The Internet in the Teaching of Anthropologyby Richard Robbins Department of Anthropology SUNY at Plattsburgh Prepared in September, 1996
Before you begin planning how you will use the internet in your teaching, here are four helpful hints:
First, acquaint yourself with the anthropological resources that are available on the internet; an invaluable survey is contained in Brian Schwimmer's article, "Anthropology on the Internet: A Review and Evaluation of Networked Resources." in Current Anthropology, Volume 37, Number 3, June 1996 p.561. You can also access the article via the internet at http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~anthro/ca/papers/schwimmer/intro.html or via Brian Schwimmer's homepage at http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~schwimm
The internet version is in hypertext format and will allow you to directly access the many internet sites that Schwimmer reviews. Once you have read the article (preferably the online version in hypertext), you will begin to fully appreciate some of the possibilities for using the internet in your classes.
Another excellent introduction to the internet via anthropology, especially for students, is the World Wide Web tour developed by Hugh Jarvis at SUNY at Buffalo for his introductory course in archaeology at http://wings.buffalo.edu/go?tour. It's user friendly, and will acquaint students with basic internet resources in archaeology, among other things.
Second, be prepared for some initial frustration, especially at the level of expertise you will likely find among your students. As Chuck Coker, of California State Polytechnic University put it, skill levels will likely range from that of the student who wants to know why it's called a floppy disk when its made of hard plastic, to one who is capable of reconstructing the internet while still groggy from a night of drunken revelry.
Third, reduce your frustration level (and raise appreciation levels among students, especially the one confused about floppy disks) by making use of whatever help your college or university might offer. For example, your school is likely to have a computer center or laboratory staffed with specialists or students to help those in distress. It is a good idea to let them know what you are planning, and even take them through whatever internet sites you plan to use. Often they will even provide internet orientation sessions specifically for your class. In addition, I have found it particularly useful to have a student assistant whose sole job is to help other students with their internet assignments and problems. My last assistant, Ms. Gloria Bobbie, not only was in fact capable of reconstructing the internet, but she was able to suggest other uses for the internet as well as useful sites. She also let me know the problems students were having, but were reluctant to report to me. She also taught me a lot about the internet.
Finally, be sure that your students take advantage of the search capabilities of the internet. There are hundreds of what are called "search engines" that allow the user to type a word or phrase and access a list of all the sites relevant to the search. Type in 'anthropology', for example, and you'll likely get some 20,000 matches. The beauty of the internet is its ability to link sites and topics in endless ways. It's as if you were reading a book and had direct access to all the books, articles, and research materials cited in the bibliography.
Types of Internet Resources on the Internet
The following is a list of the types of anthropological resources that are available on the internet that can be used in teaching. Full addresses and descriptions of sites are included in the appendix.
¥ E-mail Discussion Lists: Various discussion groups on anthropology and related topics. The most general is ANTHRO-L that is distributed from the State University of New York, Buffalo.
¥ USENET news groups: These are simply discussion lists that are stored in an open central depository or bulletin board rather than distributed to subscribers. One example is sci.anthropology.
¥ Research consortia and collections: These consist of anthropological databases such as the Human Genome Project with its immense DNA-sequence database, or the Fourth World Documentation project at Washington State's Center of Indigenous Studies, that contains material documenting the fate of indigenous or minority peoples. The Mayan Epigraphic Database at the University of Virginia is an effort to assemble, display, and distribute a Mayan hieroglyphic image collection.
¥ Scholarly Journals and Societies: These are actual online journals such as the World Journal of Anthropology, and Theoretical Anthropology. In Addition, some anthropology journals (e.g. Current Anthropology and Cultural Anthropology Methods) have Web sitesthat include some sample articles on-line.
¥ Anthropology Departments: Various departments of anthropology including SUNY at Buffalo,. Oxford University, University of Kent at Canterbury, University of Manitoba among many others, have their own web site. These departmental sites contain everything from research databases (University of Kent and Oxford University, University of Connecticut), to online courses (University of Manitoba and SUNY at Oneonta), faculty profiles, career advise to students, etc.
