Learn Node: Arctic Exploration knol

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Posted on 21st January 2009 by Judy Breck in about learn nodes | history

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This learn node provides arctic exploration history, especially of the heroic age from the 1840s through early 1900s. The learn node is in the form of a Google knol that is the work of Professor Russell Potter of Rhode Island College. Topics include Norsemen, early explorers Martin Frobisher, Henry Hudson, John Ross, William Edward Parry, and John Franklin, for whom a search when he did not return from an encampment with relics and graves. Descriptions of the explorations that followed in later years feature Elisha Kent Kane, Charles Francis Hall, Adolphus Washington Freely, Roald Amundsen, and the Robert Peary adventurers.

This fascinating Google knol can be called a learn node because it provides links to excellent related nodes that are webpages in the open internet. The knol thus forms a small cluster in which a great deal can be learned about arctic explanation and from which further internet exploration of the subject can be launched.

Learn Node: Metropolitan Opera history review from the past

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Posted on 12th January 2009 by Judy Breck in history | music

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This post republishes a review of the Metropolitan Opera’s “Met History” webpages that I wrote in 1998 for the HomeworkCentral.com Top 8 Newsletter. From 1997-2001, every week I reviewed five, and in later years eight, of the learning materials flooding into the internet. Most of those early nuggets of gold in the internet swamp remain online — often enhanced with new technology like the music delivery you will get by clicking the above image. Extensive database materials and a photo archive are now available. My 1998 review follows:

The majestic history of structures, seasons, and singers of New York City’s Metropolitan Opera fills these pages of the Met’s Website. Students of music history and biography will find this a unique resource. From the time it was founded in 1884, the Metropolitan has played a major artistic role New York and throughout the opera world. Contemporary photographs of the great singers in costume grace the pages of text describing specific performance, taking us back through the years to relish great music, grandly given. As Algernon St. John-Brennon wrote in 1915 in the New York Telegram: “The loveliness, the allurement, the seductiveness, the reverie, and the dream were in the glorious utterance of the singer. We cannot ask for more.”

Learn node: Valkyrie, the July 20, 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler

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Posted on 30th December 2008 by Judy Breck in biography | history

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This learn node connects to six excellent online sources for learning about the July 20, 1944 plot to assassinated Hitler. The learn node was stimulated by the movie Valkyrie, which is based on the actual people and events of the plot. The internet is a new way, in the 21st century, to quickly assemble information about events from virtually any place and any time. If your interest is aroused by seeing the movie — or are teaching or learning about the Nazi resistance — the following links will fill in the facts and characters.

There is a Claus von Stauffenberg biography at the Jewish Virtual Library and a book available at Amazon.com (in German) about Claus von Stauffenberg’s wife Nina Schenk Gräfin von Stauffenberg. The Wikipedia article on Claus von Stauffenberg is one of several subjects related to July 20, 1944 plot that are covered in Wikipedia. A BBC feature describes the events of July 20, 1944: Hitler survives assassination attempt. A BBC report at the time of the 60th anniversary memorial of the attempt to assassinate Hitler, recalls the events and persons involved. And, of course, the homepage of the movie Valkyrie, about the assassination plot provides dramatization of the places and times of the German resistance to Hitler and of the plot itself.


Learn Node: Electoral College process, history, problems, and opinions

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Posted on 18th December 2008 by Judy Breck in history

This learn node clusters official, expert, and historical sources online that explain and explore the Electoral College process, history, problems, and opinions.

The National Archives provides a collection of Electoral College information for students, teachers, state officials, and interested citizens. From Professor Doug Linder’s series exploring Constitutional Law, is his extensive section Exploring Constitutional Conflicts: Should the Electoral College be abolished or modified? The Harper’s Weekly pages about Hayes vs. Tilden 1876-1877 include contemporary text and cartoons. From the Library of Congress is a Presidential Elections and the Electoral College collection relating to the Electoral College. History.com provides an overview of the origins and history of the Electoral College. As background for the establishment of the Electoral College, from Tufts University there is A New Nation Votes, a searchable collection of election returns from the earliest years of American democracy.

