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Treks and Primary Sources

By now Internet users know that this new technology affords some pretty amazing treks during which students can accompany or visit explorers to remote places. The Bosnia site can be billed as a virtual field trip rather than primary sources. The developers declare in very strong language that it is too dangerous for real travelers so a virtual trip (complete with maps, timelines, biographies of major players, eyewitness accounts by both adults and teens, and excellent external links) is the only safe and updated means by which students can learn about this region's conflicts. In this new age, then, this site may evolve into a new approach to primary sources. It has received, by the way, national recognition for its excellent design and thorough explanation.

Because computers can track and remember different points of view and alternative decisions so much more easily than people, we find this feature more frequently on the Web than we would in hard copy. For example, in conjunction with its special television programs PBS and General Motors have mounted a Web site, devoted to the expeditions of Lewis and Clark. Students can begin one of the expeditions but, in this simulated version, can make different decisions than Lewis and Clark and trace the consequences. At another Web site videoconferencing with a Merriweather Clark re-enactor and tie-ins with NASA's latest explorations enhance the learning. offers a reconstruction of the Tabula Peutingeriana, a medieval copy of a Roman roadmap from about the year 300 CE. You can get a real feel for the length of journeys during that period and scale of the Roman road network. All roads did lead to Rome.

And, just a reminder, CD's, such as the Invasion of Normandy by the Encyclopedia Britannica, may be more cost-effective for some complex historical events than Internet viewing.

Local history is another example of the assistance of the Web as a powerful tool. For instance, while a bit of an ad for Adobe, Feel The History showcases a view of an historically famous flood. US monuments and Memorials will also enliven your studies. The Center for Teaching History with Technology illustrates the creative use of virtual tours.

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Should historical treks online which occur in REAL-TIME (even when simulating the past) be considered primary sources?

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