¥ Research Centers and Institutes: These consist of sites developed by research institutes or universities. Documentary Educational Resources has a site that lists Marshall's San documentaries, and includes digitized photographs and video. The French National Centre for Prehistory has a site that displays Upper Paleolithic cave paintings from southern France.
¥ Museums: Some of the more visually spectacular sites on the internet consist of museum tours. Users can tour the Grand Hall of the Anthropology museum at the University of British Columbia and enjoy the material culture of the indigenous peoples of the Northwest Coast, or browse through exhibits at the Library of Congress on Vatican Renaissance documents, Russian missionaries in Alaska, the Dead Sea Scrolls, African American history, or the 1492 quincentenary.
¥ International Agencies and Government Sites: Some of the most valuable and useful teaching and research information is available at sites created by international agencies or government. The World Bank, World Health Organization, and the United Nations have two such sites. Access to U.S. Government documents and agencies are also available online.
¥ Specific Teaching Resources: There are specific instructional resources available on the web. The anthropology department at California State University at Chico has a site that takes students through the human skeleton, and Brian Schwimmer has developed an online tutorial on kinship and kinship systems.
¥ Courses: There are virtually whole courses on the internet. John H. Relethford at SUNY at Oneonta, for example, has built an online course around his text, The Human Species: An Introduction to Biological Anthropology. The online material includes text and links to other sites that contain information and tutorials.
¥ Home Pages: Finally, many individuals have established their own sites that contain, in addition to personal information, lists of favorite sites and other helpful and interesting tidbits. Lisa Mitton's homepage, for example, provides acecss to many sites dealing with Native American concerns.
Some Uses of the Internet in Teaching Anthropology
The most general use of the internet for teaching is for conferencing; that is, creating or using a site to discuss issues, present information, or request help. Email is the easiest part of the internet to use for this purpose. You can, for example, create a distribution list (a file that contains the addresses of all students in a class), and distribute it to students, allowing students to communicate directly to you and each other. Joe O'Neal at St. Edward's University posts a discussion question to his class at the start of each week to which students respond, and then respond to each other's responses. If you require students to write papers, conferencing sites can be used for students to read and critique each others' work. I was astounded at the improvement in student writing when I first did that, realizing only later that the improvement came largely from forcing students to revise first drafts.
Some people have put together reading groups on the internet to discuss specific books or articles, and which might serve as a model for class discussion groups on the internet.
You are likely to be able to find various mailing lists devoted to topics that you specifically address in class. For example, if you teach an area course, there are likely discussion groups devoted to that area. If you want to search all mailing lists to find those related to your topic of interest you can can at http://scwww.ucs.indiana.edu/mlarchive/.
I teach a course on Native Peoples of North America, and require students to subscribe to NATIVE-L, one of a number of discussion lists on Native Americans. Often students would begin each class with an issue that had been raised on the list. If you do require students to subscribe to a list, it is a good idea to inform the list owner.
You can also develop special sites designed specifically for classes and conferences. Steve Malikowski maintains a site (http://nickel.ucs.indiana.edu/~smalikow/courses.html) that contains free software for developing conferencing sites, as well as articles on using the internet in teaching. The free software is available at http://thecity.sfsu.edu/COW2/
Classroom discussion on the internet needn't be limited by time; for example, you can create what I call a legacy site where student comments, suggestions, and opinions on your course are stored on a server for students who will be taking the course after them.
Research and Data Gathering
Resources on the internet are also ideal for research and data gathering assignments. If you like to use group or collaborative learning techniques, the internet also provides students with the technology to communicate with each other on group projects, while avoiding the problem of conflicting class and work schedules, transportation, etc.
