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Idaho State University

Historical Resources Management Graduate takes skills to Local High School Classroom

Historical Resources Management Graduate takes skills to Local High School Classroom

Jessica Donnelly, a recent graduate from the historical resources management program, has taken her education and experiences in ISU classrooms to the classroom of Skyline High School to teach history using unique digital strategies.

Donnelly received two bachelor’s degrees concurrently at ISU. The first was in secondary education with concentrations in history and biology. The second was in history. Her degrees, coupled with an interest in the use of digital technology in educational spaces, informed her passion for the historical resources management program.

“I am a huge supporter of using technology to enhance education,” Donnelly said. “I knew that if I could learn how to think about and use technology in new ways, that I could translate that into my future teaching with great success.”

During her time at ISU, Donnelly researched the Spanish influenza pandemic. Her fascination with history and biology intersected and allowed her to spend a portion of her student teaching internships teaching a unit on the microbial world, where she learned about the flu.

The lack of information about the flu made Donnelly curious, so she immediately started studying Spanish influenza. She was interested in the way the 1918 pandemic impacted advertising.

“In part of my research, I looked at advertisements in newspapers and the flu actually became a selling point,” Donnelly said. “It was really fascinating to see that health became this commodity because everyone was so terrified of the flu.”

Donnelly used the digital skills she learned while studying at ISU to map her research, including the spread of Spanish influenza. She created a website titled “History Goes Viral,” where her work has been made public.

Her passion for learning made Donnelly feel at home in a classroom, which helped her choose a career path.

“I would happily remain a student for the rest of my life, so teaching seemed like the perfect way to do that and still contribute to society,” Donnelly said.

Donnelly plans on using her digital history skills in her new classroom, including the ability to make maps, databasing, visualizations, using social media and building websites. She also looks forward to creating projects that allow her students to contribute to the History Goes Viral website.

“I enjoy taking a topic and making it as interesting to students as what’s happening on social media,” Donnelly said. “To do that, the digital history skills I acquired all become extremely important. I can say, ‘Let’s learn about this topic by making a website or an app,’ and give them content and technology-based skills, which students absolutely require.”


Written by Katie Damron, College of Arts & Letters Intern