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Incorporating Technology in History Lessons

Students can virtually visit historic sites around the world.

How Publishers and Providers Can Use Technology to Develop High-Quality History Lessons

We all know that history hasn’t always been a popular subject with students. Many students were put off by dry textbooks and boring lectures. But today’s publishers and providers are able to use technology to help students truly engage with history lessons. From virtual reality field trips to interactive lessons, publishers have many options. There are countless ways that technology can be used to create an engaging and effective history curriculum.

Primary Sources

Publishers can incorporate digitized original documents and artifacts from a particular time period. Therefore, students get a firsthand look at what life was like during that time. Instead of reading tedious retellings, they can read diaries and newspaper stories from the relevant time period. Thus, students can analyze and examine important documents themselves. 

One tool that can be particularly useful for this is the Internet Archive , which is a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. History lessons can easily be designed around this vast collection of primary sources. So providers can include newspapers, photographs, and even audio recordings of historical figures in their curriculum design. 

Virtual Reality Field Trips

One exciting way to use technology in history lessons is through virtual reality, or VR,  experiences. With VR-based lessons and activities, publishers can help teachers take their students on virtual field trips to historic sites and landmarks. Consequently, students will get the opportunity to explore and learn about these places in a whole new way. For example, students can visit ancient civilizations like Egypt or Greece. They can also visit important landmarks like the White House or the Great Wall of China. So providers can give them a firsthand look at these iconic structures.

In addition to virtual field trips, teachers can also use technology to create interactive lessons that help students learn about different historical events and figures. For example, they can use interactive maps to show the spread of civilizations over time.

Digital Projects

Using technology in history lessons shouldn’t be limited to helping students learn new information. Students can synthesize the information they’ve learned through many different kinds of digital projects. For instance, students can generate interactive timelines covering material that they need and/or want to learn. Interactive timelines allow students to create graphic representations of events, inputting the information that’s most important to them. Another option would be for publishers to allow students to create mock social media pages or blog posts from historical figures. Students could even create status updates that reflect how that figure might think about the goings-on of their times (or of ours!). 

If providers would like to extend the projects, they could have students make their own historical documentaries. History lessons can come alive as students gather research, text, narration, images, videos, and audio pieces to tell stories that are important to them. Students are then active participants in their own learning.

Technology has revolutionized the way we approach education. It has made it possible for publishers and providers to bring history lessons to life in the classroom. From virtual reality field trips to interactive lessons, there are countless ways that technology can be used to create engaging and effective history lessons.

Who is A Pass?

A Pass Educational Group, LLC is an organization dedicated to the development of quality educational resources. We partner with publishers, K-12 schools, higher ed institutions, corporations, and other educational stakeholders to create custom quality content. Have questions?

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Using Technology to Teach a History Lesson

When it comes to teaching a history lesson, there are many different ways to incorporate technology into the classroom. Some teachers are hesitant to use technology in their lessons, fearing that it will be more of a distraction than anything else. However, if used correctly, technology can be an invaluable tool for teaching history. In this blog post, we will discuss the pros and cons of using technology in history lessons, as well as some tips on how to utilize it effectively.

The primary benefit of using technology in a history lesson is that it allows students to engage with the material in a more interactive way. Rather than simply listening to a lecture or reading from a textbook, students can explore the past in a more hands-on way. For example, they can use online resources to research specific historical events or people, or they can use virtual reality simulations to experience what it was like to live in a particular time period.

Moreover, the material is much better perceived when you engage in several ways of perception. It is easier to remember something when you are listening to a story and watching supporting images at the same time. Another option is to use cards with the main information. For example, by the link https://www.storyboardthat.com/lesson-plans/ancient-china/vocabulary , you can find material on ancient China vocabulary that will help you tell students about the country and its culture.

Of course, there are also some drawbacks to using technology in history lessons. One of the biggest concerns is that students will become too reliant on technology and will not develop the critical thinking skills necessary to truly understand the past. Additionally, some students may find it difficult to focus when there are so many potential distractions at their fingertips. As with anything, it is crucial to use technology in moderation and to make sure that students are still spending time discussing and debating the material.

technology history lessons

Tips on Using Technology

If you decide to incorporate technology into your history lesson, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Overall, the better you are prepared for the lesson, the higher your chances of success are. You can recreate a lesson before actually starting it with the students to find all possible flaws and mistakes.

Here are some examples of activities that use technology to revitalize dull history lessons:

technology history lessons

How to Create a Lesson Plan

Now that you have some ideas for using technology in your history lesson, it’s time to start planning. Creating a lesson plan can seem daunting, but there are a few simple steps that you can follow to make the process easier.

