Encouraging Attitudinal Change through Online Oral History

Computing technology has been used extensively in the classroom to aid students in learning about math, science, and writing. Comparatively little work has focused on the sorts of history learning computing technology facilitates, if any. Can computing technology be used to facilitate history learning? What does it mean to support history learning? How do we evaluate such learning? In this paper, we give an overview of some of the key components of history learning and discuss one way to encourage them: supporting students as they explore history through direct contact with and interpretation of primary sources. We present Palaver Tree Online, a constructionist and social constructivist environment that aims to enable authentic history learning by supporting students in doing oral history projects online. We then discuss the impact of the system on the development of empathy, one of the four forms of historical thought. Specifically, analysis of the data shows that students develop an increased empathy for elders and a stronger enjoyment of learning history through participation in online oral history.


Jason B. Ellis , Amy S. Bruckman


Ellis, Jason and Amy Bruckman (2002). "Encouraging Attitudinal Change through Online Oral History." Proceedings of ICLS 2002, Seattle, WA, October 2002. (50% acceptance rate)