Tag Archives: social media

Greetings from Gettysburg

Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 8.40.38 PM Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 8.40.52 PM Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 8.42.39 PMToday I am featuring these cool vintage postcards depicting some Gettysburg battlefield tourist hot-spots. And…to let you know, if you do not already, that I have put together what I think is a pretty chill web-course on the battle. I designed it especially for high school APUSH and college students who want to know the battle and the historical context in which it unfolded. I also think it is great for anyone with an interest (buffs…I love buffs) in Civil War history or for those planning a trip to the national battlefield park. It will certainly get you in the Gettysburg mood. You can access the course HERE.

And this is what the reviewers think:

Succinct but detailed presentation by an instructor with an engaging style. Nice visuals. Very good production values.

And…

Super concise and thorough. Love how he makes learning history fun 🙂

And another…

Professor Harris delivered an engaging and interesting way of approaching history. Rather than lecture and expect his students to accept his words at face value, Professor Harris challenges the student to engage the material and question long standing beliefs held by many. His integration of social media as a way of communicating ideas and engaging the material is superb. As he lectured, Professor Harris would periodically pop up in a side window to ask thought provoking questions, or to emphasize a point he had just made. Suffice to say, Professor Harris had no trouble making history come alive.

And there are more courses in production right now. I am nearing completion of a comprehensive course on the Reconstruction Era, and naturally, there is a Civil War course under development too.

So enjoy and please let me know what you think!

With compliments,

Keith

American History Untucked

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 9.05.45 PMGreetings all!

A few days ago I had the great honor of recording a podcast segment for Professor David Silkenat’s American History Untucked. Dr. Silkenat is a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh and has been hosting this podcast for some time now.

We had a grand discussion about blogging, editing, academia, and some of my research projects. You can listen to my spot and those of many of my esteemed colleagues HERE.

With compliments,

Keith

A Few Words about D. W. Griffith

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 11.11.01 AMWas D. W. Griffith a visionary? Some might say so. In addition to being an artist, he fancied himself something of a historian – or at the very least a provider of history by particular means. The means, of course, was the relatively new medium: the motion picture. Especially after the smashing success of The Birth of a Nation, Griffith liked to think of film as more than entertainment, but as a conveyor of historical truth (as he saw it…more on this later).

Recognizing the significance of film-as-teacher and the profound potential to reach millions of people worldwide, Griffith predicted that one day, in the not too distant future, if someone wanted to learn about a particular historical event, one could simply visit some sort of repository and select a film on that subject. One could then watch at their leisure and absorb the information visually – as many times as they liked. Sound familiar? Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 11.19.44 AM

With compliments,

Keith

How Not to Use Twitter

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 7.49.33 PMOr rather…how to use Twitter poorly. This post will initiate a series discussing the things one should and should not do when using Twitter…or if you like, Social Media etiquette. I am specifically addressing people involved with historical inquiry and education – teachers, students, scholars, and everyone else. But this can just as easily apply to anyone.

I am on Twitter constantly. My students think it is funny that the old guy has a Twitter account, but I assure them that I am not interested in the Kardashians or any of the other Internet sensations out there, but rather the pursuit of knowledge and – here it is folks….INTERACTION with others who are doing the same thing.

Interaction means real conversation with real people. Note the message on the left I received from a radio host who does a show on the Constitution. I initially followed him to perhaps get a little insight on this foundational document – maybe engage in some conversation. But then I received his stupid, impersonal, meaningless automated message.

I’ll admit my response was a little snarky (I’m the king of snark). But honestly…an automated message? This is my Twitter pet peeve. I have such an unfavorable reaction to these because they serve to undermine the very best application of the platform. Here is what an automated message says: “Hi, thanks for following me. I am far too important to personally introduce myself to a peon like you (did you notice, I have 57k followers!) – but I would still like you to follow my other shit – and buy stuff too.”

No thanks.

Now normally I would publicly call this person out. But seeing that the message was intended to be private (fake or not), I respect that person’s privacy and thus blacked out their handle and website. But none of that really matters. The image simply serves as an example of what NOT to do. A very good example…I might add. Full disclosure: I used to employ one of these automated systems until I realized how obnoxious they were.  Friends, if you want to reach out to a new follower then send them a personal message. Sheesh. If you don’t, you just look like a bot. And NOBODY likes a bot.

With compliments,

Keith

Do Americans lack a historical consciousness?

Screen shot 2014-02-24 at 10.21.46 AMWell, I am starting to think so anyway – at least some of them do. Lately, I have been going full throttle with reading, writing, and discussing American history. Why not right? I went to college for a million years, why not do what I was trained to do?

At any rate, I am especially interested in engaging the public – to find out what they know…what they want to know…what they think about US history.

Twitter has been absolutely wonderful for this. Real time conversations with real people! Imagine that!! Who knew just a few short years ago that this would be how we interact?

But here’s what I have discovered – people say the darndest things. Oh sure I have had some great conversations with some very knowledgeable folks. But I have also run across a sort of alarming theme. Many Americans have no sense of their own history.

Case in point: I recently stumbled upon an Obama critic who claimed that the president was the “most divisive POTUS in American history.”

REALLY??? Say what you will about El Presidente but let’s see, I can think of at least one time in our history when things got just a tad stickier. You know…when Abraham Lincoln was elected, eleven states seceded from the Union, war broke out, and roughly 820,000 people died. I would say that the political climate of the mid-nineteenth century was just a hair more fractious than things today. But I tell you what – if more people knew about the issues that unfolded during the Civil War era, they would certainly better understand the divisions of today – whether they be racial, sectional, political, whatever.

The Civil War Trust suggests that the war is the “central event in America’s historical consciousness.” Now, I love the CWT but I think they have missed the mark – at least for those Americans whose historical consciousness extends only as far back as their own lifetime.

Well anyway – I called the Twitter guy out and he just got all angry and defensive. Whatever – choose your battles, right?

So – that’s my observation for this morning…Off I go to engage the public. The good news? I would be willing to wager that most of my readers are on the stick when it comes to historical consciousness. Maybe all is not lost. Huzzah!

Peace,

Keith

PS – if you happen to read this and think I am full of crap – let me know! I welcome all comments and criticism. I know….tell me on Twitter