Examination of the Historian's Toolbox

The interface of the Historian’s toolbox (California State University System) was visually boring and a bit confusing. It was not intuitive and one had to read the instructions to proceed to the next level which would discourage many from fully exploring the website. The first unit which dealt with deciding upon research topics and how to make sure that the right topics are chosen was really easy. The language was simple, the examples easily understandable, and the information was retainable.

The second unit which dealt with locating secondary resources and using library research sources was the exact opposite of the first unit. Sometimes it seemed there was too much information on each page with lot of new terms. Unit 2 had the type of information that is best learnt by doing rather than learnt through a tutorial. Many terms such as library catalogue number may be new for many people and thus, difficult to retain except through actual practice. Thus, unit 2 is probably best suited to live demonstration.

The third unit was about finding primary resources but surprisingly it was much easier to understand than unit 2 because most of the terms were already familiar and moreover, the information in unit was quite general rather than specific and thus, easy to retain. Unit 3 was also engaging but wish that some of the website links could be copy-pasted. For example, I had to manually write the address of the University of Idaho repositories website since the web address in the tutorial could not be copied with the help of the mouse.

The fourth unit talked about evaluating primary and secondary sources. It is the unit from whom I learnt the most. The unit does a great job of educating the learner as to how to judge the quality of the resources as well as its reliability. I also noted in this essay that I rarely use footnotes in my essays and that footnotes are an important part of history essays. The fifth unit was already familiar since it dealt with paper writing process which most of us have already learnt in the English composition classes. The last unit which was the sixth unit was probably the most helpful to me in terms of improving my paper writing skills. I still make mistakes when citing sources within the papers and this unit dealt with properly citing sources. 

Overall, only the information in the second unit was difficult to retain because one has to spend considerable time on the university library terminals to become better at research as well as finding sources. All other units did a good job of explaining the lessons. Some units were easy because the language used was simple but others seemed easy because they addressed topics already familiar to most of the readers. I did feel that the sixth unit was probably incomplete and didn’t help me much. Even though I did understand what it said but I felt that I could use more information regarding citations.

As far as my writing is concerned, I could improve how I cite my resources as well as the sources’ selection process. I have learnt how to critically analyze sources so I hope to minimize the chances of selecting sources that might have objectivity problems due to the author’s personal bias. I may also start incorporating more footnotes in my history essays from now onwards.