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In this article, we introduce and analyze learning experiences made possible by a teaching framework that we have developed and call digital spatial story lines (DSSLs). DSSLs offer a novel approach to learning on the move by engaging learners with related conceptual practices of archival curation, digital mapping, and the production of public history. Learners collaborate to make and follow map-based story lines that bridge archival media they curate in public libraries and museums onto city neighborhoods these media describe. Story lines can be followed as tours to explore under- or untold stories about a city’s public history at walking scale. To illustrate and study learning within the DSSL framework, we describe and analyze one design iteration from a larger, multi-year research project with local museum, library, and high school partners. Our analysis shows how making and following story lines provided opportunities for pre-service social studies teachers to engage with and learn about the public history of racial segregation, Civil Rights Movement activism, and American Roots Music in Nashville, Tennessee (aka the “Music City”). Our analysis focuses on using archival material to create and share public history as a mobile experience of being both “here-and-then”—a form of palimpsest in which learning on the move layers together historic places and the voices of different historical actors. We end with a discussion of who speaks for the public history of city neighborhoods and the prospects and limitations for teaching and learning with the DSSL framework.


Originally published in:

Hall, R., Shapiro, B. R., Hostetler, A., Lubbock, H., Owens, D., Daw, C., & Fisher, D. (2020). Here-and-then: Learning by making places with digital spatial story lines. Cognition and Instruction, 38(3), 348-373.