Be sure to leave time for student interaction and discussion, as well as a debrief at the end of the lesson.

Tips on Making a Lesson Interesting

Once you have the objective and the plan, it’s time to make your lesson interesting.

One way to do this is by incorporating hands-on activities that will engage students in the material. Another way to add interest is by using technology to create a multimedia experience. For example, you can use video, audio, and photos to bring history to life.

You can also use simulations and games to give students a different way of learning about historical events. Finally, don’t forget to make your lesson fun! If you enjoy the material, your students will too.

Technology can be a great asset when used correctly, but it’s important to moderate usage and ensure that students are still engaging with the material in other ways as well. By following these tips, you can create history lessons that are both informative and interactive.

Last Updated: May 20, 2022

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15 Awesome Ways to Use Technology to Teach History

Science & technology are an obvious pairing.  But history & technology? The pairing is less obvious and the resources aren’t as numerous.  But if you’re willing to poke around, there are some fantastic ways to bring history alive using technology!  Technology can help you walk famous battlefields, get answers to your questions from actual historians, use technology to present and assess learning, and more.

6 Tech Resources for Teaching History

If the Civil War is on your study list this year, put yourself & kiddos “on” the battlefield with battlefield virtual tours from the Civil War Trust. You can walk the battlefields from some of the most famous battles including Antietam, Gettysburg, and Chancellorsville.  Historical tidbits, the occasional talk from a park ranger, etc. are included as you experience these awesome field trips. Do you want to know what else has happened today in history?  The History Channel has you covered with the Alexa skill This Day in History . Is this year’s history a modern history cycle instead?  Real-Time World War II is an amazing Twitter account that tweets WW2 events as if they were happening now.  Throughout the day, tweets recount events in both theaters, often with links and/or photos. Reddit, like so many social sites, can be a mess…and it also has it’s beautiful spots in the mess.  The Ask A Historian section is a definite gem! Ask your own questions or just spend time browsing so you & your kiddos can learn what you never knew you never knew.  {They also have a great podcast .} StoryCorps can be an interesting way to get one person’s slice of life in relation to history {through their short, weekly radio stories/podcasts} but that’s now why I’m recommending it.  They have a set of lesson plans to teach kids how to interview someone in their family, including really cool questions, so they can learn more about their own family’s place in history.  {They call it the Great Thanksgiving Listen, watch my video about our experience.} The Digital Public Library of America is a one-stop-shop for all sorts of photos throughout America’s history–from major events to historical photos of your hometown.

4 More Tech Ideas for Teaching History

C-SPAN Classroom has some cool resources for teaching about the government.  One resource that would be great for persuasive papers is their Classroom Deliberations . A topic is presented along with various video clips and articles for students to build their arguments. We are lucky to have some really amazing museums in this country!  But not all of us can travel to them.  Technology bridges that distance!  Virtual field trips on their websites, lesson plans, sometimes live presentations and their YouTube channels can enhance your learning.  But don’t stop at the museums here–museums around the world offer some fantastic resources, too.  Many of our national parks also have some great tech resources, too. Other social studies Alexa skills : 5-minute news flash from Reuters , 10-minute news segment of today’s headlines from NPR , State Capital Game , Ultimate History Quiz , and National Geographic Geo Quizzes . Most often in the car, we have a documentary playing or an audiobook but, sometimes, I put on a podcast.  A few history podcasts to check out:

{Be sure to preview the podcasts before you listen.  None of these are inappropriate for children but topics or engagement level may not be suitable for your kiddos.}

5 Resources to Aid Their Learning

Visme is a beautiful, FREE timeline creator .  I’m going to assign my daughter to create one every month next year as she studies US History.  I’ll have her present it to me and give me a summary of each event. Create retellings of your studies using the comic strip creator on Storyboard That.  Maybe stop-motion animation is more your kiddos’ styles!  We love the free app from Stop Motion Studios –it’s super easy {and fun!} to use.  A reenactment of the Constitutional Convention, the San Francisco earthquake of 1903, the Battle of Gettysburg…so many possibilities! A digital version of the old Guess Who? game would be a great way to play around with figures from history.  Create boards featuring notable figures in your history cycle and have your kiddos ask questions based on their knowledge of history! PBS Learning Media has taken care of tracking down videos for you.  You’ll find hundreds of videos, from short clips to longer documentaries, plus images & documents all organized by topic.  Some include support materials like teacher guides & student note pages.  The Smithsonian Learning Lab is a similar type of resource.  Browse & use their collections or create your own custom collections. Digital trading cards would be a fun end-of-the-year idea.  You and your kiddos can each create a few cards featuring events & people you enjoyed that year.  Or, for a twist, choose the biggest traitors, least understood events, shocking events, etc.

