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Commanding Heights
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  General Strategies

  Getting Started


Once you've selected the version of the site you are going to use, take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the key features of the site and with its general navigational structure by going to the site home page and clicking through to the main page of each of the major sections listed.

  Using the Storyline


Within Storyline, you'll find a general description of all three episodes on the Storyline main page, plus links to the episode chapter menus and transcripts. The chapter menus and transcripts will give you the fastest overview of the content and length of each individual video chapter. You can then play any chapter both to evaluate its effectiveness and relevance to the topics you are teaching and to test how smoothly it can be delivered to your campus or classroom computers via your existing Internet connection. If you prefer to display a full screen version to your class via TV, you can order the series on DVD or VHS tapes, and use that to evaluate the program on your television, avoiding the need to step through the entire program online, chapter by chapter.

In class, you can use the DVD or VHS version in conjunction with the site by employing the low-bandwidth version of the Storyline episode chapter menus to access related content links available for each chapter.

  Using the Key Events and Country Reports


Make sure to take a few moments to explore the Key Events timeline and its links, and the list of 41 individual country reports. Launch a sample report to see what these are like.

The reports differ from country to country in the amount of text information they provide across the complete time span. From one to eight categories of text information are available in each. The rich-media and low-bandwidth versions both contain the same complement of information for each country.

Particularly comprehensive, multi-category reports are available for such countries as the United States, China, Russia, Japan, the United Kingdom, Indonesia, France, Germany, India, and Argentina. Countries like Sweden, the Czech Republic, Turkey, Canada, and New Zealand receive a simpler overview treatment.

Statistical information has also been provided within all 41 reports. Up to 10 different economic indicators are graphed for as many years as there are reliable data available. All data used in the Country Reports have been acquired from either the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank.

One of the most powerful uses of the Time-Map and country reports is to ask students to compare relative outcomes from country to country under contrasting policies, and to try to formulate explanations for the differences they see.

  Using People: Interviews and Profiles


The People section of the site includes more than fifty complete interviews, and twenty profiles of important "economic architects" whose thinking shaped the modern global economy. The interviews were all conducted during production of the broadcast series, and are unique to this site. Many offer fascinating primary-source material about important global events as described by the participants who actually shaped those events.

Within People, take a look at the way the interviews are catalogued by name, profession, and country. Launch a sample interview to see how it is organized by individual topic blocks.

  Using Ideas


The Ideas section of the site can help students gain a more thorough understanding of concepts and events referred to only briefly in the film. For example, here you'll find a thorough explanation of Lenin's view of international capitalism, additional information about economic development in newly independent Third World countries after World War II, and a detailed account of Margaret Thatcher's re-privatization of Britain's state industries.

Also valuable within Ideas is a series of features called Up for Debate. Each Up for Debate feature pulls together contrasting views on a specific issue from the complete archive of interviews. These "debates" can help students develop a more sophisticated understanding of the range of interpretations that are possible for any given economic event or outcome.

  Using Search to Match the Site to Your Exact Needs


Once you have familiarized yourself with the site's navigational structure, the content of the video narrative, and the other features available, you can match the site's resources to your particular teaching need by using the Search function, available from every full-size browser page within the site.

Every asset on the site (including video chapters) has been assigned a set of keyword "meta-tags" related to its content. Each interview topic block, for example, has been individually meta-tagged for more efficient searching. Thus, you can type in a name, date, country, concept, or theme and see whether it is addressed substantively anywhere within the site.

You can also check out a (partial) list of the meta-tags used in building the Search function to get a sense of the editorial emphasis of the material as a whole. Try typing one of these terms into Search and look at the results returned.

Try inputting topics from your state's curriculum standards or from your own course outline to see what comes up that may be useful.

  The Case-Study Approach


One of the most effective ways to use the site with a class is to take an abstract concept like hyperinflation, price controls, or "shock therapy" and use the Commanding Heights site to explore its impact in the real world. You can often compare and contrast outcomes for the same policy or economic phenomenon in different instances.

For example, a search on "hyperinflation" will yield Country Reports showing numerous instances in several nations. Some of these are also covered in the Storyline video narrative. In addition, several essays on the phenomenon are available, including one by John Maynard Keynes himself, as well as an animated visual essay that dramatizes the rapid devaluation of the Weimar Republic's Deutsche Mark during the autumn of 1923.

Similarly, a search on "shock therapy" will yield 38 instances, including four video chapters that deal with the application of this reform technique in Bolivia, Poland, and Russia, plus five country reports that provide economic indicators that measure its results in other nations.

Country reports will enable students to compare outcomes according to several different indicators. In addition, a wide selection of interview topic blocks and an Up For Debate forum on the subject will illuminate the considerable difference of opinion that still exists about the effectiveness of this approach to economic reform.

Comparison of different cases can be worked into more comprehensive study sequences to promote higher levels of critical thinking about economic issues and events. The units listed below are included in this guide to demonstrate how this can be done.

Unit One: Introducing Economic Growth - broadband version | low bandwidth version
Unit Two: "Shock Therapy" in Latin America & Eastern Europe - broadband version | low bandwidth version

We invite educators who develop additional units of study on their own by utilizing this site's resources to contact us and submit their study plans for possible inclusion in later updates of this Educators' Guide.

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