For example, students can be assigned specific countries on which they are required to collect information on population, health, food production and distribution, etc. You can also assign students specific problems such as hunger, environmental destruction, health, etc. Or they can be assigned specific cultures or cultural areas. Particularly valuable sites are those maintained at Australian National University on indigenous peoples (http://coombs.anu.edu.au/WWWVL-Aboriginal.html); PRAXIS (http://caster.ssw.upenn.edu/) that provides access to various sites dealing with economic development including the World Bank, the IMF, and United Nations agencies; the World Health Organization (http://www.who.ch), and the Index of Resources for Historians at the University of Kansas (http://kuhttp.cc.ukans.edu/history/index.html) that provides hundreds of links to sites literally from A-Z. The latter is a good demonstration site to illustrate for students the kinds of resources available on the internet.
You can also introduce students to resources on the internet by devising an internet scavenger hunt: provide a list of text, graphic, and even video items--a picture of a Haida canoe, the lastest population figures for India, an analysis of the conflict in Rwanda, etc.--and award a prize to the student(s) to first post the URLs of the items.
The key in successfully using the internet for research and data gathering is a concise and focused problem. To use a personal example, I teach a course on anthropological perspectives on global issues that explores, among other things, the effects of the expansion of global capitalism on different parts of the world. As one of their assignments I ask students to select from a list of corporations one in which they would like to invest, and ask them to follow its profitability over the course of the semester. In addition, however, they must prepare a brief paper on the social, political, health, or environmental cost of doing business for that corporation.. They obtain much of this information by accessing http://www.essential.org, a site that allows access to various sources (e.g. Multinational Monitor) dealing in one way or another with corporate responsibility and malfeasance. After completing the assignment, many students said they would never again use a product or service produced by their corporation.
The internet can be used to take students on tours that would be otherwise impossible. If you teach a course on Native Americans, for example, they can tour the Grand Hall of the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa, (http://www.cmcc.muse.digital.ca/cmc/cmceng/grandeng.html)and learn about Northwest Coast house structure or potlatching; or they can tour the exhibit at the Library of Congress on Columbus and the conquest of the Americas (http://lcweb.loc.gov/exhibits). Selecting the exhibit on "Inventing America" will provide students with such things as early maps and manuscripts. Or they can tour the exhibit on The Russian Church and Native Alaskan Cultures that contains photographs, manuscripts, and documents detailing the Russian colonization of Alaska and the effects on native peoples. Or they can learn about Paleolithic art or Christmas traditions in France and Canada at the French Ministry of Culture site (http://www.culture.fr).
The tours can be used to generate discussions or problems that can be discussed on email or on conferencing sites. A discussion might be designed to compare information at different sites (e.g. a comparison of Paleolithic art with art of the northwest coast), or to compare traditions of one culture (e.g. Christmas in France) with the student's own.
Video and film resources that are slowly being added to the internet will allow students to view subjects related to anthropology, and allow instructors greater flexibility in designing learning experiences.
The internet also allows access to specific learning resources. Brian Schwimmer's kinship tutorial takes students through the anthropological analysis of kinship (http://www.umanitoba.ca/faculties/arts/anthropology/kintitle.html), providing text, diagrams, and exercises to present the fundamentals of kinship organization. The tutorial also provides links to other sites, such as the 1965 ethnography of a Turkish village by Paul Stirling that is on the University of Kent at Canterbury site. It also contains a marvelous account of the kinship system of Ancient Hebrews as depicted in the Bible. This part of the tutorial provides direct links to biblical texts located at other sites on the internet.
Students can follow this up with a visit to Douglas White's site at the University of California, Irvine on the computer analysis of kinship (http://eclectic.ss.uci.edu/linkages/linkages. html). The site provides kinship data on such areas as Muslim elites in an Indonesian village, or a village in Gwembe Tonga.
If you are teaching a course in biological anthropology your students can access a tutorial on the human skeleton (http://www.csuchico.edu/anth/Module/skull.html).
