first_imgLast week, the USC Shoah Foundation launched the full version of its educational website IWitness after two years of beta testing. Focused primarily on interacting with students in middle and high school, the website is currently being operated in 58 nations around the world as well as in all 50 U.S. states.IWitness was launched in beta in January 2012 at the United Nations. That same year, the American Association of School Librarians designated IWitness as one of the Top 25 Websites for Teaching and Learning.Soon after its inception in 2012, the developing team worked closely with the beta testers, which included educators and students from different parts of the world. Improvements include at least three additional languages to broaden global access to the site. After analyzing the user feedback, the team made video additions to the template and refined the structure of the site.“Two and a half years later, the website is robust and full of content,” said IWitness manager Jenna Leventhal.The full-service educational website focuses primarily on interacting with  middle and high school students and contains more than 1,300 audio-visual Holocaust and other genocide testimonials from the Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archives. Each video contains the life story of an individual with a particular focus on the persecution they suffered.The Shoah Foundation has partnered with the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and the Rossier School of Education to introduce IWitness as a guide for future educators to teach about events such as the Holocaust, and to emphasize the importance of multimedia in a 21st century classroom. Currently, IWitness contains not only Holocaust testimonials but also interviews with people who lived through the Rwandan Genocide of 1994 and the Nanjing Massacre during World War II.Leventhal said that the primary vision of the program has been to inspire empathy in young adults. In addition, the innovative software of the program allows both educators and students to create personalized interfaces, which are not limited to video testimonials and custom lesson plans.“It allows students to reflect on what they experience through the program and relate it to similar but more current world affairs,” Leventhal said.The website’s capabilities are broad and designed to be user-friendly. The participating teachers are prompted to activate an account and add their students to a roster, which will record the students’ activities. Educators are then able to create tasks for their students that include customized lessons and video projects. The groups’ information and activities are kept private, but some educators have been so impressed with the results of implementing IWitness in their curriculums that they would like to share their success publicly.“Another very important quality of this program is that it teaches its user how to ethically construct a testimonial of such delicate quality,” said Josh Grossberg, public communications manager for the Shoah Foundation.Educators who choose to add the program to their curriculum can register at no cost and begin working with the program after a one-step registration process. The program includes all the content, training and tools necessary to efficiently operate the website.last_img