beyond!
We were able to test a portion of this developing material with some new friends at Wiggins Place in Beachwood, Ohio. Wiggins Place is a retirement community that has been participating in distance learning programming since 2007. It has a history of interactive programming for the lifelong learner, and we were happy to be able to share some of the treasures of the VHS through video conferencing with a group that otherwise would not be able to come to the society. We connected for four programs during the summer and look forward to working with them again in the future.
Finally, the society’s HistoryConnects initiative received a 2012–13 Pinnacle Award Honorable Mention from the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC). The award is presented annually to organizations that deliver outstanding K-12 standards based interactive video conferencing programs.
To qualify for the award, the provider must receive a minimum 2.80–2.84 average score (out of a possible 3.0) on their program evaluations from educators during the school year. The evaluation assess seven areas: two related to the effectiveness of the presenter and five to the educational content of the program. The CILC was established in 1994 as a not-for-profit that specializes in providing access to applications and the use of video conferencing for live interactive content and professional development, as well as web based collaborative learning environments for K-20 education. CILC.org serves as a clearinghouse and go-to resource for institutions looking for distance learning programming. It brings together more than 4,300 locations worldwide, with 230 content providers offering nearly 2,000 teacher-evaluated K-12 interactive video distance learning programs aligned with national K-12 curriculum standards.
HistoryConnects is an outreach education initiative offered by the Virginia Historical Society that utilizes cutting-edge technology—including Interactive Video Conferencing, web conferencing, Skype, podcasts, and online courses—to reach learners of all ages across the state of Virginia and around the nation. The 2012 school year was the first full year for HistoryConnects, and the VHS was able to conduct 180 programs for more than 6,000 participants. We are excited for the opportunity to connect and share with even more in 2013!
Evan Liddiard is Senior Education Specialist at the Virginia Historical Society.