As one of the historic interpreters at Mount Vernon, I constantly come into contact with students (usually middle schoolers) who find the history they are learning in their classrooms incredibly boring. These same students can’t seem to get enough of some of the features of the estate, particularly the first person interpreters who often staff the reconstructed slave cabin. Here, students can see and hear first-hand what life would have been like for one of George Washington’s slaves. Students find these interactions much more rewarding than lessons from dry textbooks. Now, the rise of digital media and digital storytelling is making these first person interpretations available to an increasing number of Fairfax County students.
This first time, amateur attempt at Animoto was chance to highlight these learning styles and chart the change from textbooks to digital media in the classroom. I definitely found the text limits frustrating, but the program’s user-friendly approach clearly shows that it does have potential for educational use.