*This was blog post was originally posted on the Center for History and New Media’s blog as part of my Digital History Fellowship at George Mason University. How can technology help teachers to teach historical and critical thinking? Getting students to think critically about historical events rather than just memorizing the facts is challenging, but digital technology can help. With so many new digital tools being developed each year, teachers are eager for resources to help locate free, quality tools that can help students become better critical thinkers and historians.

The Preserving our Digital Heritage: Plan for the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program stated that the average length of a website is 44 days. That really surprised me. I think the preservation of born digital material is an important issue right now, and it’s only going to get more important as our world increasingly becomes more digital. It is really an overwhelming issue with so many hurdles and potential issues.

I came across a project of Berry College and Bloomsberg University this week called the Martha Berry Digital Archive. The site is built on Omeka and a plugin the developers created for the site called «Crowd-Ed». The plugin allows the digitization of their entire collection to be crowdsourced. In other words, the archive digitizes the documents and users annotate, tag, and fill in the metadata for each item. Crowdsourcing has been gaining popularity recently and has become a way for archives to digitize mass amounts of data fairly quickly and at a minimal cost.

Yesterday I attended WordCamp Baltimore, a WordPress developers conference. Aaron Jorbin, a well-known WordPress developer in the D.C. area, gave the keynote address which was about open source platforms and the open source community. If you aren’t familiar with the «.org» version of WordPress, it is open source and free to anyone who wants to use, modify, or develop the software. Jorbin’s keynote was entitled «Citizenship in the Open Source World» and he talked a lot about the responsibilities and the rights of a citizen in the «Open Source World.

Web Design is not something academic are traditionally trained in. However, as the discipline continues to change and Digital History continues to develop and grow, knowing a little bit about what constitutes a good historical website is necessary. Alexander Dawson makes excellent points about the development and organization of a website in his article «Improve Usability by Studying Museums.»  He compares the layout of a museum to that of a website and argues that many web designers could take some tips from the organization of museums.