EDU 520 Blog Post #4, or “Group projects are the devil!”

And if you get the reference in the above quote, you are my new favorite person, cause that movie was HORRIBLE.


Kathy Bates, tho.

I’m such a perfectionist, y’all, that I hate being beholden to anyone for a grade. I’ve never liked group work. In fact, when discussing with my department head what types of assessments we wanted to set up for our brand-spanky-new Honors course in the fall, I adamantly opposed any kind of group work, even though group work is part of the honors program. “If these kids are anything like me,” I told her, “then they won’t like their grade being in someone else’s hands.” So no group work for those kids. And a lot of times, the reason for that is because there’s no differentiation between the roles–there’s nobody who specializes in one thing over another, which is typical in the real world group project scenario. One person specializes in this section, another specializes in that section. Each person in a group has a valuable job–in the real world. In the classroom? Everyone’s on the same page.


Which made the group project for 520 a bit unique. Each person in the group had a unique function (though, in our case, we all did everything because one person was on vacation for a week, and then I ran a Tough Mudder another weekend, and another member was away for a chunk of time–so our group isn’t really…a good indicator of group work. That and we’re all perfectionists, but I digress), so each person contributed something different to the final product.

THAT is what good group work is all about–splitting the work evenly between people who are specifically suited to the job. If we could turn classroom group work into a more realistic scenario that translates into actual real world experience, then maybe I wouldn’t hate it so much.

….no. I really, REALLY hate having to depend on anyone else for my grades.


Anyway. If y’all are interested, you can find my group’s final Wiki page project here:

EDU520 SU16B Group E

EDU 520 Blog Post #3, or “Digital history and why it’s important”

It’s that time again y’all! So I spend a lot of time in this blog talking about what I’ve learned in my class and connecting it to what I do as a historian and as a teacher. This week was an awful lot of video presentations, and how to make things pretty and engaging with Powerpoint. First thing–I finally learned how to record my slides in Powerpoint and turn it into a video! You’ll see that below in a minute. What I really wanted to do for my video blog this week was film myself talking to y’all. But…well…I have anxiety about screwing it up, so I didn’t. Instead, you get a Powerpoint recorded by moi talking about digital history–namely, how we utilize various multimedia in a historical setting.

I realized as I sat waiting for my Powerpoint to turn into a movie that it’s possible that one of the pieces of media I included in a slide wouldn’t work within the movie itself so that video is below.

Here’s the list of the examples I was telling you guys about. I highly recommend Liz Covart’s podcast. Also? She’s pretty prominent on Twitter–@lizcovart. Y’all should check her out.

National Archives:

Library of Congress American Memory Project:

Ben Franklin’s World podcast:

-Doing History: A Podcast Series about How Historians Work:


EDU520 Blog Post #2, or “Privacy? Who needs that?”

If you’re actually wondering what the answer to the question is within my blog’s title for this week, then get out. No, really, #byefelicia. Privacy as a whole is such a HUGE issue across the board–not just digitally, though that’s mostly what I’m writing about this week (don’t even get me started on the political necessities of privacy–we’d be here for DAYS).

For those of you that are still here, you obviously know (or should, anyway) that we ALL need privacy, to a certain extent. We all have thoughts and feelings that, likely, are not fit for public consumption. “But Erica,” you might be saying right now, “of course the people want to know everything I think and say and have for breakfast. After all, that’s what social media is for!”


No, it is not. We, as a society, share FAAAARR too much on social media. Nobody can hold any secrets anymore. Nobody can keep their own thoughts and opinions to themselves. We have become a culture of oversharing, and I am just as guilty of doing so as everybody else is.

My mother always taught me not to discuss three things in mixed company–religion, money, and politics. Funny how Facebook, for example, is the very definition of “mixed company” and yet we have no problems spouting our opinions on Clinton versus Sanders, or Trump, or how God has touched our lives (or not). We have no problem whining about how we don’t make enough money, even when we friend our bosses on Facebook and they can see the worst sides of us.

How the hell did we get here? I took an online quiz put on by the ACLU (the link is in the caption of the screenshot)–do you know what it told me? Here’s a screenshot of my result:

Your Digital Privacy  An ACLU Quiz

Holy crap, more recognizable than Jackie O (if you don’t know who that is, go read a history book or something). Nobody knows who I am. That’s ridiculous…..and yet. And yet my Facebook links to just about everything, and what my Facebook doesn’t link to, my Google does. There was this big hullabaloo about Pokemon GO recently–I’m sure you heard about it unless you’ve been living under a rock for ages. My friend Marcus plays Pokemon GO all the time. There’s even a photo gallery on Facebook called “Pokemon with Marcus” and it’s just pictures of Pokemon that spawn near him during the day. “But Erica,” I’m sure you’re asking now, “what’s the big deal about Pokemon GO? Everybody likes that game.” You’re right, reader–everybody does like that game. Including Apple, who until recently had full access to your Google account through the iOS app (they’ve since released a patch). What does “full access” mean? “That means it could have potentially been able to ‘see and modify nearly all information in your Google Account,’ according to Google, short of changing your password or tapping into Google Wallet” (Barrett, 2016, para. 1). I don’t know about you, but that’s scary. Take a look at Facebook’s privacy policy one of these days, and see if that doesn’t scare you too.

