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PrimaryAccess: Creating Digital Documentaries in the Social Studies Classroom

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Social Education Volume 70, Number 3, ISSN 0037-7724


The authors have been working with teachers who are drawing upon various online resources to construct digital documentaries that explore some facet of history, such as Japanese American internment or the liberation of Western Europe during World War II. These activities build on students' interest in digital media, recognizing a fundamental shift in the way that students interact with technology and media. Instead of being passive recipients of media, they are engaged in creating their own digital media. Digital documentaries offer students an engaging activity that incorporates primary source materials and celebrates the students' status as digital natives. Students who effectively use primary source documents develop enhanced historical thinking skills, and ready access to primary source documents offers social studies teachers a multitude of enhanced teaching methods. This article describes a web-based tool set developed by the authors specifically designed for classroom use called PrimaryAccess, which allows students and teachers to work from any computer with an internet connection without installation of special software. PrimaryAccess offers a comprehensive environment designed expressly for the creation of digital documentaries, from access to primary sources to the final presentation of finished digital movies. The article presents a list of good sources of primary documents and digital historical documentaries. (Contains 2 figures.)


Ferster, B., Hammond, T. & Bull, G. (2006). PrimaryAccess: Creating Digital Documentaries in the Social Studies Classroom. Social Education, 70(3), 147-150. Retrieved August 25, 2019 from .

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