Join me for WizIQ’s first Wednesday Webinar!


Catchy, right? WizIQ Wednesday Webinars…you know, WWW, like the World Wide Web, only different…

OK, well, even if you’re not as impressed with my cleverness as I am, this first webcast is worth attending. Titled “Save time & money with WizIQ for training and professional development”, it’s a bit of a departure from the video content I usually share from review:ed. We’re going to be talking specifically about WizIQ and its role in training and professional development; although we’ll be recording the webinar so you can watch it if you happen to miss the live show, I’m hoping that there will be some great opportunities for live discussion and interaction around this incredibly important use case for our virtual classroom.

The webcast is public and doesn’t require a signup…just follow this link on Wednesday, enter a screen name, and join in. As I described in the class writeup,

Sometimes training and professional development just has to happen in person. Group work, intensive immersion in a task or project, or training over several days often just works best when you are locked in a room with trainers and colleagues. Most times, though, the expense and disruption of this sort of training just isn’t justified. Instead, using a web-based virtual classroom like WizIQ can allow training to be efficient, effective, and, most importantly, cost-effective.

An added bonus? Trainers can potentially reach more students at once, increasing revenue and reducing overhead. WizIQ also allows the recording of training sessions and content, making review and asynchronous reuse possible.

Sound interesting? If you’re in the business of corporate training, deliver professional development to teachers, or have sat through interminable training sessions that take you away from your job, this webinar is worth attending. It’s 2012, after all, folks, and fuel prices are high, budgets are short, and time is more precious than ever. Both synchronous and asynchronous training delivered over the Internet will trump in-person training nine times out of ten, whether you’re the trainer or the trainee.

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Learn Digital History Blog

Teaching about Historical Reconstructions using the Vail Telegraph Key


The reconstruction of historical inventions can provide a powerful context for students to explore how inventions affect society. In fact, the social impact of the invention of the telegraph ripples through to today. It set the stage for the invention of other communications technologies such as radio, television, and the Internet. The ability to send messages across wires in a fraction of the time humans were accustomed had a profound impact on society. Rossiter Johnson captured the spirit of that change in an 1882 poem written in tribute Morse and the telegraph. The poem describes limits of humans imposed by nature, but imagines that with the invention of the telegraph those limitations begin to fade away.

But one morning he made him a slender wire,
  As an artist’s vision took life and form,
While he drew from heaven the strange fierce fire
  That reddens the edge of the midnight storm;
And he carried it over the Mountain’s crest,
And dropped it into the Ocean’s breast;
And Science proclaimed, from shore to shore,
That Time and Space ruled man no more.

Students often have myopic views about how technologies impact their own lives. While it is true that students today seem to live in a constant state of ‘revolution’ regarding new technologies, an understanding of history can temper our enthusiasms. By studying records and relics from the past, such as Johnson’s poem, students can build up a long view of technological innovation and understand how the telegraph fits in that history.

Students can also use these experiences to explore important historical skills related to cause and effect. A reconstruction of the Vail telegraph key provides students with an opportunity to examine the development of scientific knowledge and challenge the narrowly constructed textbook history of the telegraph.

The history of the telegraph is typically transmitted to students as a neat and tidy story about Samuel Morse and the 1844 transmission from Baltimore to Washington DC of the message “What hath God wrought?” But, history is never so simple. Behind the story of Morse is the complex history of the invention of the telegraph, and that story is impossible to tell with Alfred Vail.

A social studies activity exploring this complicated history might begin with the simple question – Who was on the other end of the message sent by Samuel Morse on May 24, 1844? Of course, it was Alfred Vail. From there, students might explore Vail’s 1845 book length survey of the history of the telegraph, The American Electro Magnetic Telegraph: With the Reports of Congress, and a Description of all Telegraphs Known, Employing Electricity or Galvanism.  The book, which has three parts, includes a detailed description of the telegraph system developed by Vail and Morse; letters, reports, and other correspondences about the development of the telegraph system; and a contemporary history of the telegraph. Students can analyze this source to develop questions for inquiry about the development of the telegraph in the 1830s and 1840s.


From Hathi trust and Harvard Library at http://hdl.handle.net/2027/hvd.hw1wl0


The Lincoln Telegram project provides another avenue for exploring the newly invented telegraph and, specifically, how it affected the course of the Civil War and its participants.

The Lincoln Telegrams Project


The Lincoln Telegrams project (http://lincolntelegrams.com) includes digital versions and transcriptions of 354 telegram memos written by Lincoln from March 10, 1864 to his death in April of 1865.  The telegram memos function as source material for helping students and teachers understand how to analyze historical sources using the Hicks, Doolittle, and Ewing’s SCIM-C method (http://historicalinquiry.com). Direct access to the telegrams, either via the web or through an iPad app with the same content, allows students to explore the historical context and follow the ways in which the telegraph affected communications during that era.

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