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Blended Learning and Community Interaction

Posted on Feb 5, 2013

Pieces of paper pointing at a brain.Last May, Medina High School received an eTech Ohio grant to fund a blended learning program at their school. eTech Ohio aims to, “provide the leadership and support that promotes access to and use of all forms of educational technology needed to advance the education and accelerate the learning of the citizens of Ohio.” Shannon Conley’s Local and American History class made good use of this format and the technology available to them by creating their very own app, Discover Medina History.

The app was created with the tools provided by Mobile Historical, a location-based mobile app designed to “curate the city” (of one’s choice) through the use of geo-located historical texts, archival film and images, oral history (and other) audio, and short documentary videos. They currently have seven different functional cities curated with three more on the way.

In describing their first city, Cleveland, Mobile Historical notes that its creation, “…allowed historians to tell stories and share primary source documents and multimedia presentations based on the audience’s current location, adding a meaningful new discovery layer to public history programming.”

The ability to add a “meaningful new discovery layer” holds true in the case of Medina. The students are the historians. While students could access these kinds of documents and records in a traditional school setting, they could not be as involved with them as they are in a blended learning model. Rather than just compiling their historical accounts into a journal or class book, they are creating a living, growing thing that changes and evolves. And they’re actively participating in their community.

Conley describes her student’s involvement with the app as, “digitizing our (Medina, Ohio) local history.” Students actually go out into the community and collect stories from locals. They visit landmarks and dig for stories that portray the quintessential Medina. Not to mention they write the app’s articles too.

Mobile Historical boasts an arguably cheap price – around $3,500 for the app, noting that most professional apps cost nearly $35,000. An app would be the overall goal to shoot for, but for schools that don’t have the funding, a website would work just as well.

Kyle Vineyard is a senior majoring in English at the University of Kansas. He has a passion for the written word and a soft spot for rural America.

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