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Park history might become part of Web learning system

April 07, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The stories behind the historic Harpers Ferry, W.Va., area could soon reach across the country if a Web-based interactive learning project for school students is a success, officials said Thursday.

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park officials got the idea for the program after a similar one was launched in another part of the country to help students with math, said Catherine Bragaw, education program coordinator for the park.

The students were failing math, but their grades changed dramatically after they began learning math through the Web-based interactive system, Bragaw said.

It worked because it was a learning method that students could relate to, Bragaw said.

"It's a new generation and they're very technologically savvy," Bragaw said.

Sim Plus EXP developed the math program and now the company wants to work with local officials to develop one concentrating on history, Bragaw said.

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The Harpers Ferry area was selected because of the "wide breadth of American stories" that came out of the area, Bragaw said. Harpers Ferry was where abolitionist John Brown made history, where blacks fought for equal rights and where American industrialization flourished and developed.

Officials want the first prototype of the Web-based program to focus on the Niagara Movement, which occurred in Harpers Ferry and is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, Bragaw said.

The Niagara Movement started when a group of black leaders met to work on gaining civil rights for blacks and the ideals helped lead to the formation of the NAACP.

The Web-based approach uses video clips, incorporates critical analysis and allows students to "walk through" the site they are studying, said Bragaw, who briefed members of the Jefferson County Commission about the effort Thursday.

Commission members passed a resolution in support of the effort and Bragaw said she hopes one of the members will be on a steering committee to help define the program.

"I think it's a terrific project," said Commission member Rusty Morgan.

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