e-help Seminar 16 Looking to the future
Toulouse 17-19 February 2005
So far, ICT and internet has brought about changes in the way history is taught. Teachers and students are able to obtain large amounts of historical contents in a very short time. A few years ago, to get the same information would have meant to peruse tens of books at home or in libraries. John Simkin's Spartacus Educational is an outstanding example. My web site Historiasiglo20.org may be included in this sort of resources.
On top of that, we can get a much more diverse range of resources: texts, images, maps, videoclips, animations.... Teachers can also find lots of lesson plans to organise their work in the classroom.
The great amount of resources available on
internet and the abundance of low quality web sites made difficult for
teachers and students to carry out a significant didactic sequence.
Webquests were born to solve this problem. Their aim is to make students
focus on using information rather than searching for it. Webquests also
provide a model of collaborative work for the students. An example of
Jean Monnet's life and European History
However, in my view all those important new developments do not mean a
dramatic change in the way history is taught. Teachers and students have
at their disposal a huge number of resources that is available "one
click away", but I do not think that we have extracted from ICT and
internet all the advantages we can use for teaching history.
I would like to point out two features that we intend to work out at my
school in the framework of E-HELP project:
Some of the participants of this meeting are in charge of some of the
most successful examples of collaboration on the internet:
The Education Forum
Schoolhistory Forum and, in Spanish,
Foros de Debate, on Jose Luis de la Torre's Educahistoria web site,
are other illustrative samples of history teachers' forums. Some years
ago, it would have been unthinkable to have a virtual meeting point
where teachers may share ideas, resources, even some jokes.
There are a growing number of initiatives that try to bring together
schools, teachers and students from different countries. Web based
projects are undoubtedly one of the most powerful teaching tools in the
However, in the future, we have to go further. What about on line
lessons prepared by teachers from different countries? How enriching
would be to work with colleagues that come from different traditions and
styles of teaching!
Internet is globalising education and, therefore, students will learn in
a new learning environment. This change will go beyond students forums
and will be very positive for the most gifted and talented students.
History, the subject we teach, is one of the areas of knowledge that
will profit more by collaborative work. Traditionally, history has been
a subject strongly biased by nationalism. Classrooms have been places
where national prejudices and xenophobia were promoted amongst children
and youngsters. Europe knows a lot about it.
Students should listen to different voices and interpretations when
studying the past. Collaborative web based work can be an excellent tool
to improve our students' historical knowledge and critical thinking.
We have just started our project, but I would strongly like to set up in
the future a
Comenius Network that created links between HELP and other Comenius
projects focused in history teaching. A European history curriculum
would be an excellent outcome of that future project.
The Council of Europe has developed several interesting history teaching
projects on this matter:
Yet there is a serious lack of web resources to teach history from this
new collaborative perspective. To fill this void will be one of history
teachers' challenges in the next future.
Ramón Burgaleta -
PrincipiosdEconomia, Economics teacher at IES Parque de Lisboa, and
I are working on setting up interactive resources by using Macromedia
Instead of creating colourful and (too) imaginative new activities, we
would like to bring the traditional history teaching activities on the
internet, taking advantage of all the ICT potentials.
Our activities are not very refined yet, but we hope that over our three
years project we will manage to set up a sufficient number of useful
resources that cover most of the typical history teaching activities.
These are some of the activities we have been working on:
This Flash animation can help us to introduce the topic and motivate
students. Then, by putting links on it, we can create a didactic
sequence that offers our student different activities (texts, images,
maps, videoclips, mind maps) to study the theme in depth.
Textual analysis is a very usual task in Spanish and other countries'
schools. Here you can see a sample of a Flash animation which includes a
text to analyse, some guidelines on the task and boxes for the students
to write. The document can be printed.
This is just a preliminary version. Once refined, this resource can be
used for analysing images, graphics, videoclips...
We are aware that working with Flash Macromedia is far beyond most of
European history teachers' technological abilities. Trying to cope with
this problem, we have started creating some pdf files, far easier to
elaborate and very useful to assess students' work. This sort of
documents can be sent by e-mail to our students as home work. Their
reply will merely consist of the data written by then, a very light
file, easy to send back to the teacher, and then we can grade and
comment it by e-mail or at the classroom.