Milestone Documents is an online learning service for high school and undergraduate classrooms in history and related disciplines. You can learn more about the team behind Milestone Documents by reading the profiles at our corporate site, Schlager Group Inc. As you’ll see, we are a group of liberal arts graduates and history nerds, professional editors and writers and researchers. To build this service, we’ve worked with hundreds of scholars around the world in addition to software engineers and web designers.
The focus of Milestone Documents is primary sources—the letters, legislative acts, court decisions, and speeches that have helped shape the world we live in. Our approach may be narrow, but the mission is profound: to help students hone skills in critical thinking, research, writing, and digital literacy. What follows are some of the principles that have guided the development of this service.
Primary Sources and the Importance of History Education
We believe that reading and understanding primary sources is central to the study of history. As such, we have sought to create a new kind of classroom material that places those sources front and center, not as an afterthought to a bland textbook. At the same time, we recognize that encountering sources from different time periods and societies presents unique challenges to students. Archaic language, references to obscure people and places, and dense texts all create barriers to understanding for even the most diligent learners. That’s why we commissioned a detailed layer of commentary and analysis to help students make sense of the sources. And it’s why we let instructors annotate the sources specifically for their own classrooms.
As every educator knows, teaching history isn’t really about imparting names and dates and events. Sure, those details play an important role in helping students understand context. But what matters more are the skills that a student learns while studying history: research, writing, critical assessment and thinking, pattern recognition, and drawing conclusions based on sound evidence. Building a history class around primary sources helps students hone exactly those skills. They are the ones that will help a student in an exam, in a job interview, and in life.
The Future of the Textbook Is Not a Textbook
Are digital textbooks here to stay? Are textbooks too expensive? Should educators be able to edit a textbook and create their own custom versions? Do students prefer printed textbooks to digital ones? When it comes to classroom materials, we think these are the wrong questions to ask. We believe that the traditional textbook is an antiquated, restrictive container that is ill equipped to help today’s students develop the skills they need for the future. Instead, we’ve created a service that takes full advantage of the power of the Internet and digital technology:
• It’s flexible, allowing educators to assign only the material that students actually need.
• It’s customizable, offering educators the ability to create a custom experience for their particular classes.
• It’s open to the Web, with inbound and outbound links and materials drawn from different sources and categories.
• It offers a personal, private learning space for each student, accessible from any device that a student might want to use—computer, tablet, or smart phone.
• It’s a living entity marked by constant improvements, additions, adjustments, and new features.
• It’s far more affordable than printed textbooks.
Read Our Case Studies
We've profiled several of the terrific educators who use Milestone Documents. In reading these accounts, you'll get a glimpse of the different ways to use our service in a classroom.
- Jonathan Rees, Colorado State University--Pueblo
- Eric Cunningham, Gonzaga University
- Karen Linkletter, California State University--Fullerton
- Pamela Laird, University of Colorado--Denver
We Welcome Your Feedback
Do you have questions or suggestions for us? If so, please send us an e-mail. If you are an educator or administrator who’s curious to learn more about our service, we urge you to request a free evaluation trial.