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Center for History Teaching and Learning
Established at UW-Eau Claire
MAILED: Nov. 9, 2001
EAU CLAIRE — As part of an ongoing effort to seek better ways to serve both students and the Chippewa Valley community, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire officials recently approved the creation of a new UW-Eau Claire Center for History Teaching and Learning.
The mission of the new center is to use the latest pedagogical innovations and new technologies to advance history education, specifically addressing the professional needs of K-12 teachers, as well as undergraduate and graduate students of education and history, in the context of K-12 standards.
"This will help bring together the training of historians and the training of teachers, and, we believe, help produce historians who are better teachers and teachers who are better historians," said Dr. Roger Tlusty, foundations of education professor and one of the key people involved in creation of the new center.
According to the proposal document, the creation of the new center fits well with the UW System Board of Regents' 2000-01 commitment to a pre-kindergarten through college strategy, which requires cooperation not only between the various educational sectors, but also with the broader community. It states that both the impact of K-12 standards on higher education and the relationship of technology to teacher education - two issues discussed by the Regents - are central to the mission of the center
"The center will promote student projects that use technology as a tool for the organization and dissemination of historical material," said Tlusty.
Because approximately one-half of undergraduate majors in the department of history are education students and a number of graduate students are K-12 teachers, Tlusty and other UW-Eau Claire faculty members have realized for some time that cooperation between the school of education and the department of history is crucial to serving the need of these students, as well as the needs of teachers and schools in Northwest Wisconsin.
These faculty members believe that although exploring how new philosophies and technologies can be used to improve teaching and learning has traditionally been the business of the school of education, while historical content has been the business of the history department, teaching methods and content are actually inextricably linked and both groups end up conducting some of the same types of research projects.
The Virtual Museum Partnership, which was funded by an Eisenhower Professional Development Grant from 1999-2001, is an example of the type of collaboration that has been going on informally for some time, and that the center will continue to encourage and support.
A virtual museum is a collection of electronic artifacts and information resources, which may include paintings, drawings, and photos; diagrams and graphs; audio and video recordings; newspaper articles; transcripts or interviews; databases; or virtually anything that can be digitally displayed. The Partnership project joined the Virtual Museum of the Chippewa Valley, created by Tlusty and several classes of his teacher/students, with the Virtual Museum project of five rural northwestern Wisconsin school districts.
Excitement over the project continues to grow. Dr. Katherine Lang, assistant professor of history and another faculty member instrumental in creation of the center, recently wrote a new National Endowment for the Humanities Grant, which, if funded, will allow Lang and Tlusty to establish a new wing of the Virtual Museum in cooperation with both the middle and high schools of the Augusta School District.
Other possible future partnerships projects are already in the works. For example, CESA 10 has expressed an interest in housing the Virtual Museum, and the State Historical Society has voiced an interest in possible collaboration on National History Day programming. Lang also notes that as licensing rules for teachers continue to change, the center will likely explore more global history programming to meet this need.
According to Tlusty, creation of the new center is important because it will establish a formal structure for nurturing and recognizing collaborative work between these various groups, establish regular lines of communication, and help avoid duplication of programming.
All programming for the new center will be funded by external grants, funds raised through the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, or through the Office of University Research and the Network for Excellence in Teaching.
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: Nov. 9, 2001