How to use this book

Open History Seminar: Canadian History blends old and new learning technologies to enhance how history students engage with primary and secondary sources. Structured like a traditional history reader, students are encouraged to use each chapter of the book as a holistic package, reading from the introduction, through each document, and then answering the discussion questions at the end. In this way, the seminar is just like books that have been used for decades in history classrooms. In fact, once our beta version has been tested and peer reviewed over the 2018-19 academic year, we will make the book available in file formats that allow for the Open History Seminar: Canadian History to be printed on demand.

The online platform, however, provides several important additions that make Open History Seminar more conducive to student learning:

  • Whenever possible we have linked to the original document so students can compare our transcriptions with the original text and read our selected text in its original context. For the most part, this has been possible because of the incredible work of the not-for-profit organization, Internet Archive.
  • Rather than linking out to digital material, we have worked to have it all hosted internally, so that users can annotate the site using After this introduction, on each page of this book, you will notice three icons in the top right corner of your screen. These icons allow you to annotate each page with highlighted text, marginal notations, or page notes. Instructors and teachers can create an account with to allow students to annotate in a course-specific environment where only students and their instructors can see the annotations.
  • The digital platform allows readers to use this resource selectively. Using a learning management system, such as Moodle, for example, students can navigate the textbook in whatever way is most useful for the curricular and pedagogical needs of a course. A class on Confederation, for example, might look something like this:Readings for this week: John Belshaw, Confederation and its Discontents; John Belshaw, Confederation in Conflict; Open History Seminar, Debating Confederation.

    Through the learning management system, then, students have direct access to all of their course materials and instructors are able to mix and match from a variety of open-access sources (in this case, John Belshaw’s pre- and post-Confederation Canadian History textbooks in addition to Open History Seminar).

In sum, with this digital reader, students can dig more deeply into the material and interact more directly with their own understanding of the material.

Because Open History Seminar: Canadian History is still in development, we would very much like the receive feedback from professors, teachers, and students who are using it in the classroom. Please send your feedback (no more than 500 words please) to Tom Peace ( and Sean Kheraj ( You can also submit your feedback using the review pages at the end of each chapter.

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