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History Harvest Experiential Learning Activity

Fall 2016 Experiential Learning Project

In the fall of 2016 the Digital Convergence Lab collaborated with the Department of History and the University Libraries to hold a History Harvest experiential learning activity. Participation provided students in Professor Stanley Arnold’s American History survey class (United States since the Civil War) with an opportunity to explore how digital technology relates to the study of history. Participants “learned by doing,” working together toward a defined goal in the team-based organizational form favored by many employers today.

A History Harvest is a community-based history project. It uses digital technology to the share the experiences and artifacts of people and local historical institutions. For each “harvest” student participants invite community members to share their letters, photographs, objects, and stories, and participate in a conversation about the significance and meaning of their materials. This semester a group of more than twenty students will explore the theme of Immigration to DeKalb County. Student participants will capture submitted materials using digital technology and load them into a secure repository. They will then select materials of particular significance or meaning and arrange them in an online exhibit. Overall, the History Harvest project aims to raise visibility and public conversation about history and its meaning, as well as provide a new foundation of publicly available material for historical study, K-12 instruction, and life-long learning.

The History Harvest event was held on Saturday, October 15 at Founders Memorial Library. The project exhibit should be complete by November 11.

The University of Nebraska has taken the lead in promoting the use of History Harvest events in colleges and universities. For examples of History Harvest exhibits that students there have created see

Other institutions at which History Harvests have taken place include the University of Illinois, Springfield; Macalester College (MN); the University of Central Florida; the University of Louisville; and Trinity College (TX).

For more information about this project, or to learn how you can get a mobile tour for your historical site, contact:

Drew E. VandeCreek
Director of Digital Initiatives
University Libraries
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115
(815) 753-7179

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Founders Memorial Library (FO) 
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