Company rolls out digital 'makerspace' for humanities
An online educational platform is rolling out a new digital toolset to help users tell their stories.
The educational company AwesomeStories in Grand Rapids said this month that it has launched MakerSpace for the Humanities to "take research and critical thinking in the humanities to the next level."
MakerSpace for the Humanities provides educators and teachers access to the company's AwesomeStories — a free, web-based archive of more than 4,000 stories, linked to more than 100,000 primary sources — with the new premium, or paid, StoryMaker web-based application, where members can build and publish evidence-based content.
Deborah Bond-Upson, chief education officer at AwesomeStories, said the website is the environment, the archive provides resources for educators and students and the application is a storytelling toolset, enabling users to explore topics in the humanities.
“It is an exciting way of thinking, teaching and learning,” Bond-Upson said.
She said the platform's new toolset allows users "go online and quickly build a story that links to real, true, primary sources from our archive.”
“Students need to learn about our civilization, our government, literature, language arts and reading,” Bond-Upson said. “It is a playground where they can think, read, find, analyze and construct their own knowledge. It is really the best kind of teaching. We think our methodology is right at the breakthrough point.”
A MakerSpace membership costs $39 a year for a teacher and a classroom up to 30 students and $14 a year for a teacher or student.
The company is also launching a “StoryMaker With Your Students” contest with the announcement of MakerSpace for the Humanities.
By signing up for a free trial or an annual subscription for the paid MakerSpace offering, students and classrooms can create stories and submit them for a chance to win iPads or Chromebooks and premium annual memberships for the winning classroom.
“We are eager for more teachers and students to use this, so we are offering prizes,” Bond-Upson said. “We have our team of AwesomeTeacherLeaders judging this. They are national board-certified teachers, librarians and principals from around the country.”
AwesomeStories was co-founded by Grand Rapids-based trial attorney Carole Bos and her husband Jim Bos in 1999.
Through its flagship free archive, the company has grown to a membership base of more than 35,000 educators.
“The stories have been terrific for teachers to use in the classroom, but the teachers needed to build linkages to academic standards and lesson plans,” Bond-Upson said. “We have expanded the archive. We have aligned with academic standards. And we have built a series of applications.”