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Who Killed William Robinson? Race, Justice and Settling the Land: A Historical Whodunnit

Rating: 5 stars
Used in Course: Not used in course
Submitted by: Cathy Simpson (Administrator), Oct 06, 2003
Comment: MERLOT Web Site: Who Killed William Robinson?

Overview: After a 20 minute navigation of the web site, I was impressed how this web site invited viewers to explore original historical documents about the unsolved murder case of black American William Robinson in British Columbia in 1868. The documents included newspaper stories, inquests, trial documents, private correspondence, diaries, paintings, artist's reconstructions and photographs. The site invited learners to interpret the raw materials of the past to develop an historical understanding about what actually happened in the past. The overall goal of the site was to define and understand the role of primary sources in historical research. The primary audience was college-level students, but this site could easily be used by high school students.

Strengths: The site is an excellent teaching and learning tool. Through reviewing some primary sources, learners are invited to engage in historical research whose goal is to interpret the sources to be able to draw some substantiated conclusions about who did murder William Robinson. The accessibility to excellent primary sources is well done, and the task encourages the learners to engage in critical thinking.

The navigation throughout the site is clear and easy to follow, too. The menu bar at the top and the references on the left are easy to use.

Concerns: My concerns are only a few. One portion of the site requires using a password that only the designers of the site can provide in order to view certain interpretation sections. The designers do, however, include their email address on the site, so a learner can email them requesting the password. The site might be more effective if the learning objectives were clearly posted on the website as part of the beginning of the task.

Technical Remarks:

I was impressed by how easy it was to have ready access to primary sources in a clean, simple web site design. The enlargement of the tumbnail images and maps was well done.