Learn node: Light echoes Tycho’s supernova that Brahe saw in 1572

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Posted on 4th December 2008 by Judy Breck in astronomy | biography | general science | history | sciences

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This learn node is about Tycho’s supernova that Brahe saw Nov. 11, 1572. As Yahoo! News reports, Brahe was astonished to see what he thought was a brilliant new star in the constellation Cassiopeia. The light eventually became as bright as Venus and could be seen for two weeks in broad daylight. After 16 months, it disappeared.

BBC reports the 2008 discovery by Max Planck Institute scientists, using telescopes in Hawaii and Spain to capture faint light echoes of the original explosion — in effect capturing a fossil imprint of Tycho’s famous supernova. Wikipedia’s excellent article on Tycho’s Supernova for more background. NASA’s dictionary defines supernova and other relevant terms. The Galileo Project has a fine biography of Tycho Brahe. MIT’s open courseware offers instruction on the Plasma Physics that is a major focus for Tycho’s supernova.

Learn node: Origins of World War I

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Posted on 12th November 2008 by Judy Breck in biography | geography | history

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The Origins of World War I is a lecture from a Yale University on which this learn node is based. The topic is from the Open Yale course France Since 1871 taught by Professor John Merriman, shown teaching in the image. The 45-minute lecture is offered in transcript, mp3 audio, and Flash or Quicktime video. The course overview explains:

The traditional, diplomatic history of World War I is helpful in understanding how a series of hitherto improbable alliances come to be formed in the early years of the twentieth century. In the case of France and Russia, this involves a significant ideological compromise. Along with the history of imperial machinations, however, World War I should be understood in the context of the popular imagination and the growth of nationalist sentiment in Europe.

A major player in the era that led to World War I was Otto von Bismarck. Internet Archive provides his book online: Bismarck, the man and the statesman; being the reflections and reminiscences of Otto, Prince von Bismarck 1898. His image here is from that books frontispiece. The Encyclopedia of 1848 Revolutions is an online source that of a sort the internet has made possible. Dozens of scholars contribute articles to the encyclopedia about the era from in the causes of World War I percolated. The Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, a kick-off point in World War I, is described in a report in the WWI Document Archive housed at Brigham Young University.

Learn Node: Trojan War, Troy and Homer ancient Greek history

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Posted on 26th October 2008 by Judy Breck in archeaology | geography | history | literature

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This learn node points to the archeology of Troy, the Trojan War memorialized in Homer’s epics, and the century-long story of the rediscovery of the famed ancient city. Troy has not only emerged from thousands of years of burial in the dirt of Anatolia. Troy has come alive out of older printed sources, leaving dusty book shelves to become a shining city in the new virtual world online.

At an educational website sponsored by the Troia Project and the University of Cincinnati, follow an animated timeline, investigate 3-D reconstructions, and explore legends and facts. A Dartmouth University classics lesson provides Troy facts and theories concerning the historicity of the Trojan War. You can visit a work in progress by scholars cataloging Greek, Roman and Byzantine Pottery at Ilion (Troia). The Homer’s Trojan Theater project, hosted at the University of Virginia, provides a look into the mind’s eye of the great classic bard Homer, with battlefield animations in a timeline of The Iliad.

Each of these online projects use digitally-based methods to move far beyond what can be conveyed in print. They are all available globally. The future of learning is emerging through learn nodes like these.

Learn Node: Anglo-Saxon history and literature

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Posted on 21st October 2008 by Judy Breck in history | literature

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From this learn node link out to visit virtually the Anglo-Saxon times of Old England. The Ashmolean Museum offers a web-based learning resource aimed at schools and anyone interested in the Anglo-Saxons. It is based on the archive and artefacts held in the Ashmolean Museum. The venerable Bede, great figure of the Anglo-Saxon era, can be studied at Bede’s World — a permanent online exhibition of the Museum of Early Medieval Northumbria at Jarrow that includes topics such as the Anglo-Saxon monastery of St Paul’s, Jarrow, founded in 681/2 AD and St Paul’s Church dedicated in 685 AD. Nearby are Bedes Farm podcasts with audio for guided tours of the online exhibits, source of this post’s farm image.

