Our hypothesis was simple enough: undergraduates would better understand a historic document online if, instead of having a traditional textual introduction, the same information was made available in bite-size balloons invoked by the users clicking on pins distributed throughout the document. Half the students had a pinned edition and half a more traditional one, while they all had several hours to explore the same eight-page crew agreement from the late 19th century. They then filled out quizzes, short answer tests, and went through an extensive debriefing. The results surprised us. Form made no difference whatsoever, none of the students understood the document’s content. We concluded their difficulty stemmed from living in the immediate, rather than in a temporally informed present, and so they could not fathom the profundity of the past.
>> Sad to say, the students in this experiment could not understand a document from the past. It does not bode well for living in the now, and moving into the future. What’s that quote, those who do not [know] remember the past….