September 06, 2007
By David Darlington
Columbia University has an interesting online curriculum project that those teaching Asian history might be interested in. Sponsored by the university’s East Asian Curriculum Project and the Project on Asia in the Core Curriculum, Asia for Educators incorporates previous Columbia University teaching workbooks in Asian history into one site, and has lesson plans, timelines, multimedia, maps, primary sources, cartoons, and illustrations available for download and use in the classroom. The site also includes an entire web course in East Asian history, covering 400 BC to the present, featuring notes for 14 lessons plus course introduction. Users can search through Asian history by one of 13 different subjects or 9 different time periods, from 4000 BC to the present. Searching by subject area reveals several teaching units for each subject, as well as recommendations for classroom materials to order and web sites to visit for more information.
Current featured teaching units include life under the Kangxi and Qianlong emperors, the Song Dynasty in China (960-1279), contemporary Japanese society and culture, the complex relationship between China and Europe, and Mongols in World History. These featured teaching units are web-based multimedia presentations, featuring art, illustrations, sound, and Flash animation. The presentation on the Kangxi and Qianlong emperors, for example, (“Recording the Grandeur of the Qing”) is a beautifully animated site created by collaboration by Columbia, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, with extensive links to lessons and other resources.
At the moment, the site is incomplete (the Document Based Questions section (DBQs) and some lesson plans are missing) and seems a bit slanted to Chinese and Japanese history at the expense of other parts of Asia. However, there is definitely enough substance there to be worth a look.