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Using Technology to Encourage Students’ Engagement with History

Marjorie hunter.

Students now entering the K–12 system have been raised with advanced technology from birth. These students—the post-MTV Generation—never saw a BetaMax videotape or experienced the joys of making a phone call using a pencil jammed in the finger holes and listening to the click, click, click of the rotary dial. With the advent of cell phones and, most notably, the iPad, effectively incorporating new technologies in the classroom has become a costly challenge in many schools, particularly in high poverty areas.

I primarily teach Advanced Placement (AP) and Pre-AP World history at the Academies of West Memphis, a suburban school located in West Memphis, Arkansas. I have taught U.S. history, economics, and lower-level world history at the high school level. Last year the high school underwent a name change and a revision to the curriculum. Through a collaborative effort with a local community college, the Academies now offer courses in high-tech fields such as website design and digital communications as well as a traditional high school curriculum.

The local economy relies heavily on traditional blue-collar work such as trucking distribution centers for several major companies and some light manufacturing. Of the 1,100 students at the Academies, approximately 85 percent are African American, 14 percent are white, and less than 1 percent are Asian. The Academies and most of the other district elementary and junior high schools qualify for Title I status while the entire district has free and reduced lunch through a special federal grant.

The ability to tap into Title I funds allows the Academies to implement WiFi access points throughout the school. Luckily, I have a router in my classroom so my students have strong WiFi signals for the iPad and Chromebook carts—on most days. Occasionally, the WiFi refuses to cooperate with my lesson plans and students have logged onto the "Whopper WiFi"—the free internet access at the Burger King across the street. I refuse to allow an inoperative system or slow internet connections interfere with my students' learning. Thank you, Burger King!

The WiFi issue is but one of many difficulties I face when incorporating technology into my students' lessons. Technology becomes obsolete quickly and schools cannot keep up with the changing pace. The iPad cart in my classroom has twenty-nine iPads that recently celebrated their fifth birthday. Grant money runs out eventually, so iPad apps need to meet the essential budget requirement of free or I must purchase the desired app myself. Some of the apps students love using have undergone enough updates that they are no longer free or do not work properly with the iPads due to changing operating systems.

The problems with technology sometimes seem never-ending and often require creative problem solving. For example, one of my AP students was able to access the Internet only through his smart phone. Completing his online homework became a challenging obstacle to overcome—the small screen size, phone browser and website incompatibility, and data plan severely curtailed his ability to complete assignments on time. Many of my students had to use the public library, stay after school, give up lunch, or come to school early—some arriving as early as 6:30 a.m. and staying as late as 6 p.m. In addition, students voluntarily come to school on Sunday afternoons for several hours to work on their assignments, including group projects.

The problem of access led me to ask students this past fall to brainstorm a list of stores, restaurants, and other public places with free WiFi for customers, thinking that perhaps someplace other than school would seem more desirable to students. An amazing number of local places turned up—pizza parlors, fast food restaurants, and even gas stations! After this survey (and a stern teacher warning about the perils of three or four teens sitting inside a parked car at the local gas station), students began meeting at the Burger King or a nearby McDonald's to work on cooperative learning projects and other assignments. I suspect that the gatherings often garnered many suspicious questions from parents, but the students produced some amazing projects and demonstrated critical thinking skills by devising solutions to technology limitations.

Too often teachers and students see technology as a game or as a reward for completing boring worksheets or taking lecture notes. When used effectively in the classroom, iPads and Chromebooks encourage in-depth reading because they allow students to follow various links embedded in websites. Students willingly attempt complex texts that normally receive a cursory glance and sometimes a dismissive attitude when the vocabulary is perceived as too difficult. Last August, for example, I gave each student a copy of a National Geographic article on the Iceman found in the Alps some years ago. Students experienced difficulty with the reading and using context clues to decipher meaning. I used a combination of two different reading strategies that work well in group settings and eventually we slogged through the three-page document in four class periods. By the end of the week, we were all exhausted and heartily tired of the magazine article.

