Local History, Technology, and 21st Century Skills

What are 21st Century Skills?

In recent years, "21st Century Skills" has emerged as a useful framework for defining the skills and aptitudes that Americans need in order to be academically, economically, and culturally successful in an era increasingly defined by information and technology. These skills include information, communications and technology literacy, critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, civic literacy, and global awareness.

Museums, libraries, and schools can leverage their participation in Maine Memory to promote the development of these skills within their organizations and communities.

The Opportunity

The basic process of contributing to Maine Memory—selecting collections and stories, digitizing material, and sharing it online—requires a few essential resources: basic technical skills, access to computer equipment and the internet, access to and knowledge of historical collections, and a desire to make local history meaningful, accurate, accessible, and engaging. The training and support that MHS provides is designed to help contributors find those resources within their community, and to develop the relationships, skills, and capacity needed to contribute to Maine Memory effectively.

Local History: A Gateway to 21st Century Communities

While many historical organizations are eager to participate in Maine Memory, they often need help. Participation creates rich opportunities for local organizations to come together, share resources, and to define a dynamic new role for local history in their community-one that is relevant, accessible, participatory, and meaningful. Consider the following roles organizations play:

  • Historical Organizations: Staff and members of historical organizations are eager to make their collections more accessible to their community, to work closely with local schools, and to participate in Maine Memory. They have rich collections, extensive knowledge about the community's history, and incredible stories to share. Participation helps historical organizations: (1) develop relationships and close working partnerships with schools and libraries; (2) increase awareness of and support for their organization within their community; and (3) learn to care for, digitize, interpret, and share their collections on the Web.
  • Libraries: Public libraries, the center and crossroads of information in many communities, can play a key role in local history projects, convening people, organizations, and resources. They bring professional staff, consistent hours, and a strong orientation to the general public. Participation helps libraries: (1) increase their capacity to serve as a key source for information about local history; (2) improve their technology skills; (3) serve as a catalyst in the development of significant new information resources related to the history of their community; and (4) deepen their relationship and interaction with schools and historical organizations.
  • Schools: Schools offer technology skills, up-to-date computer equipment and high speed internet access, and are often looking for meaningful projects that help students connect with their community and develop a variety of skills. Participation in Maine Memory provides students with opportunities to do research, think critically, write, collaborate with people of all ages, and to publish their work on a broad stage. The technical ability, skills, and labor they provide can make a significant contribution to their community. Participation helps students: (1) become actively engaged in their community, learn about its history, and play a prominent role in sharing that history; (2) develop research, critical thinking, writing, technology, and personal communication skills; and (3) achieve key academic goals and learning results.

There are many ways to participate, depending on your community's interests, goals, the material and stories you want to share, and the resources you have available. Consider participating, and learn how your community's past can help propel you into the future!