‘Windows to the World’ brings digital artifacts to K-12 classrooms

BLOOMINGTON – If K-12 students don’t have the resources to travel to Indiana University Bloomington’s campus and visit its museums, a new digital toolkit will bring items from IU’s collections to them.

Sir Henry Raeburn (Scottish, 1756-1823). Portrait of Captain Hope, ca. 1815. Oil on canvas, 30 ¼ x 25 ¼ in. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William H. Risley, Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University, 84.9. Photo by Kevin Montague, Eskenazi Museum of Art

Windows to the World: Digital Artifacts for Global Educators, a collaboration between several area studies centers within the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies, will help teachers incorporate items from IU’s collections into their curriculum. Among the items featured are ”Kente Cloth,” “Portrait of Captain Hope” and “Hermes Eye Cup.”

The online toolkit pairs photos of the items with information about their origins, their thematic connections, and additional resources that teachers can use to further explore the object’s role in society and culture.

Colton Ames

“We wanted to create this tool for educators specifically as part of outreach to rural areas who would not be able to visit Bloomington, either due to the distance or funding,” said Colton Ames, associate director of the Hamilton Lugar School’s Institute for European Studies. “It gives students the experience of being able to still see things from museums, and it gives teachers some familiarity with something that’s possibly unfamiliar to them.”

The project brought together museum, education, area studies, and content experts from across campus, with undergraduate and graduate students doing much of the research on the items. The goal is to provide teachers with lesson plans and activity guides they can easily integrate into their classrooms that expose students to the broader world.

Vesna Disitrieska

“Connections can be made across the content areas, and I think that’s what’s unique about it,” said Vesna Dimitrieska, coordinator of global education initiatives in the Hamilton Lugar School and the School of Education. “You can teach math using an artifact from another country, and it may not be the conventional way to teach math, but it incorporates a cultural aspect that can be difficult to integrate otherwise.”

Dimitrieska said she often hears from teachers that they need curriculum support, and the toolkit helps address that need. The materials will also help teachers go beyond the “five Fs” — food, famous people, flags, fashion, and festivals — when introducing students to other cultures.

“There are some deeper aspects of culture that are often not discussed, such as traditions, values, and belief systems,” Dimitrieska said. “Having these discussions helps us better understand each other and thus become more globally competent. Global competence is not a matter of choice nowadays, but rather imperative.”

Those working on the project will provide support to teachers as they use the new online resource.

Information: Barbara Brosher, Communications Consultant at News at IU.