In this episode, we’re having a conversation with Mark Robertson, who is an instructor of history at several California community colleges, teaching American and World History. He focuses on historical memory, race and racism, US foreign policy, and critical pedagogy. His true joy in life is to assist and empowering the interested to better know themselves as learners and as a part of our larger human community. You can find him on Twitter @calhistorian.

We talked about:

  • Struggling to find the perfect tool on the journey to be a history instructor
  • Discovering Roam through the Tiago-Conor disagreement
  • The influence of the book, The Past as a Foreign Country, on our perception of history
  • Live-Roaming: Using Roam to teach students in college
  • Why he refuses to lecture, and the use of Socratic Dialogue


A big thank you to Dave Thackeray for our first review on the show! You can check it out here.

Check out the full transcript here


  • 3:48 Origin story: Almost failing and going to community college
  • 6:15 The Tiago-Conor beef
  • 8:11 Eternal skeptic, trying tools and avoiding web apps
  • 11:09 The meaning of ‘The Past is a Foreign Country’
  • 15:53 “The perception of our past is skewed in some troublesome ways”
  • 19:55 “I refuse to lecture” How Mark does Live-Roaming
  • 21:55 Socratic Dialogue and Project-Based Learning
  • 23:49 How can I help you answer these questions? Mark Robertson’s teaching style
  • 28:06 The willingness to say “I don’t know”
  • 30:51 Avoiding “Why am I here in class if I could just read the textbook?”
  • 31:51 Using Roam with a digital whiteboard
  • 34:29 The power of DEVONthink
  • 40:22 Any student can come to any of his courses
  • 44:30 Challenging the notion of “Roam ignores structure”
  • 48:33 [[How would you describe Roam to someone who hasn’t started using it?]]
  • 51:54 [[What does Roam mean to you?]]