For those of you who are particularly ambitious, you can develop your own course on the internet. An excellent anthropological example is John H. Relethford's biological anthropology course at SUNY at Oneonta (http://www.oneonta.edu/~anthro/anth130/index.htm). The course demonstrates the kinds of innovative instruction that can be designed using the internet. Each chapter (e.g. genetics, fossil record, primates, etc.) allows the user to view text and access other sites dealing with the topic. As you're examining the fossil record, you can directly access Andrew MacRae's site at the University at Calgary on geologic time scales, or while reading about primates access Primate Info Net to learn more about primates.
Gloria Bobbie and I have developed an internet course on global issues that enrolls students from SUNY at Plattsburgh, as well as students from other colleges, as well as Plattsburgh students who are studying abroad. I've also begun to use it for students who wish to pursue independent study. It is available at http://www.plattsburgh.edu/legacy. Courses such as this have the additional benefit of networking students from different parts of the world, and creating opportunities for a global exchange of ideas and perspectives.
Also, check out Charlie Urbanowicz online introduction to anthropology at http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/syllabi/Anth13/SYL_013-F95.html.
For more ideas on how to design a course on the internet, Steve Malikowski (http://nickel.ucs.indiana.edu/~smalikow/courses.html) provides direct access to over 100 examples of internet courses from various disciplines and Brian Schwimmer, Helen Bochonko, and Chris Sale at the University of Manitoba have created a site on Creating Web Pages for University Instruction (http://www.umanitoba.ca/centres/cherd/edu_tech/courses/index.html)that will take you through the whole process of creating a web page for your course.
Long Distance Learning
The internet can also provide innovative opportunities to facilitate long distance learning. Internet courses, conferencing, tutorials, and tours will allow students who do not have ready access to traditional classroom settings to benefit. Furthermore, the internet will allow the linking of courses from different sites. An anthropologist at an American university can team-teach a course with someone at an Australian or Brazilian university, or a single instructor will be able to link groups of students at different universities into the same course. As I mentioned above, our internet course on global issues (http://www.plattsburgh.edu/legacy) is used by SUNY at Plattsburgh students studying abroad, and can easily be used by students who do not have access to traditional classroom settings.
The above suggestions are, of course, only a sample of the kinds of things that can be done with the internet in teaching anthropology, and you undoubtedly can think of others that fit with your specific courses, pedagogy, and teaching goals. Furthermore, you are likely to discover other uses of the internet to help students. For example, the internet will likely provide an excellent medium for academic advising, providing students with access to information on careers in anthropology, and information and direct access to graduate schools. Some of the commercial internet services, such as America Online or Allyn & Bacon, Publishers (http://www.abacon.com) contain educational sites that contain information on advising, study techniques, etc.
One last thing. It is also important to keep in mind that when you require students to use the internet for course work, many will be doing so for the first time, and while they may be resistant at first, they will likely be thankful by the end of the semester. In my course evaluations where I have required the use of the internet, students universally praised the requirement, a tribute more to the efforts of my student assistants than to myself.
World Wide Web Resources for Anthropologists
The following list should be seen as tentative only; new sites are being quickly added and developed.
