Milestone Documents Hosts Case on Textbook Alternative for American Studies Courses

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Dr. Karen Linkletter’s integration of primary sources with pop culture helps students understand influences that shape their worlds

Dr. Linkletter’s approach to selecting classroom materials bypasses the textbook but still provides a strong framework. It shows that Milestone Documents is innovative, effective and easy to adopt.

Milestone Documents is helping educators find an effective alternative to the traditional textbook model by showcasing American Studies educator Karen Linkletter’s classroom strategy. A case study available on http://www.milestonedocuments.com details the California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) lecturer’s strategy for combining primary sources, movies and works of fiction and nonfiction to help students examine the interplay between art, culture and history.

“We’re hearing from a lot of professors who are looking for ways to ditch the rigid structure and prohibitive cost of traditional textbooks,” said Neil Schlager, publisher of Milestone Documents, a unique classroom service built on primary sources. “Dr. Linkletter’s approach to selecting classroom materials bypasses the textbook but still provides a strong framework. It shows that our service is innovative, effective and easy to adopt.”

Case Study: Karen Linkletter turns up the heat on American Studies at Cal State – Fullerton” describes the urban environment of CSUF and its wide variety of students – new and returning, full and part-time students in a range of ages. Linkletter’s class populations can differ dramatically between day and evening and from semester to semester. Further, with many of the students working full-time, she is challenged to engage students who have hectic schedules outside of class. Linkletter sets an aggressive goal to make American Studies relevant and valuable to students’ real lives. Her choice of classroom resources is critical to meeting that goal.

The backbone of Linkletter’s course materials is provided by Milestone Documents. This flexible hybrid combines 1,200 key historical documents with expert analysis from a global network of scholars, packaged within framing content that fills in for a traditional textbook. Milestone Documents provides the full text of most works in its expanding collection, but it’s the analyses that enable Linkletter’s students – whether they are information-literacy-challenged freshmen or budding analytical thinkers – to decipher and appreciate history’s genuine artifacts. Working by decade and era, she pairs historic documents with films and books. The purpose of the counterpoint between culture and history is explained in the case: When viewed in the context of the larger culture, the documents “begin to take on a life,” says Linkletter. More importantly, as students compare and contrast art’s imitation of history and vice versa – as Linkletter describes it, “going underneath history” – students can apply that skill in their own lives, understanding the influences that shape their worlds.

The case detailing Linkletter’s classroom strategy aims to provide a model for other educators to adopt. In addition, Linkletter will be providing further guidance via Milestone Documents as a Course Editor for the service’s American Studies content. In this role, she will create new materials and frameworks that will assist professors who want to ditch their textbooks for a more flexible, affordable and engaging approach to educating students.

Milestone Documents welcomes visitors to its website to read “Case Study: Karen Linkletter turns up the heat on American Studies at Cal State – Fullerton” and other cases recounting paths to educational transformation.

About Milestone Documents
Milestone Documents is an online service and textbook alternative developed for use in history and social science courses. Pairing the most significant primary documents of all time with award-winning analysis by a global network of 300 historians and scholars, Milestone Documents has an expanding document collection of more than 1,200 primary sources. It is accessible via the Web, the iPad, and any smart phone.

Visit MilestoneDocuments.com/evaluation to learn more or launch a free trial.

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Beth Dempsey
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