For a node to learn about the Anglo-Saxon impact that remains up to our times turn to a Modern Poetry lecture from Open Yale courses. These people of long ago echo to us in Ezra Pound: Here is an expatriate poet writing in the voice of the Anglo-Saxon wanderer, a figure deprived of his kinsmen, who is out in the elements, far from land, far from his nation and home.

For much more from the Anglo-Saxons, browse at Georgetown the Labyrinth Old English resources. Western Michigan University’s Medieval Institute has an excellent introduction to The Anglo-Saxons and Their Language and a page at the University of Pittsburgh diagrams Anglo-Saxon church structures.

Learn Node: Visualizing Cultures and Perry Landing in Japan 1854

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Posted on 17th May 2008 by Judy Breck in art | history

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eyesship.jpgThrough a project called Visualizing Cultures, launched in 2002, MIT faculty explore, as the project link describes:

. . . the potential of the Web for developing innovative image-driven scholarship and learning. The VC mission is to use new technology and hitherto largely inaccessible visual materials to reconstruct the past as people of the time visualized the world (or imagined it to be.)

The 2008 course centered on this project is summarized:

Using new technologies, Visualizing Cultures weds images and commentary to illuminate social and cultural history in innovative ways. A narrative “Core Exhibit” not only gives the historical significance of the images, but also addresses issues such as genre and medium. Each unit comes with a comprehensive curriculum and carefully annotated digital archive of images from public and private sources.

The VC course is a superb learn node because it connects richly to closely related webpages that offer high quality knowledge substance. An example of a wonderful part of this VC network is a 2004 MIT project: Black Ships & Samurai: Commodore Perry and the Opening of Japan (1853-1854). To round out this learn node with something for those who prefer text to pictures, a detailed historical essay on Perry’s Japan arrival can be found in Fordham University’s Modern History SourceBook: Commodore Matthew Perry: When We Landed in Japan, 1854.

Learn Node: Los Cerrillos, New Mexico school at the time the town flourished

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Posted on 13th May 2008 by Judy Breck in geography | history

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loscerrillosschool.jpgThe Los Cerrillos school photo is posted here to demo how to make a learnode from a historical artifact. This photo was preserved by my Mother’s aunt Alma North (later Ferguson). Her father George Willis North gave the land to the town for the stone school in front of which the students and their teacher are posed, with Alma at the top left. These facts, and a few more about the school, can be found in a North family history written by Alma’s son Jack Ferguson in 1987, and now posted on my personal website judybreck.com.

The travel website Legends of America has a well-researched article about Los Cerrillos. Another source for information on the town is The Santa Fe County Cerrillos Hills Historic Park. It describes the founding of the town to which my great-grandfather George Willis North and his wife Ida Lupfer North moved with their three children Alma, Clarence (my grandfather), and May in 1887 and remained until 1896.

The Village of Cerrillos was established in 1879 as a tent camp between the lead and silver of the Cerrillos Hills to the north and the coal of Madrid and the gold of Placer and Ortiz Mountains to the south. It flourished as a natural point of access to both areas, but it was the arrival of the railroad in 1880 that assured the fate of the Village of Cerrillos would be different than that of Carbonateville. A few of the mines survived into the 20th century. The American Turquoise Company, an agency of Tiffany, New York, was active around the turn of the century, especially at Turquoise Hill on the north side of the Cerrillos.

I can recall my grandfather Clarence Lupfer North talking about the men from Tiffany. He told me he remembered from when he was a boy that they got big pieces of excellent turquoise from Los Cerrillos to make jewelry for the grand store in New York City.

This node (“knot” is the root of the word node) ties together strands of history and memory – and links out to many more nodes – enriching learning from the dynamic micro level of the Net.