This link will take you to helpful background information on, and high-resolution images of, the Gutenberg Bible. Don't miss the “texts” link that takes you to two copies of the text for comparison. You can click through the Bible and zoom in on the beautiful pages. The “basics” section is also helpful, answering questions such as “Why is the Gutenberg Bible important?”
History teacher David Cutler argues, in this Atlantic article, that history teachers "need to do a much better job of connecting history to today." In the context of this collection, studying the Gutenberg printing press along with the personal computer, and possibly other new technologies would make the topic more relevant. Cutler stresses that the "connection to today" is made explicit and obvious to students at the very beginning of the unit.
I included this article in the collection because two of the list of seven ways that teaching has changed made me stop and think. Education as we know it is being disrupted by technology. What, exactly, can we offer tomorrow’s students, when so much information on any given topic is available on YouTube channels or through an online course or simple Google search? I think we all need to ponder this deeply.
The invention of the press was a huge historical event, and this two-week unit helps students understand the significance by studying it along with something they're familiar with: the personal computer. Students work in groups to create presentations that compare and contrast these two disruptive technologies. This unit of study would work well for either language arts or world history.
Disruptive technology, in this article and report, is defined as "advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy." The infographic in this report would be a great starting point for discussion or research. The 12 most disruptive technologies (projected for 2025) are listed in a table, along with a bar graph that estimates their impacts on the world.
Alon Hertzroni has created this short, unnarrated film that shows the quiet, focused dedication of a Tel Aviv printer who makes books the old-fashioned way. I can’t quite describe this film adequately, except to say that it conveys the extreme passion of the artist and his process beautifully. It’s worth showing as enrichment and food for thought. Is there anything in your students’ lives that they approach with this much dedication and precision?
This informational page from the University of Texas at Austin contains links to detailed information about the University's copy of the Gutenberg Bible. Your students can learn about the "nuts and bolts" of the press and how books were created in early print shops. This is a great resource, with lots of trivia and fun facts.
A well-produced History Channel video gives a quick overview of the significance of Gutenberg’s invention of moveable type and the press, while emphasizing the “big picture” of how the press disrupted publishing and changed history. The film gives credit to China for first pressing blocks onto inked characters, but credits Gutenberg’s desire for profit and mass distribution for mass literacy and true disruption.