Resource | K-12 Evaluated Resource Collection

K-12 Evaluated Resource Collection

Big History Project

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(5/5 Member Rating - 1 Member Votes)
Author/Publisher/Website: school.bighistoryproject.com
Copyright: 2020
Evaluation/Record Entry Date: Apr/2020
Submitting suppliers/Website: Not Available
Recommended Grades and Subjects/Courses: 9-12
(View recommended grades and subjects)

Resource Description

This well-designed and easy-to-use website focuses on eight chapters, or thresholds, exploring concepts from science, astronomy, and technology. Each threshold includes videos, textual information, and multiple choice quizzes. Teachers can choose individual videos to accompany class lessons or assign students an entire chapter to work through independently, while students researching a particular topic could explore the site on their own. Up-to-date content is accompanied by quality videos, and files for course plans with questions that can encourage creative and critical thinking.

CURRICULUM FIT

Does the resource support BC curriculum?
Extensively
This product supports the Core Competencies of the BC curriculum:
Positive Personal and Cultural Identity
Social Responsibility
Comments:
Although this website is American and is promoted as a Social Studies resource, it supports junior and senior Science Big Ideas including the formation of the Universe and origin of the Earth and solar system (Science 10 and Earth Science 11), life and evolution (Life Sciences 11), and atoms and molecules (Chemistry 11). It does include sections on ancient cultures and human migration which support Social Studies courses such as Comparative Cultures 12 and Human Geography 12. The site also emphasizes interconnectedness of organisms, environments, and solar systems, a theme that is seen throughout courses from Science 9 to Social Studies 12 and supports Core Competencies.

GENERAL CONTENT

Content
Is the resource engaging?
Extensively
Is the content current for the intended curriculum and grade?
Extensively
Is the content accurate for the intended curriculum and grade?
Extensively
Is the content timely and important for student broad understandings?
Extensively
Audience:
Is the content appropriate to the emotional maturity and cognitive level of students?
Extensively
Does the resource provide opportunities for creative and critical thinking?
Moderately
Can the content be differentiated?
Moderately
Can reading level be adjusted?
Not at all or slightly
Is the level of detail appropriate?
Extensively
Is the language use appropriate to the emotional maturity and cognitive level of students?
Extensively
Comments:
This American site supports the BC curriculum with content varied across Science and Social Studies. The reading level cannot be adjusted but teachers can differentiate by adjusting how much content (in particular links to additional videos that extend some topics) they ask students to cover. Video closed-captions are also available. The last section poses a couple of thought-provoking questions regarding the impact of human activities on the future, but short quizzes throughout only ask simple, general questions. A course plan available as a pdf download offers "driving questions" which elicit more creative and critical thinking though their incorporation would require teacher facilitation.

TECHNICAL DESIGN

Does the resource make effective use of the medium?
Extensively
Is the navigation throughout the site intuitive?
Extensively
Is the content exportable in a variety of file formats such as wpd, doc, pdf, xls, etc.?
Moderately
Are the presentation controls (e.g. sizing, resolutions, volume, etc.) suitable for the classroom?
Extensively
Are images clear?
Extensively
Is the sound quality clear?
Extensively
Is the interface uncluttered?
Extensively
Descriptors:
User-managed password resets
Print and online help provided in simple and brief segments (FAQ, Quick help, etc.)
External links are operational
Technical specifications given
Displays in mobile devices
Comments:
A clean and uncluttered interface creates a very clear and guided user experience. The website is up-to-date and external links are reachable. Video sound and image quality are good and full-screen viewing of videos is available. A clear and well-articulated site map is available, and teacher/student documents link clearly to site design. The FAQ page offers technical requirements and support and information about the course. Files for course plans and a research report are available in pdf format only and access does not require an account.

INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN

Is the instructional design effective and appropriate for the intended audience?
Extensively
Is the resource suitable for a wide range of learning and teaching styles?
Extensively
Are the instructional elements consistent with the purpose of the resource?
Extensively
Are the concepts clearly explained?
Extensively
Does the progression in learning go from the simple to the complex?
Extensively
Are the content chunking and sequencing appropriate?
Extensively
Does the resource provide multiple strategies to help learners construct meaning?
Extensively
Does the resource support a gradual release of responsibility i.e. explicit instruction, guided practice, independent learning?
Moderately
Does the resource provide varied opportunities to demonstrate learning and extend thinking?
Moderately
Does the resource provide appropriate tools for assessment?
Moderately
Does the resource support the transfer of learning to personal or applied contexts?
Extensively
Comments:
The site course is divided into 5 parts, each with a number of thresholds (transitions in history creating increased complexity) totaling 8 thresholds altogether. An "at a glance" feature lets the user see how long a part will take, and the progression through each part can be seen on the left-hand side of the user's screen. Sections include 2-3 minute embedded videos, bits of text to read, and multiple choice quizzes, but no independent learning guidance. Demonstration of Big Idea learning would need to be organized by a teacher, as assessment offered on the site is limited.

DIGITAL CLASSROOM REFERENCE

Does the reference cover topics with sufficient depth for the intended audience?
Extensively
Does the classroom reference have a bibliography and footnotes?
Moderately
Does the classroom reference use multimedia to support learning?
Extensively
Are the subject area list and/or subtopics extensive?
Extensively
Do the external links contribute to the learning experience
Extensively
Descriptors:
Student research tools
Secondary reference material such as summaries or reviews of research
Video content can be chunked
Comments:
The design of the website and program is structured in such a way that search it not required, and is soft-gated with quiz items (using Life Long Learner pathway with no account). This resource is an extension of face-to-face instruction with a teacher and student curriculum guide so it is more of an online, multimedia text than assignment hub (based on experience of using non-account version of site).

TECHNICAL INFORMATION PROVIDED BY THE VENDOR

Mac Version(s) :
na
Win Version(s) :
na
Is Active Directory integration available for updating user data?
Yes

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS

Readability:
At intended grade level(s)
Comments:
The site is sponsored by Bill Gates and includes a video introduction and endorsement by him. There are pdf downloads available with course plans, timelines, and guides for facilitating the content. There is a site map, terms and privacy agreements, FAQ page, credits, and "about" page with a list of contributors. There is a teacher blog about recent events, as well as a teacher community and professional development area where teachers may sign in to join. Links to join Big History Project on Facebook or follow Twitter are at the bottom of each site page.

SUGGESTED CLASSROOM USAGE

Comments:
Teachers could use this website by showing specific, chosen videos to a class or by assigning students an entire section (threshold) to work through on their own, with a partner, or as a class, using the embedded quizzes as check-ins for understanding and engagement. Individual students researching a particular topic or extending their learning in a certain area might enjoy exploring the site on their own with teacher guidance. Teachers can choose to create a free account to better monitor student progress through the site's thresholds.
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