discovers teaching and takes history to the Web
By Jill Johnson
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.
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."
of students around the country may already have benefited from
one of his ideas, an innovative online teaching device at Discovery.com.
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.
program (found at http://school.
been used in classrooms nationwide to teach students about how
20th-century technology has affected people's lives.
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."
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
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,"
does not have firm plans after graduation, but said he hopes eventually
to combine his expertise in teaching, technology and the law.
press release on Discovery
Channel Web Site Uses U.Va. Student's Research