The Doughboy Foundation and Verizon Deliver the Lessons of WWI to a New Generation

Published: 27 October 2022

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Though World War I is arguably one of the most consequential periods in American history, the subject is woefully scant in most middle / high school history textbooks and educational materials.

With the Centennial of World War I as the driver, the U.S. WWI Centennial Commission with its partner the Doughboy Foundation created a body of WWI Teaching and Learning Resources that together deliver high quality, comprehensive, contemporary, compelling, and engaging WWI education that is ideally suited to a next generation of young adults, who grew up learning from digital resources, which are now available on the Verizon Innovative Learning HQ portal.

The core components about “How WWI Changed America” were developed under a grant from the Mellon Foundation with the content development led by Commissioner Dr. Libby O’Connell, who was nominated to the Commission while serving as the Chief Historian at the Discovery Channel. Leading WWI historians and experts were involved in developing the content, including Dr. Chris Capozzola, MIT; Dr. Jennifer Keene, Chapman University; Dr. John Morrow Jr. University of Georgia; Dr. Jeffrey Sammons, New York University; Dr. Herman Viola, Curator Emeritus, Smithsonian Institution.  These educational resources look at WWI through the lens of women in WWI, African and Native Americans, Immigrants, the Bill of Rights, propaganda, and more. These well-crafted teaching and learning resources trace the unprecedented transformation of the United States from an isolationist, agrarian, globally inconsequential country, with a standing military smaller than that of Portugal, to a major player stepping onto the world stage, taking a key role in helping decisively end a 4-year-old, unimaginably brutal global conflict.

Using additional grants from the National Endowment for Humanities (NEH), Walmart and American Express, those same components were repurposed as suporting content for the National WWI Memorial “Virtual Explorer” and “Visitor Guide” augmented reality apps. These apps leverage the power of “augmented reality” already built into most people’s smartphones and tablet to bring a WWI educational overlay to visitors at the new National WWI Memorial in Washington DC, or to bring the entire 1.8-acre WWI Memorial to anyone, anywhere including to teachers, students, and the public with an interactive, 3D, walk-around model of the Memorial complete with the WWI educational overlay. The augmented reality apps have already been recognized in a variety of ways, including multiple awards for “Best Use of Augmented Reality” 2021 and 2022 by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts; as a 2022 “Cool Tool Finalist” at the EdTech awards; and two prestigious 2022 Webby Award nominations from the Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences (the Oscars of the digital world) for “Best Use of Augmented Reality” and for the “Arts, Culture & Events” categories.

In early 2022, the WWI Teaching and Learning Resources were introduced to Verizon, who penned a partnership agreement with the Doughboy foundation to bring these WWI educational components onto the “Verizon Innovative Learning HQ portal”. For the past 10 years, Verizon Innovative Learning, Verizon’s award-winning education initiative, has been bridging the digital divide by providing technology, internet access, curricula, and other resources to students and educators at schools across the country. Now, in early October 2022 the Doughboy Foundation’s WWI Memorial Apps with the core WWI Teaching and Learning Resources have gone live and are available to middle and high school teachers through Verizon Innovative Learning HQ.

The WWI Teaching and Learning Resources with the supporting teacher guides, student worksheets, primary sources, video documentaries and more can be found at https://www.verizon.com/learning/ar-vr-apps. All the resources are free to educators who can access them by signing up for an account on the portal. Click on the WWI Memorial “Virtual Explorer” icon (or others) to link to the registration page if you are not already on the platform.

The WWI Teaching and Learning Resources are unusual in the EdTech space because they are in the “Humanities” genre whereas a majority of EdTech resources are STEM oriented (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).

In packaging the lessons for the Verizon Innovative Learning HQ, we aimed to address the needs of middle and high school (grades 7-12) history and civics teachers. With innumerable state and school district teaching standards, these teachers are tasked with offering single day to 5+ day WWI related curricula to their students. WWI is a subject many history teachers would like to include, and with increasing interest over the past 5 years, but there are scant resources and references available in existing history books and teaching resources. This is a disabling factor for teachers dedicated to delivering quality education to their students. According to the Office or Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education, the teachers have less than 9% of already insufficient education budgets for source materials.

We have directly addressed this problem. Our WWI Teaching and Learning Resources are standards driven, comprehensive, sourced from credentialed experts, well-crafted, contemporary, interactive, and most important, they can be accessed and used at no cost.

We have also organized the lessons so that a teacher can scaffold the materials into a curriculum as short as a single day or as extensive as 5+ days with a core element supported by a selection of options that look at the dramatic effect of WWI through the lens of women, African Americans, Native Americans, immigrants, citizenship, propaganda, Bill of Rights, and more.

What if I am not a teacher but want to access these materials for home schooling or simply for myself?

When you register on the Verizon Innovative Learning HQ portal registration, there is a drop down selection under “Role”. Simply select “Non-Educator” as your role. Addtionally, all the WWI Teaching and Learning Resources except for the teacher guides and student worksheets can be accessed by anyone, anytime through the Doughboy Foundation Website at https://Doughboy.org under Activities -Teaching and Learning.

The WWI Memorial Apps can be found in the Apple and Google Play app stores. Go to your platform store and search under “WWI Memorial”.

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