This site provides a case study of the massacre of the Donnelly family who immigrated to what is now Canada in the 1840s. Through the use of historical documents, images, and animations which depict the events leading up to and surrounding the Donnelly family and their unsolved deaths, the visitor to the site has the opportunity to role play that of historian, anthropologist, and criminologist as they attempt to solve the crime. Visitors are encouraged to examine the evidence of the crime and reconstruct it, to adopt the role of judge and examine whether a conviction would have been possible, and to examine the community and their role in the crime.
The site can be viewed in both English and French and includes a Teacher's Guide, Mystery Quests and valuable resources on which to apply critical thinking skills.
1. Evaluate authority, scope, and suitability of documents.
2. Apply archival research skills.
3. Develop critical thinking skills.
Target Student Population:
High school and undergraduate students
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Basic computer skills
Type of Material:
In class, homework, team/group projects
Browser, Flash player, Adobe reader
Evaluation and Observation
The material presented regarding the massacre of the Donnelly family is extensive, thorough, and contains an outstanding collection of historical documents that challenge many research libraries. The site offers to the visitor a real unsolved case of murder in which the visitor is challenged to solve the crime through the use of archival material.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The historical material that is presented in various forms offers the visitor to the site with a glimpse into a time and life that many today are unable to visualize and understand. The method in which the material is presented in segments (Context, Prelude, Massacre, Aftermath, Library, Archives and Characters) and in subsections offers the visitor to the site with many options in which to explore the criminal incident. Additionally, the site offers challenges to the visitor as they move through the site and the three timelines provided during which time the application of critical thinking skills is necessary. The developers of the site are to be complimented in their ability to portray the life and death of the Donnelly family.
The material is presented in a realistic manner so as to grab the visitor to the site which in turn keeps them involved with the material.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The site is easily navigated by anyone regardless of their skill and ease with computers. The major segments of the site clearly identify the focus of the segment while a menu area on the left offers subsections for the visitor to explore. Colorful media and engaging story line keeps the user's attention. The realistically organized materials facilitate the development of research skills.
Other Issues and Comments:
The diversity of opinions expressed in the archival documents, along with the the obvious biases of the contributors force the reader to think critically in order to arrive at defensible conclusions about the case.