Finding a Free Online History Course

The options for quality, free courses and course materials are growing daily, seemingly exponentially. I’ve been on a quest over the last couple weeks to find not just quality materials but full courses that will challenge, captivate and not frustrate my gifted 10-year-old.

I’m looking for complete courses because I know I’m not organized enough and really have no interest in creating my own syllabus, assignments, quizzes, and exams. Luckily there are good options out there. One of the best places to start is the (Free) Online High School Courses & Curriculum Materials page on Hoagies’ Gifted website. Hoagies’ is an excellent place to start when researching most anything concerning gifted kids. Through their site I found the history class my son is currently using.

The history class is a high school AP History class, one of the University of California College Prep Open Access courses. It uses The American Pageant by Thomas Andrew Bailey, David M. Kennedy, and Lizabeth Cohen and America: Past and Present by Divine as its primary texts. Both are available on Amazon (new or used). We already had a copy of The American Pageant that he had been working his way through and this early in the course not having America: Past and Present has not been an issue. I doubt he will need a hard copy at all since much of the text is online and included in the course materials.

Why do I really like this course? It has a great mix of videos, online text, pictures, and original documents. Activities and writing assignments are directly tied to all of the above in a way that encourages the student to keep learning. The videos are relatively short, very engaging and stand well on their own, even for younger students who aren’t ready for a full AP History course. Topics covered in the course are laid out by units, lessons, and subject matter and it is easy to jump to a specific time in history, watch the videos, and work though the materials. This feature makes the course work well not just as a stand-alone AP class but also as an easy way to supplement other history courses and materials.

The only thing I do not like about the course is that it requires Flash so it cannot be used on an iPad. Perhaps in the future they will rewrite it as an iTune U class.

Although I don’t know if my 10-year-old will really be ready to take an AP History exam at the end of the class, it doesn’t matter. He is learning far more than he would in a regular elementary school or middle school history class. He is enjoying the depth and the detail and I am enjoying the fact that all this enrichment comes with little effort on my part. Shhhh 😉

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