GENERAL INFORMATION ON USING THE WWW
Title: Introduction to the Web
Description: A hands on introduction to using the internet
Title: Introduction to Web via Archaeology
Description: A hands-on tour through the internet using archaeology
Some Search Machines
Title: Alta Vista Search Machine
Description: Excellent search machine
Address: http://www.altavista.digital.com/cgi- bin/query
Description: General search machine
Address: http://www.w3.org/pub/DataSources/ bySubject/Overview2.html
Description: General search machine
Description: General search machine
Title: Search for Mailing Lists
Description: Type in a keyword and get all related mailing lists
Title: WebCrawler Searching
Description: General search machine
Description: One of the most popular search machines
Email Discussion Lists in Anthropology
Description: A general anthropology listserver
Address: Send an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org with the message: SUBSCRIBE ANTHRO-L <your full name>
Description: Archaeology E-mail Discussion Forum
Address: Send an email message to email@example.com with the message: SUBSCRIBE ARCH-L <your full name>
Description: Linguistics E-mail Discussion Forum
Address: Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with the message: SUBSCRIBE LINGUIST <your full name>
Facts and Questions Sites
Title: Anthropology FAQ, Cameron Laird
Description: Some facts and commonly asked questions about anthropology
Address: http://starbase.neosoft.com/~claird/ sci.anthropology/s.a.FAQ.html
Title: Anthropology FAQ, Alan Lutins
Description: Some facts and commonly asked questions about anthropology
Address: http://www.nitehawk.com/alleycat/anth- faq.html
Basic Anthropology Resource Sites
Title: Anthropology Resources on the Internet
Description: One of the basic sites for access to materials on anthropology. This site will give you access to just about all the anthropology and anthropology related materials on the web
Address: http://www.nitehawk.com/alleycat/anth- faq.html
Title: Cameron Laird's Personal Index to Anthropologic Resources on the Net
Description: Another excellent site for access to anthropology on the internet
Address: http://starbase.neosoft.com/~claird/ sci.anthropology/index.html
Title: Ethnography Laboratory
Description:Access to Center for Visual Anthropology
Title: Guide to Anthropology Resources on the Internet
Description: Very good, user friendly guide to anthropology resources
Address: http://www.ualberta.ca/~slis/guides/anthro/ anthro.htm
Title: Internet Resources in Anthropology
Description: A general access site to anthropological resources
Address: http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/ LibInfo/SourcesBySubject/Anthropology/ antweb.html
Title: Jim Jewett's Language Resources
Description:Acess to many sites on linguistics
Address: http://www2.pitt.edu/~grouprev/ Language/
Title: Lisa Mitton's Home Page
Description: Good general access site, particularly to resources on Native Americans
Title: Sociology and Anthropology: Resources at SFU
Description:Access to anthropology resources
Title: WWW Resources in Anthropology
Description: Excellent staring point for access to anthropology resources
Address: http://www.w3.org/hypertext/DataSources/a bySubject/Overview.html
Other Research Sites for Anthropology
Title: Arctic Circle, University of Connecticut
Description:Information and exhibits on circum-polar cultures and peoples
Title: Australian National University
Description:Access to many social science sites and information on world areas
Title: Center for Visual Anthropology Ethnographics Project
Description:An excellent site on visual anthropology that includes photos and movie clips
Title: Center for World Indigenous Studies
Description:Geographically arranged sits to world areas
Address: http://www.halcyon.com/FWDP/ wwwvl/indig-vl.html
Title: Documentary Educational Resources
Description:Photographs, video, and information on visual anthropology
Title: Essential Information Webserver
Description:Material on corporate accountability
Title: Index of Resources for Historians
Description:One of the best research sites
Address: http://kuhttp.cc.ukans.edu/ history/index.html
Title: Institute for Global Communication
Description:Material on human rights and environment
Title: Population Resource Institute
Description:Basic information on population and demography
Title: Progressive Sociology Network
Description:Access to material on human rights
Title: Univ. of Mich. MLINK Program
Description:Social issues and social services
Title: Univ. of Virginia Social Science Data Center
Description:Another great research site
International Agencies and U. S. Government Sites
Title: CIA Fact Book
Description:Information on countries
Address: http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/ 95fact/index.html
Title: Library of Congress Country Studies/Area Handbook Program
Description:Access to country studies
Title: National Science Foundation
Description:Acess to NSF information and documents
Description:Access to various international agencies (e.g. UN, IMF, USAID, etc.