If I wasn’t on a watch list before, I certainly am now!

We share SO MUCH INFORMATION. And we have no control over any of it. We have this illusion of privacy, as though we think what we say “in private” on Facebook won’t get around. Ha. The best explanation of why this is wrong comes from Victor Dorff(2016) in an article for the Huffington Post: “Like a teenager who is horrified to learn that the little lock on her diary was insufficient to protect her secrets from a prying sibling, Americans have been surprised over and over again to learn that nothing they say or do is necessarily a sacred secret” (para. 7).

So why do we do it? I can’t answer that question. It only seems to bring strife, for the most part. Story time: my mother and I got into it last week over–what else–disparate political views. We can’t seem to agree to disagree there, and when we were talking (read: arguing), she mentioned that she wasn’t allowed to post what she really thought about certain things because she’d get in trouble or judged. I argued back that she was allowed to, certainly; she just chose not to. And therein lies the fundamental difference between my mother and me–I choose to enter the fray. I choose to vocalize my opinions and beliefs. I choose to share the fun parts of my day on Facebook, just as I choose to share when I’m irritated about something. I am an open book, as I’ve often said, and sometimes that book comes with certain strong political views because something something FIRST AMENDMENT ‘MURICA YEAH!!!

But in all seriousness, digital privacy is starting to become less of a personal issue and more of a political one. I’m sure you all know about the iPhone belonging to the San Bernardino shooter that the FBI couldn’t get into. They wanted Apple to build a code for a back door–one that could then ostensibly be used any time the FBI needed information that they couldn’t get otherwise. There are significant privacy concerns there, according to Apple, and I can’t say I blame them. If they wrote a code to get into THIS iPhone, what’s to stop the FBI from getting into any iPhone they chose, regardless of whether someone committed a crime or not? And what’s worse is that less than 37% of Republicans at the time sided with Apple (Waddell, 2016). What possible reasons could the Republicans have had for not supporting Apple and the right to privacy? I don’t know, personally, but at a guess, I think it keeps us scared. So long as we’re scared, we’re malleable. When we’re scared, we give away rights left, right, and center. While I will own that the following quote is taken somewhat out of context, as Benjamin Franklin was discussing a tax dispute between the Penn family and the Pennsylvania General Assembly in the 1755, this one always comes to mind:


Not for nothing, but if a Founding Father saw that giving up rights for safety was stupid, why can’t we?

So yes, I might be presenting myself (at least on Facebook) in a manner unbecoming of an academic, but my answer to that criticism is as follows: First, my Facebook is my own personal soapbox. I am allowed to say and behave in a certain manner because, at the end of the day, my Facebook is where I am most comfortable. It’s where I can have debates with family and friends over various topics, and where we can share information and knowledge. If anybody doesn’t like that I utilize my Facebook in this way, then my only response is to not let the door hit you on the way out. Second, I have certain social media platforms that I use in specific ways. Twitter, for example, is my academic side. I very rarely post anything personal on there (anymore–I will own that; I’m transforming my Twitter), and I’m utilizing it as more of a place where I go as a historian and as an educator to share ideas and to pass on the passion for history that I have. I use Twitter as a teaching platform. I use Facebook as a personal one. I see no reason why this should change, regardless of anyone’s opinions of my opinions. They’re mine, and I have the right to speak them, just as someone else has a right to speak theirs.  In the same vein, people have the right to be offended or angry at my opinions. Therein lies the strength (or weakness, depending on who you talk to) of the First Amendment. So my personal Digital Citizenship statement? I have a First Amendment right to say what I think, but others have a right to not like it, which means I need to be careful of what I say, where I say it, and how I say it.

Hell, maybe my mother has it right. Maybe it’s best to just keep my mouth shut. As Aaron Burr said in that great musical of our time (Hamilton, in case you missed the last blog post), “ev’ry proclamation guarantees free ammunition for your enemies.” Maybe it is best to “talk less, smile more.”



Barrett, B. (2016). Update your Pokemon Go app now to fix that privacy mess. Wired. Retrieved from:

Dorff, V. (2016). Privacy: a failed experiment. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from:

Franklin, B. (1755). Pennsylvania Assembly: Reply to the Governor. Votes and Proceedings of the House of Representatives, 1755-1756 (Philadelphia, 1756), pp. 19-21. Retrieved from:

Waddell, K. (2016). Is digital privacy becoming a partisan issue? The Atlantic. Retrieved from:

EDU 520 Blog Post #1, or “Why haven’t I learned not to write blog posts when I’m tired and rambly??”

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: