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Pros: Well-conceived videos and text empower students and fuse history and English lessons.
Cons: While the site's a great resource for teachers, kids browsing solo might find its layout and content underwhelming.
Bottom Line: IWitness allows students to reflect upon the past, looking toward today’s values and society. Students build knowledge about the past using a dynamic, specific tool.
Educators from multiple disciplines, particularly English and history, can assign activities to students or custom-build their own activities in IWitness using the activity builder. Teachers can connect students with the past through eyewitness testimonies and learning activities, allowing students to identify with people who are different than them. All of this is done in a password-protected online space that allows for privacy. Teachers can create classes using the dashboard and assign activities for students to complete. Teachers can also use this site flexibly, choosing to share short clips in their lessons or even use IWitness as a semester-long experience through assigned activities. Using the teacher dashboard, teachers can see all of their students’ created videos and view comments by other students.
Want your students to engage with survivors of the Holocaust? IWitness delivers eyewitness testimonies of Holocaust survivors and allows students to participate in activities that help build empathy and knowledge on these topics, asking them to focus on how historical events impact society in general and their lives specifically.
Teachers use a dashboard to assign activities, and students must sign up to participate in each assigned task. The activities include testimonies, archives, and a video editing project where students focus on communicating what they learned throughout the activity. Students can search, watch, listen, learn, and build word clouds while working through multimedia activities. Students can collaborate on these activities, too.
IWitness is ideal for teaching the humanities, and its content easily crosses disciplinary boundaries; activities relate to English language arts, civics & government, character education, foreign language, Earth sciences, sociology, and media & digital literacy. The only challenge is the site's design: It's a great resource for teachers, but kids may find it a little boring to navigate on their own. With great built-in tools for teachers to curate and manage their students' online experience, that may be okay, but some teachers may find that using this tool requires more effort and teacher direction than some other tools out there.
That being said, IWitness offers engaging, thought-provoking, and empathetic activities that allow students to sort through genocide-related history topics. There's a particular focus on the Holocaust, and other videos share the eyewitness testimony of other tragedies' survivors. Students dive into activities, making connections between videos and saving clips they’ve watched. Each activity includes a place for students to take their own notes. Students can also save encyclopedia entries and photos, which will allow them to make their own video projects in a built-in video editor. Students can also interact socially with each other and comment on other videos.Overall, this is a great tool for a classroom where the teacher is willing to curate and monitor content. Teachers seeking less legwork might look elsewhere.