When I assigned a website hosting a similarly complex text document on the same Iceman topic, however, students struggled less with vocabulary, engaged more enthusiastically with the material, and asked more thoughtful questions about the content. I attribute this difference to reading the text on the iPad. One of the most telling markers for increased student concentration was that students were still reading, taking notes, and discussing the document when the bell rang! As the year progressed, this phenomenon became more commonplace and a few students actually came to class the next day discussing additional research they did during lunch or at home. Even one of my ADD/ADHD students came to class early from lunch eager to share what he found online the previous evening!

Typically, I start the year by assigning a tried-and-true classroom activity such as a small, manageable poster presentation. This allows students to foster a cooperative team spirit that lasts throughout the school year. I gradually increase the technology used in assignments so students have ample opportunity to use it for learning rather than game playing, texting, and social media. By the end of the spring semester, students have become accustomed to iPads and Chromebooks in the classroom through summative assessments, reading assignments, and projects resulting in a well-prepared class that can begin working on more advanced technology-driven projects.

I try to incorporate a variety of technology experiences for my students. It is not enough for students to create a Powerpoint with a few historical images and post it online. Traditional history classes teach students how to read pie charts or bar graphs for statistical information. I, however, teach students to collect and summarize data needed for authentic historical inquiry. I also want students to examine and discuss topics not usually found in textbooks. I want to stimulate curiosity about our nation and our place in world history. For example, many books mention the influenza pandemic of 1918 but few delve beyond citing the 450,000 Americans that died. I developed a study unit that required students to use Internet resources to discover how societies changed and adapted due to diseases such as cholera, measles, polio, and diphtheria. Students compared information found on multiple websites and then used Infogram to create an infographic summarizing the changes and continuities. This free website requires public publishing in order to view the completed product, which allows my digital users to become digital producers for the first time.

My Pre-AP classes finished the school year with a complex technology project on the Cold War that included music, Google images, and embedded YouTube video clips. Students began by researching vocabulary associated with the Cold War such as domino theory, containment, the Warsaw Pact, and NATO to help set the stage. We also watched the made-for-TV movie The Day After so students could connect visually with the effects of the Cold War and a failed mutually assured destruction policy. This film encouraged my students to immerse themselves into the Cold War and heightened their awareness of today's nuclear proliferation concerns. Students then used Google slides for their presentations. After developing a working vocabulary of the historical period, I divided the topic into three sub-topics: the Space Race, political and military issues, and the social aspects of the Cold War. Each group of students selected an overarching topic and could choose to approach their project however they wished. One group chose to examine how the Cold War affected U.S. pop culture by examining James Bond movies that reflected ideological tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States. Another group researched nuclear weapons development and the SALT talks. Yet another group decided to examine some of the scientific aspects of the Space Race, including freeze-dried convenience foods such as Tang and instant coffee that influenced American culture.

As a result of my pedagogical shift to technology infused with project-based learning, my students have become consumers and producers of historical information. This change has allowed me to rediscover the joy of teaching a classroom filled with highly engaged, curious students who ask questions about their world and have an eagerness to share their technological prowess and historical knowledge with friends and family.

Marjorie Hunter is a teacher at the Academies of West Memphis in Arkansas, where she teaches AP World History and Pre-AP World History. She received a doctoral degree in Heritage Studies from Arkansas State University—Jonesboro.

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IEEE Reach

Free, History of Technology, Inquiry-Based Lesson Plans

Bring the stories of technology and engineering into your history classes.

Inquiry learning empowers students to ask deep questions and do historical research that matters to them. No one debates the value of inquiry design in education, but teachers often lack the time and energy to develop high-quality inquiry lessons on a regular basis. Similarly, very few history teachers would reject the opportunity to infuse the stories of technology into their daily lessons, but who has the time? If only there were a FREE resource that infused technology and engineering into inquiry-based history lessons for high school teachers.

IEEE REACH creates free units of study, following the Inquiry Design Model, that engage your students in an exploration of the interaction of technology and history. Our C3 units span the spectrum of history from Athenian triremes to military drones, all while honing historical thinking skills like document analysis and persuasive writing. Every unit is the product of professional research by historians of engineering and technology adapted for high school students by experienced educators – and everything we offer is free to teachers and their students! Primary source documents, hands-on activities, and short videos are also included.

Technology is an integral part of history. It didn’t start with STEM – it’s been there all along. No matter your level of technological understanding, you can bring the stories of technology and engineering into your history classes with IEEE REACH. Registration is easy, fast, and everything is FREE! Create an account today, and bring technology and history together in your classroom – just like it is in real life!

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IEEE REACH provides teachers & students with free educational resources that bring to life, through the lens of history, the impact engineering and technology have on humanity.

