After a short break for a class that didn’t require blogging (which, by the way, statistics and I are decidedly NOT friends), here’s another round of “Erica blogging about school!”

My course this module is “Digitally Mediated Teaching and Learning.” “But Erica,” you’re probably asking, “what does that mean?” The answer? I….haven’t the foggiest idea as yet. Mostly so far we’ve been talking about our online identity and setting up our PLE. That makes it fun for me because half of my work was already done! Because I started here with a graduate certificate in online teaching, I had to set up my PLE last year and use it for the classes I’ve taken thus far. Apparently, they’ve changed the recommended order in which M.Ed. students take their classes. I took mine in chronological order, but now they’ve adjusted that so that 520 is the second class M.Ed. students take.

This is my eighth. So that’s making life interesting. You know what else is making my life interesting? That my poor professor has to deal with me texting her at 8 PM on a Saturday night freaking out about an assignment.

Yep. That happened.


Anyway. It never occurred to me to be concerned about my digital citizenship–which is just a fancy way of saying “follow Wheaton’s Law.”

The historical explanation of Wheaton’s Law.

Digital citizenship can be defined as the “norms of responsible, appropriate internet use” (Ribble, 2016, para. 1). There are nine elements to this, including digital access (can you get to it?), digital commerce (do you know how to keep your information safe when shopping online?), digital etiquette (see Wheaton’s Law above), and digital literacy (do you know how to use it?), to name a few (Ribble, 2016). There are so many resources out there regarding how to teach digital citizenship to elementary students–which we absolutely should do, because then maybe we’ll see fewer stories about cyberbullying and just general Internet meanness. But I digress.

Part of digital citizenship is how we’re perceived online, or our online identity. Part of my work for the past couple of weeks was to, essentially, research two prominent people in my field and study their online identity. How do the put themselves out there? I could’ve used prominent educators–in fact, my professor gave our class a bunch of names of people that we should know about anyway. But, at the end of the day, I’m a historian. Yes, I’m an educator, but I’m a historian at my core. So I went to find a couple of awesome historians.

By the way, if you’re unfamiliar with the musical Hamilton, be prepared to be educated, son.

One of the historians I chose for my project was Joanne Freeman. Some of you might have seen her in random documentaries on the History Channel or PBS. Maybe you’ve checked out Yale’s Open Courses, in which she teaches an entire course on the American Revolution. She wrote a book on duels a bunch of years back that really got into the nitty-gritty of the duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, and she’s worked with the National Park Service on the reconstruction of the Hamilton Grange National Memorial. She also was privileged enough to record a plenary session with Hamilton creator and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda. I’m excited for this because that plenary session was for the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, or SHEAR, conference next weekend–which I’m attending. But I digress.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m an early American historian. I could sit and talk about the Founding Fathers for DAYS. And I love me some musical theater, so putting together a Founding Father and a musical? I’m hooked.

…my husband just called me a hipster, because I was into the American Revolution before it was cool. Huh.

Anyway, Dr. Freeman is so prolific on Twitter it’s ridiculous. AND Lin-Manuel Miranda follows her on Twitter…probably because, aside from Ron Chernow (who wrote the book the musical is based on), she’s THE Hamiltonian historian. Being able to study her work, and knowing just the kind of role model she is, is really inspiring as a woman historian. American revolutionary history is coming into a sort of renaissance because of Hamilton, which is interesting, considering that when I went to another annual meeting of historians, I was informed that the scholarship is moving away from the political aspect of the Revolution and more into the social aspect of it…and yet, you can’t talk about Hamilton without talking about his politics.

You may have noticed none of these men are white, even though, historically, they all were. Welcome to the world of Hamilton: The Musical.

“But Erica,” I’m sure you’re asking at this point, “what does this have to do with online identity?” Maybe it doesn’t, in a direct way, but indirectly, Dr. Freeman shows us how to take history and make it relevant to the next generation of students. And it’s not just Hamilton–it’s history in general. She does such an amazing job of taking random historical…stuff, tweeting about it and starting conversations that may not have happened otherwise. There was a tweet…somewhere…on her page (forgive me, as I can’t remember when it was, and she’s so prolific that I’d have to go searching)–she brought an original revolutionary pamphlet to Lin-Manuel to read, and he tweeted a picture of it. Someone responded back to that picture with a comment about how she’s inspiring a new generation of historians. Given our current policial climate, that’s absolutely necessary.

Look, I don’t talk politics as a general rule, for three reasons. One, my mother always taught me that there were three things you don’t discuss in mixed company–politics, money, and religion–and the Internet is, most definitely, mixed company. Two, my mother and I have fundamentally different opinions on the political landscape of America, and I’m not stupid enough to engage in a political argument with my mother. Three, generally speaking, most people who talk about politics have no comprehension of how this country was set up, how it was founded, or why it was founded the way it was. I can count on one hand the number of friends I have who can tell me what the three branches of government are, much less what’s in the Constitution (and, more importantly, what ISN’T in the Constitution). History is, at its core, a study of what not to do, and when we don’t study it or pay attention to it, we do so at our peril. We need to educate the next generation in the history of our country, in the founding of it. We can’t understand where we’re going, or why this year’s election is so scary, if we don’t know where we come from.

But we can’t educate the next generation of students if we aren’t setting ourselves up as solid role models for them, if we aren’t putting forth a solid online identity for them to listen to and follow and learn from. And I firmly believe that identity needs to be digital. The next generation of students is going to be solidly online (she says as her daughter moves from one digital device to the other constantly), which means they might not be listening to us anymore if we’re not online–if we’re not relevant. And that’s where Hamilton comes into play.

In bringing Hamilton to the stage, Lin-Manuel Miranda brought this Founding Father to life. He has caught the attention of the students who will make up the next generation of historians. He’s made the American Revolution and the building of the Constitution relevant again. And to be able to connect to those students–to that generation–is something that all historians should aspire to do. Because these students are going to be the ones writing our history in the future. They should at least know where we came from.

Lin Manuel Miranda Lin_Manuel Twitter






Miranda, L. [lin_manuel]. (2016, July 9). An FB status update from 5 years ago today. [Tweet]. Retrieved from:

Ribble, M. (2016). Digital Citizenship. Retrieved from:

Ribble, M. (2016). Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship. Digital Citizenship. Retrieved from:

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