The office is closed today as winter storm Nemo bears down on New England. I am sitting at my parents’ house with my dog at my feet watching reporters on all the different news channels get dangerously close to the ocean surf to demonstrate for viewers just how dangerous it is to get that close to the surf. Twitter and Facebook are in overdrive with friends posting photos of their backyards, front yards, and buried cars. Someone posted a link to a news spot from last night featuring her father and as I’m watching that on my computer the same spot is replayed on the television. To say that I live in a tech saturation world would seem like an understatement at this point. But I love it. I love how easy it is to remain connected to friends from around the country and how quickly I can meet new folks to engage with in conversation and debate…the only problem is finding the proper online venue to do so. Between spamming and vulgar tirades, online discussion boards are hit or miss at best. Fortunately though, there are online spaces that welcome and encourage intelligent discussion and through my involvement with Facing History’s online learning department I am constantly amazed by the individuals that come together to learn and challenge each other in our programs.
Yesterday, Facing History’s winter online courses began and already the discussion boards are taking off as educators tackle the concepts of “We & They” and explore ways in which our identities can inform our moral decision making. In the next seven to eight weeks, teachers will learn about the civil rights movement through our Choices in Little Rock online course or study pedagogical techniques to teach history in our Holocaust and Human Behavior online course. Some particularly ambitious participants are taking both courses at the same time! By the time the courses end, these teachers will have an expansive tool kit to bring to their classrooms including lesson plans, teaching strategies, unique and thought provoking readings, all in addition to access to Facing History’s lending library and online educator resources site.
As I look out the window at the accumulating snow, I am reminded of another benefit of our online programs: you can access them regardless of where you may be. London, Boston, Kansas City, or the Virgin Islands, as long as you have internet connection, this world is open to you. Sitting in snowy New England I can sign online and join the discussion between a teacher in Singapore and a professor in London. Interesting in joining the conversation? Check out www.facinghistory.org/onlinelearning to see what we have coming in online programs: workshops, webinars, and courses.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and take a picture of my snowed in backyard to post on Facebook.