Wikis and Mapping in a 400-level French and History Class


Dr. Ellen McClure

Dr. Ellen McClure is Associate Professor & Head of French and Francophone Studies.

The Goal: To stimulate student research projects and deepen their knowledge of the period and their given topic.

The Tools: A Blackboard Wiki and Mapping (interactive maps created by the LCLC: contact us for information!)

The Assignment: Students were broken up into four teams, and each team was assigned one of Louis XIV’s wars. Working together, each of them worked on a separate aspect of each war:
Causes, Participants, Key Battles, and Treaty. They also used Google mapping to plot battles, treaty signings, and other events; they will present their work to the rest of the class at the end of the semester.

The Outcome: From personal experience, I know that Louis XIV’s wars, while crucial to understanding his reign, are mind-deadening if they are just read about. The wiki enabled students to research one small aspect of each war while relating it to the other aspects (as well as the same aspect in other wars). The students took personal ownership of the subject, and I can already tell their understanding of the conflicts is much, much better than if we had just read about them in books.
     The wiki pages are wonderful blends of text and image. Students were able to access different ways of organizing what they found in their research (one student realized that a timeline would be helpful; another made a chart of the participants in the war), and their research for the wiki has formed the basis for their final research projects. As one student noted after presenting her preliminary research, “I’m becoming very interested in the Duke of Savoy.”

McClure wiki screen shot

McClure map screenshot

To explore the map, click here. To find out more about using maps in your class, contact