May 19-25, 2000
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Sullivan Award winners show deep commitment to caring
Here's the youngest 'Hoo
Wagner exemplifies value of mentoring

Rector unearths love for human evolution

Dyslexia forced graduate to create own path for success
Boiler passes a special test
Already a pioneering online journalist, graduate plans to take on TV reporting
Student's mentoring program takes root
Medical student with passion for public health earns second master's degree
Groundskeeper has watched U.Va. and its landscape grow
Help wanted: not just for high-tech fields, but for teaching jobs, too
BUCKS' vision to give back to community will continue
Watson discovers teaching and takes history to the Web
Seeing double
Heard's degree painted with broad strokes
May graduate's dream shows how education transforms lives
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Kenneth Watson
Stephanie Gross
Kenneth Watson

Watson discovers teaching and takes history to the Web

By Jill Johnson

In 1992, Kenneth Watson, a Georgetown law graduate, left his job at a Washington consulting firm. Looking for something new, he decided to try his hand as a substitute teacher.

Watson came to love teaching, and spent three years instructing Advanced Placement seniors in government at Albemarle High School before deciding to pursue a doctorate from the Curry School of Education, which he receives this week.

"I am certain that teachers, like doctors, parents and preachers, have the most profound effect on the world today," Watson said. "Once you touch one student, you never see the end of that ripple effect."

Thousands of students around the country may already have benefited from one of his ideas, an innovative online teaching device at Discovery.com.

For his dissertation, Watson constructed "Infotectives Online," an Internet teaching mechanism designed to engage middle- and high-school students in learning history. In 1999, it won first place in Ed's Oasis MasterSearch, a contest for Web-based lesson plans, and later sparked the interest of a Discovery Channel producer, who asked Watson to create a version of his project for Discovery.com.

His program (found at http://school. discovery.com/lessonplans/activities/surfing/index.html) has been used in classrooms nationwide to teach students about how 20th-century technology has affected people's lives.

Watson's aim was to develop a program that would take students through a discovery process. "I wanted to develop some kind of framework so students can learn online," he said. "I wanted them to be information detectives, or cyber historians."

Working in teams, students analyze primary sources and other data to solve a historical mystery. They follow clues and tips to make connections between people's personal experiences and the political history of the era. One of the "mysteries" utilizes the U.Va. Center for Digital History's "Valley of the Shadow' project, an award-winning hypermedia collection of data developed by history professor Ed Ayers that chronicles the Civil War in two different communities.

"These activities attend to the mission of keeping history alive by looking in- depth at pivotal moments in our past for an understanding of the connections between people, events and consequences," Watson said.

He does not have firm plans after graduation, but said he hopes eventually to combine his expertise in teaching, technology and the law.

See press release on Discovery Channel Web Site Uses U.Va. Student's Research


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