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"Teaching Undergraduate Historical Methods in the Internet Age"

Melvin E. Page and Penny M. Sonnenburg,
East Tennessee State University

What are the methods of historians which apply, now that most undergraduates have entered the Internet Age? Are the core methodologies the same? What has changed? And how can the most appropriate methods be taught to undergraduate students?

These are the questions we will explore in this paper. Our observations are based upon the teaching of a sophomore/junior level course, Historical Methods, at East Tennessee State University. The senior author has been teaching the course for five years; the junior author has recently joined the teaching team as a graduate teaching assistant. The course, required of all History majors at ETSU, specifically involves engagement with modern information technologies, but also is intended as an introduction to formal study of history.

Our essential point is that the basic methods which historians use to approach and evaluate their sources, and to create their narratives, have not fundamentally changed. But we also contend that the application of the most modern information technologies offers a particular opportunity for helping students to practice those methods. We will outline specific ways we have accomplished this with students in our course and conclude with suggestions for further application of these techniques in undergraduate teaching.