Title: United Nations
Description:United Nations on the web
Title: U.S. Census Bureau
Title: U.S. Federal Government: Executive Branch
Description:Talk to the White House
Address: http://lcweb.loc.gov/global/executive/ executive.html
Title: U.S. Federal Government: Legislative Branch
Description:Acess to Congress and congressional documents
Address: http://lcweb.loc.gov/global/legislative/ congress.html
Title: US Federal Government Agencies
Description:Access to U.S. Government Sites
Title: World Bank
Description:World Bank data and information
Title: World Health Organization
Description:Data and papers on world health issues
Museums on the Internet
Title: Canadian Museum of Civilization
Address: http://www.cmcc.muse.digital.ca/ cmc/cmceng/welcmeng.html
Title: French National Centre for Prehistory
Title: Library of Congress
Description:Library of Congress exhibits
Title: Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia
Description:Grand Hall of the Museum of Anthropology
Address: http://www.cmcc.muse.digital.ca/cmc/ cmceng/grandeng.html
Title: Oriental Institute, University of Chicago
Description:Exhibits and documents
Title: Peabody Museum, Yale
Title: Smithsonian Institution
Departments of Anthropology
Title: American University and College Homepages
Description: Acess to American Universities (with links to International sites)
Title: International College and University Home Pages
Description: Access to College and University Home Pages
Title: Carleton College
Description:Anthropolgy Department and resources
Address: http://www.carleton.edu/curricular/ soan.html
Title: Hunter College
Description:Department of Anthropology
Address: http://maxweber.hunter.cuny.edu/ anthro/bookmark.html
Title: Kansas State University
Title: Lewis and Clark College
Description:Anthropology Department and Resources for Majors
Address: http://www.lclark.edu/COLLEGE/ CATAL/SOAN/soannmaj.html
Title: Mankato State University
Description:Antrhopology Department and resources
Address: http://www.lib.mankato.msus.edu/ Dept/310043.html
Title: Oxford University
Description:Institute of Cultural and Social Anthropology
Title: SUNY at Buffalo
Address: http://wings.buffalo.edu/academic /department/anthropology
Title: University of California, Irvine
Description:Anthropology Department and instructional resources
Address: http://www.socsci.uci.edu/anthro/ anthro.html
Title: University of Connecticut
Description:Excellent archaeology site
Title: University of Georgia
Title: University of Kent
Description:Anthropological resources at the University of Kent
Title: University of Manitoba
Description:Anthropology Department and educational resources
Address: http://www.umanitoba.ca/faculties/ arts/anthropology/
Title: University of Montana
Title: University of Waterloo
Address: http://www.socsci.uci.edu/anthro/ courses/rgarfias/robert1.html
Title: Western Connecticut State
Description:Anthropology and Social Science Departments
Address: http://www.wcsu.ctstateu.edu/ socialsci/antres.html
Scholarly Journals and Societies
Title: American Anthropological Association
Description:Main American anthropological professional organization
Title: Anthropoetics, An Electronic Journal of Generative Anthropology
Description:Journal devoted to linking anthropology and the humanities
Address: http://www.humnet.ucla.edu/humnet/ anthropoetics/home.html
Title: CAM Cultural Anthropology Methods
Description: Journal on anthropological methods
Address: http://www.lawrence.edu/~bradleyc/ CAM/html
Title: Current Anthropology
Description: Sample Articles
Title: Journal of Field Archaeology, Boston University
Description:Articles on archaeology
Title: Journal of Material Culture
Description:Journal index and articles
Address: http://dynamics.rug.ac.be/related/ material.htm
Title: Online Archaeology, University of South Hampton
Description:Email archaeology journal
Address: http://avebury.arch.soton.ac.uk/Journal/ journal.html
Title: Society for American Archaeology
Description:Papers and access site for archaeological resources
Title: Society for American Archaeology Bulletin
Description:Links to recent issue
Title: Theoretical Anthropology
Description:Largely student papers
Address: http://www.univie.ac.at/voelkerkunde/ theoretical-anthropology/
Title: World Journal of Anthropology
Address: http://wings.buffalo.edu/academic/ department/anthropology/j wa/
Teaching and Learning Resources
Title: Anthropological Linguistics
Description:Introdiction to the study of anthropological linguistics
Title: Archaeological Fieldwork Opportunities
Description:List of employment opportunities by area
Title: Kinship Tutorial
Description:Brian Schwimmer's kinship tutorial
Address: http://www.umanitoba.ca/anthropology/ kintitle.html