Independence Hall Association Launches Free, Online American History Textbook

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The Independence Hall Association (IHA) in Philadelphia has released a free digital American history textbook for middle- and high-school students, which will evolve to include interactive displays, video streaming, simulations or dynamic versions of the text, and opportunities for collaboration by students and teachers.

The site, a highly trafficked online repository of American history, is owned and operated by IHA, a non-profit that founded and helps oversee management of Independence National Historical Park. In releasing this new digital textbook, the IHA's mission is to encourage students and challenge them "to probe, dispute, dig deeper inquire" about historical events.

Historians, authors, and educators who have been experts in US history supplied expert advice and guidance to IHA as the textbook was developed. Starting with a chapter on Native American society and the British colonization, the online textbook walks students through over 400 pages of important historical events and presents opportunities for them to delve deeper into topics. The final chapter of the e-book provides a detailed account of the information age and technology's influence on the world.

In creating the online textbook, the IHA consulted academic standards set by states and traditional course outlines. The group has plans to supply additional content and resources to the course regularly.

"Our digital textbook presents history in a medium where today's students live, learn, communicate and thrive. We hope teachers will use this new resource to get students excited about history and help them develop a deeper understanding about how historic events influence the direction of our country," said Jonathan Schmalzbach, the executive director of the association. "History is not static. It changes, grows, becomes richer and more complex when any individual interacts with it. Our challenge and charge is to present history in a way that will excite students and turn them into passionate, active citizens."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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