The Age of Exploration is a tutorial that teaches students about famous explorers, their ships, voyages, and methods of navigation. Around these key figures and topics, the website gives contextual information about exploration, map-making, and travel writing from the beginning of civilization. An online curriculum guide explains the development of maritime technologies and the principal voyages from ancient times to Captain Cook's 1768 voyage to the South Pacific. Though attention is given to some early non-Western accomplishments, the main focus is on European voyages from the Viking era through the 18th century. The site includes a list of activities for teachers and students to supplement the explanatory texts.
Type of Material:
It can be most effectively used for student research assignments. In particular, it may be most useful for assignments that prompt students to use secondary sources or construct a timeline of exploration.
Internet Explorer - Best used at Explorer 7 or above.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
The major goal is for students to locate information around key explorers from history, and situate these within a larger context of nautical navigation and the mapping of the modern world. Students learn to piece together information on related topics and through activities reflect on the centrality of exploration to world history.
Target Student Population:
Primarily junior and senior high school students.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Basic computer skills.
An overview of the subject before use of the module.
It presents an encyclopedic knowledge of exploration and original artifacts in an engaging way. Individual entries on key words and historical figures are concise enough to be easily digestible, but exhaustive enough to work as the basis for students’ research assignments. Entries are written in a formal yet engaging prose, and are consistently complemented with relevant illustrations: photographs, portraits, and maps.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
Through this tutorial students can in a short time master both knowledge of specific historical figures and key words, as well as a wider understanding of exploration across time. It directs students to authoritative (background) information and primary sources, and instills a gradual awareness of the centrality of exploration to world history.
The home page gives little instructions, or any overview of what the main purpose and use of the website might be. Instructors wishing to use it in the classroom may find themselves having to spend a lot of time determining their own preferred use of the website.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The website layout is clear and appealing, and the pages are easy to navigate. The activities are engaging in the sense that they do not merely test factual knowledge, but also instill a sense of the lasting cultural changes that were caused by exploration and continue to matter to this day. Furthermore, as the website is logically structured and provides easy links back and forth, it allows students to explore different topics in an unrestrained way. Highlighted in-text links usefully lead to the glossary to understand definitions and context.
Only the activities page offers any interactive components, and these are rather separate from the main body of the website.
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