By creating a free account, you will have complete access to all IEEE REACH resources.

Society for the History of Technology (SHOT)

Syllabi, Lessons Plans, and Other Teaching Materials

MIT Open Coursework

An extremely useful source of lesson plans and related teaching materials is the National Endowment for the Humanities sponsored Website, Edsitement: Lesson Plans . A search for “history of technology” or a specific subject can yield a lesson that includes an introduction, guiding questions, learning objectives, preparation instructions, lesson activities, and a section on extending the lesson through the use of other materials and resources.

SIGCIS , the SHOT Special Interest Group on Computers, Information, and Society maintains an extensive syllabus repositor y with more than 40 examples of courses in the field, authored and compiled by SHOT members.

You Can Help Build the SHOT Library of Teaching Materials

While many of us teach the history of technology as a discipline or as one aspect of some other historical field, we don’t always have the opportunity to share the ideas and techniques we use to engage students on the subject. Now you can make those ideas and techniques available to other educators by contributing a variety of materials–from syllabi to individual lessons plans–to the SHOT Website. We are seeking syllabi for survey courses and narrower topical courses in the history of technology, as well as materials on the subject as an integrated component of another historical field. We are also seeking materials that are useful in teaching K-12 students, museum visitors, and non-traditional audiences. You may email a link for your course Website or you may send PDFs of your course materials as an email attachment to the SHOT Secretary . Please, help accelerate the rate at which material is added to this site by participating.

Thank you for your generous assistance in building this valuable resource.

technology history lessons

16 Tech Tools to Teach History

16 Tech Tools to Teach History

Many students find learning history to be boring, but it doesn’t have to be!  Here are some tech tools that teachers and students alike can use to make learning history fun. 

Websites for History

Big History Project

A free introductory history course that establishes an interdisciplinary foundation of historical thinking practices, and a free standards-based world history course that builds upon those foundational skills in preparation for AP, college, and beyond.


Free educational videos and resources for middle school through college social sciences.  Your students can study independently, you can use content for your lessons or you can create playlists for your students to review.

Khan Academy

Incredibly helpful, straightforward, standards-aligned videos, practice exercises and articles.  Topics for 7-12 include various history topics under the arts & humanities umbrella.  Teachers can assign work and track student progress with a teacher account.

Google Arts And Culture

Your students can explore and interact with art and architecture around the world, with new picks featured every day.

Games for History 

Oregon Trail  

This classic game is a fun way to get elementary students invested in learning about Westward Expansion.

Playing History  

There are tons of free historical games, interactives and simulations on the web. Playing History aggregates info on these resources in a simple, searchable database making it easy to find, rate, and review historical games. This site currently connects you to 126 shared games.

Gaming the Past

These pages provide overviews of (and links to) a variety of freeware games on US History, World History and global issues.  The collection also includes commercial and online simulation games, so pay close attention to the categories and descriptions.

Apps for History

Genius World History Quiz

A trivia game app that lets students test their knowledge, share questions and answers with friends and level up.  Answer the questions correctly and discover the most important periods and civilizations in the history of mankind. For each question, there is a clear and comprehensive explanation rich in information that will allow you to learn history while having fun. ( Android ) 

The History of Everything

A vertical timeline that allows you to navigate, explore, and compare events from the Big Bang to the birth of the Internet. Events are beautifully illustrated and animated. ( Android & Apple )

Today In History

Quote of the day, images, headlines and more for each day in history.  This is a great source for daily warm-ups! ( Apple )

Civilisations AR

This app comes with the ability to superimpose ancient artifacts onto the real world. That allows you to inspect their various intricate details and learn how they came into existence.  There is also a photo mode so you can snap a picture of yourself with the objects to share elsewhere. ( Android & Apple )

Podcasts for History

Listening to, dissecting, and responding to topics via podcasts can be a great way to get kids to engage in important discussions.  As an audio-only medium, podcasts also foster listening skills.  You can have a class-wide discussion about the selection, and/or whip up some reflection sheets to help focus your students and get them thinking critically about what they heard.  In addition to listening to podcasts whole-class, they can also be added in as an independent choice station.  

Middle/Upper Elementary – The Radio Adventures Of Dr. Floyd , The Past and The Curious  

Middle School/Early High School – Stuff You Missed in History Class  

High School – 1619 , Code Switch   

Many students find learning history to be boring, but it doesn't have to be!  Here are some tech tools that teachers and students alike can use to make learning history fun.

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technology history lessons

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