National Council for the Social Studies Community Network
I read "history without reading" in its entirety and found it to be very interesting. I am currently a student at the University of Florida and am working towards a MA in social studies education. One of my courses is all about incorporating technology into the social studies classrooms. Many of the questions you raised above are questions that my class has discussed in quite some length.
Most everyone in my class is technologically savvy, and believes that technology should be used in the classroom in order to engage students and keep their interest. Why not incorporate blogging into the classroom? However, I cannot imagine a future of history without traditional reading. I think it is important for students to be able to locate, read and use primary sources. In my opinion, seeing the document in its real form is more appealing than seeing it on the internet. I think history teachers should use the web to teach history but should not forget about traditional types of reading. The internet offers many fun activities that can engage students in the subject of history, while keeping it meaningful and fun!
I've heard about how as we come closer and closer to contemporary times that there is less that will be written down or preserved in the same ways that they have been for the vast majority of recorded history. More information is now being transmitted or saved in the digital space and not on a piece of paper. Historians can only use the sources available to them so in this sense when students begin to study the 21st century it's inevitable that they will have to move away from the written letters, tomes or journals of past centuries and somehow have to decode a live journal, read important emails or a even decipher a twitter feed to find information.
Our use of technology has changed the way we communicate, and i'm not just speaking in the present sense, but these new forms of communication will affect how those in the future get to see the past. The way that our generation studies and learns history, whether that means finding primary sources in a library or in a digital archive, won't change drastically in my opinion when it comes to things like the river valley civilizations all the way to the 20th century because the sources we have now can only change in how we receive or look at them. Make the best interactive power point in the world about Ancient Greece if that will get students interested, but all of that information comes from stuff that was written down on a slab of rock or in a book somewhere. A historian 50 years ago may have studied a printed copy of the Gettysburg Address while I can now read it from a digital archive, but the source is still a formally written document and I would say it gets studied in a similar fashion. The fundamental shift will be when information is in forms that can only exist in a strictly digital sense like a forum or even a comment post such as this one. Maybe people don't consider reading a forum post "reading", but it still requires the same comprehension skills and if that is how newer history needs to be taught then reading will go away in the old sense of blocks of text on a paper. It'll become an interactive adventure through thoughts and words that were exchanged in comparatively real-time compared to the days of snail mail and messengers on foot. I'm sure lots of fun will be had trying to read these things with the terrible way people write on the internet though.