Channel Web Site Uses U.Va. Student's Research
28, 2000 -- In 1992, Kenneth Watson, a law graduate
of Georgetown University, left his job at a Washington, D.C., consulting
firm to substitute-teach at Albemarle High School.
fell in love with teaching, and spent three years teaching Advanced
Placement (AP) government to high school seniors. He began to realize
the impact he was having on the students, and decided to pursue
a doctorate in education from the University of Virginia's Curry
School of Education.
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," he said.
felt he could affect the most students by attending graduate school
and implementing new teaching strategies. Though he won't receive
his University of Virginia education degree until May, hundreds
of students around the country have already 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. It sparked the interest of a Discovery Channel
producer at a Florida conference in November, and Watson was asked
to create a version of his project for Discovery.com.
program was used in classrooms nationwide to teach students about
20th century technology and how it has affected people's
wanted 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.
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
of the "mysteries" utilizes the Valley of the Shadow project,
an award-winning hypermedia collection of data chronicling the Civil
War in two different communities by the U.Va. Virginia Center for
Web project aims to help students gain a comprehensive understanding
of their subject. "They have to understand that culture, family,
social class, race, economic status, gender and occupation affect
history," Watson said.
said understanding the emotions and thoughts of those that experienced
history prepares students for the AP exams because it gives them
context for the information they learn.
1999, "Infotectives Online" won first place in Ed's
Oasis MasterSearch, a contest for web-based lesson plans.
does not have firm plans after graduation, but he said he hopes
eventually to combine his expertise in teaching, technology and
more information, contact Kenneth Watson at (804) 245-5921 or email@example.com.
Jill Johnson, (804) 924-6855