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Peer Review

The Vikings. The North Atlantic Saga

by Arctic Studies Center


Overall Numeric Rating:

5 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 5 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: Feb 19, 2002 by History Editorial Board
Overview: "The Vikings. The North Atlantic Saga" is a Smithsonian produced web site designed to highlight an exhibit on Viking exploration of the North Atlantic commemorating the millenary voyage and landing of Lief Eriksson at Vinlnad in North America. The site provides a broad overview of the Vikings and their expansion from Northern Europe to the Atlantic in the 9th and 10th centuries C.E.
Type of Material: Virtual Exhibit; Interactive Presentation
Technical Requirements: Flash 4 player and Quick Time Movies required.
Identify Major Learning Goals: The goal of "The Vikings. The North Atlantic Saga" is to dispel myths about the Vikings and remove a common perception of Vikings as barbarian despoilers. Course specific goals include:
1. To demonstrate cultural competencies with respect to the Norse culture.
2. To identify geographic patterns of settlement and exploration of the Vikings as well as methods of exploration.
3. To discuss the role of archeological artifacts in historical interpretation.
4. To identify vocabulary associated with archeological science, geographical location, historical figures, and events highlighted in the module.
Target Student Population: Junior High School, Senior High School, College
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Some knowledge about pre-Columbia explorers from Europe is helpful but not essential. Students should have basic computer skills and know how to use a mouse, familiarity with using a browser to navigate a websiste, and the ability to read a map and glean simple information from it.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: The exhibit items are from the collections of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Primary sources are archeological replicas and/or artifacts. Each exhibit item is discussed within its historical context. The site is well designed and the map of Viking voyages is easy to navigate. Learning materials are provided to supplement the site visit and provide a framework for developing lesson plans based on the materials provided.
Concerns: None.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: The site provides: family guide, teacher guide, bibliography, web links, vocabulary, a board game, map, and runes (language). There is sufficient flexibility for the site to be used from junior high to college survey courses. Site materials encourage the development of critical thinking skills and illustrate how an archaeologist uses primary sources. The website provides a comprehensive overview of Viking history and exploration.

The archaeological images from the museum exhibit are a wonderful source of discussion. The interactive maps used for illustrating the period of Viking exploration are well composed and are an effective teaching tool to acquaint students with the important role northern Europe played in western exploration.
Concerns: The module needs more clearly defined learning objectives and lesson plans posted within the Teacher's Guide. More items from the exhibit should be included in the web site.

This site should be used with other websites on the exploration of the Western Hemisphere and/or in conjunction with websites dealing with pre-Columbian civilizations in the western hemisphere. This site is an excellent tool to explain the importance of archaeology to history.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: The site is well designed and easy to navigate. Graphics are easily downloaded; some of the multimedia features require browser plug-ins and additional time for download (e.g. QuickTime Movies). Excellent graphics depicting the virtual gallery of the Viking Exhibit at the museum. Updates maintained by Arctic Studies Center for the Nation and the Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian). Research updates by the Arctic Studies Group.
Concerns: None.

Creative Commons:
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States