This is a guest post written by Anne Koizumi, Education Specialist and Workshop Facilitators at the National Film Board of Canada in Montreal, QC.
Only a month ago I was in Niagara-on-the-Lake with my colleague, Claudia Sicondolfo, for the Ontario History and Social Sciences Teachers’ Association Conference “History and Identity: Marking 200 Years of the Canadian Experience.” It was an excellent choice of location, considering that this was the same region that had been consumed by war exactly 200 years ago. We were there to talk about that part of our shared history, as well as the integration of history and new technologies in educational settings. We took part in a panel on War of 1812 educational projects and studies, and presented the new NFB interactive app The Loxleys and the War of 1812 and its accompanying study guide (written by myself and Jennifer Moss) to secondary history and social studies teachers and university professors. It was my first time on an academic panel and I learned a valuable lesson from my colleagues: wear a suit.
Created by the NFB Digital Studio and produced by the National Film Board in partnership with the Department of Canadian Heritage, The Loxleys and the War of 1812 is available for free on the iTunes App Store and on Google Play. The animated interactive narrative, which can be viewed in both official languages, concerns a fictional family caught in the very real turmoil of war. It offers an exciting history lesson that explores the causes of the War and its impact on English, French and First Nations people in Canada as well as on Americans. The app also includes an interactive map, which reflects the location of events as users read along. An active, portable teaching tool, The Loxleys and the War of 1812 is a fresh and inventive way of giving students an overview of the War. You can watch a trailer for the app here.
At the NFB, we encourage the integration of new technologies in the classroom. Accompanying The Loxleys and the War of 1812 is a downloadable study guide designed to assist secondary school teachers in utilizing the app to its full educational potential. I wrote the guide’s discussion questions to serve as a starting point for educators and students studying the War’s key moments and the various groups it affected. The guide’s activities aim to integrate technology into the classroom while stimulating the historical imagination, and to fully immerse students in the past by having them recreate events from the conflict in various forms—from a War of 1812 zine to their own “Heritage Minute” movie.