Published: Aug. 27, 2014

"Visuals are important," says CU Boulder History Professor Marcia Yonemoto.  Yonemoto includes maps and photographs of woodblock art and historic Japanese architecture in her PowerPoint lectures about Japanese history.  This spring, students nominated her for an ASSETT Teaching with Technology Award for her well organized presentations in the History seminar 4738, Age of the Samurai in the Early Modern Period.  Students wrote that Yonemoto's class featured, "Meaningful usage of media to enhance learning and understanding.  [She] created a memorable and educational digital discussion using modern pop culture media as submitted by students to create a better understanding of arts importance in understanding historical content."  Yonemoto says that following along with a PowerPoint presentation can be helpful when students are less familiar with Japanese language and names.  She shares the images that she uses in PowerPoint presentations on her D2L course pages.

History Professor Marcia YonemotoYonemoto says that her History 4738 course investigated the samurai as, "... a cultural icon ... We watched several dramatic films about the samurai ... Now with D2L, you don't have to take class time to watch a movie."  To complement students' readings of historical documents, Yonemoto streamed both historically accurate and less than historically accurate films (including 47 Ronin) onto D2L for students to watch for homework to complement their readings.  She asked her class to consider, "Why do we represent Japan in this way?"  Yonemoto also plays cultural music that may better inform students about World War II fervor or the differences among regions within Japan.  She assigns alternating Discussion Group Leaders to post discussion topics for upcoming class discussions onto a D2L discussion boards before class.

Yonemoto says that much of teaching is about learning from students:

I like talking to and engaging with students.  Teaching is a learning process where you learn from your students.  You find out interesting ideas ... It keeps everything moving.  It's always exciting.  It's what makes this a great job.  It's always a new generation.  They have different responses.  I may assign the same book over a period of teaching, and I get different responses ... I learn so much from how [students] engage with the material ... I think that can inform the way we teach ... It's always a work in progress.

Yonemoto says that she is interested in the digital humanities.  Yonemoto explains that having access to digitally archived historical documents and search engine features allows historians to draw historical conclusions that would have taken much more time before this technology existed.  She wants to get students excited about the prospect of more easily investigating a larger amount of historical documents.  Yonemoto says:

To expose students to the excitement of doing research in documents; being the first person to analyze the documents in this way or come up with the data in this way ... What can we study that we don't already know?  There's so much we don't know.  Students can be on the ground floor discovering it for themselves ... Basic search engines and digitization have revolutionized what you can do ... The possibilities are great.