Case 15: Teaching with Primary Sources Remotely

by Kaitlin Springmier

This case study details one library’s solution to teaching primary source literacy online in response to campus decisions for fully remote instruction in response to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. Prior to the virtual transition, the library encouraged faculty to bring their classes to our Special Collections, because our goal was to provide a hands-on experience for students, customized to their course content. However, given the need for a rapid transition in a global pandemic, we were unable to create the same personalized, face-to-face experience. This case study details how we developed virtual lessons and learning activities for primary source literacy engaging learning objectives 1b, 3b, 4f, and 5a for a constellation of humanities courses exploring topics in pursuit of new understandings and interpretations of history and historical events. Originally, the virtual lessons were intended to be a direct translation of planned face-to-face instruction, however, when the instruction was implemented, we learned that the online environment provided new opportunities for students to practice and demonstrate identified learning objectives. Within the case study, readers will find information on how to create remote teaching materials for primary source literacy: from developing lesson plans and learning activities, to selecting a digital teaching collection, as well as methods for supporting students’ discovery and use of primary source materials for a culminating project.

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