December 19, 2018

IU Center Developing Interactive App To Help Teach State History

Leaders at the center say they're using a previous educational app as a template. - Lindsey Wright/ WFIU-WTIU News

Leaders at the center say they're using a previous educational app as a template.

Lindsey Wright/ WFIU-WTIU News

A group at Indiana University is creating an app that will help students learn about the state’s history.

The idea for the free learning tool is, in part, a response to legislation passed last year that requires high schools to offer a state history elective course. It’s also a bicentennial signature project for the university.

Elizabeth Osborn is the education director for IU’s Center on Representative Government. She says the center is using a previous educational app as a template.

"So we have  a lot of the software development side done," she says. "We’re imitating the process in many places, and that’s cutting about a year and a half and a lot of money off the project as well."

Osborn says the app can supplement curriculum for schools as they start offering a state history course.

It allows teachers to follow six chronological themes including the Civil War, industrialization, and the Great Depression. Students can watch introductory videos and answer questions.But Osborn says the app isn’t just for teachers.

"The average home school parent can use it, after school programs at the YMCA, just kids doing enrichment at home or occupying them in the back seat of the car," Osborn says.

She says group designed the app so users can use it in multiple ways.

"There’s no entry and exit point, things that you have to do," she says. "You can just get in and zoom around and look at the primary sources if that’s what interests you. You don’t have to play any of the games, you don’t have to answer any of the questions."

The IU center is working with numerous organizations including the Indiana Historical Society to build the content.

They hope to start testing the learning tool in classrooms this coming spring and formally launch it in November 2019.

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