How to read history as conversation?

The key factor that digital media contributes to the teaching of historical thinking is, in my view, accessibility and flexibility. More than ever, it is possible for instructors to find and collect secondary and primary sources for use in the classroom and also to use these materials in combination with an abundance of digital tools such as text mining, mapping and other kinds of visualizations. 

The main target audience of my project are college students. From the beginning of my career as a teacher of African history I struggled to find primary sources in my courses. I also struggled compiling secondary sources that I could use since I always refused to use text books. The availability of digitized articles, books and book chapters has made it a lot easier for me to expose my students to the debates of historians and to emphasize the study of historiography and thus, the understanding of historical thinking as a way to learn about multiple interpretations and the means to analyze and evaluate them. 

Not surprisingly, this same abundance and availability also requires that I carefully curate the readings I present and that I help students develop tools to successfully navigate them. I believe this can be achieved using annotation tools where students can use annotations to identify different elements of the argument that is presented by the author. However, in my original pitch, I had only identified elements of the story and argument that I wanted students to annotate. After giving it some thought, I believe the annotation tool can also be a good tool for students to identify the historiographical content that most articles contain. In fact, I was thinking that it may be useful to annotate two articles at the same time. This would enable students to identify the differences in the presentation of the story, the sources used, and the framing of the argument. Pedagogically speaking, I could use one article to present an example of how to annotate, and then use an article that is in conversation with the first, for students to annotate. 

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