Tweeting from the Past: History Course Uses Social Media to Bring Research to LifeHistorians in the News
tags: teaching, academia, digital history, teaching history
If Martin Luther King Jr. had an Instagram account, what would he post?
Students in the HIST 100: Making Global History course are finding out. As a class assignment, they are building social media presences for historical figures. Some are existing figures, like Dr. King, Susan B. Anthony and Alexander Hamilton. Others are characters the students have invented based on historical context, like an American soldier serving in Korea.
The idea for this project first came to Associate Professor of History Autumn Quezada-Grant when she saw a Ted Talk by Thomas Ketchell. Ketchell is a historian and climate activist, who uses technology as an educational tool. Ketchell was living and working in Beijing, China. He was trying to tell his family and friends back home about the smog problem there but they didn’t quite believe how bad it was. He did some research and learned about the Great London Smog of 1952. He created a Twitter account, from the perspective of a person living in that historical context, and developed a large following, thus spreading the word about the history of air pollution, on a platform that resonated with modern society.
A lightbulb went off for Quezada-Grant. Her students could use social media to explore issues facing society, by delving into their historical contexts.