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Peer Review

Death of a Diplomat: Herbert Norman & the Cold War

by Larry Hannant


Overall Numeric Rating:

4.25 stars
Content Quality: 4.75 stars
Effectiveness: 4.25 stars
Ease of Use: 4.25 starsstar
Reviewed: Mar 31, 2014 by History Editorial Board
Overview: This case study is part of the “Great Unsolved Mysteries of Canadian History” site. The exercise explores the mysterious suicide of Canadian diplomat Herbert Norman within the backdrop of the Cold War. Was Mr. Norman a communist spy or a loyal ambassador? Students are able to examine numerous primary sources and other relevant documents to draw their own conclusions -- while learning about the Cold War era through the investigation of an unsolved and suspicious death of a foreign diplomat. The site includes support for teachers including exploration sheets and key concept information.
Type of Material: Case Study
Recommended Uses: Case Study Historical Research
Technical Requirements: Web capability and flash
Identify Major Learning Goals: To teach critical thinking skills and use of primary sources. To teach interpretative analysis of historic events. To acquaint students with lesser known examples of Canadian history, which have national implications and could be used in United States History courses as well.
Target Student Population: Middle School, High School, College, General Ed.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Web capability

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: • Ample source material • Excellent concept
Concerns: • Teaching support does not include lesson plans and specific support for topic. • Material is, perhaps, too open ended for use in many classrooms • How to use the site is not entirely clear – educators would need to allow adequate time to prepare detailed lessons and instructions for use.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.25 stars
Strengths: Site is easy to navigate. Flash requirements are easy to meet and there are excellent recreations, photographs, and maps. Primary source documents are visually presented.
Concerns: • Site does not clearly demonstrate prerequisite knowledge. • Material does not reinforce concepts progressively. • Despite excellent primary source material, site supports outside lecture but does not replace the need for additional lecture.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.25 stars
Strengths: • Site is easy to access • Tabs are clearly identified • Material is easy to read
Concerns: • Site is not especially appealing • Site is mostly text • Design quality is flat and does not lead easily from one topic to another

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