EuroClio is looking for teaching practices that enable students to attain historical competences through the lens of heritage. The practice collection is part of the project Critical History, led by the University of Tallinn in partnership with three other European universities. Current discussions on heritage, and what we as a society choose to remember, cherish or commemorate, does not only help students learn about the past, it also forces them to think about the present and the kind of society we wish to live in. Identifying teaching practices in this field will be an important step in inspiring colleagues from across Europe and beyond to include heritage in their own history teaching and we hope you can help us!
Do you have a practice to share related to heritage in history education? Perhaps widening the learning environment outside of the classroom? Examples include teaching practices that aim to ‘bring history alive’ offering possibilities for students to experience and connect with history through tangible representations of the past, such as statues, monuments or artwork in the public space.
We are looking for practices that are low-cost and easy to replicate. Please contact Adriana Fuertes (firstname.lastname@example.org) with a short description of your teaching practice and we will reach out to you to set up a brief interview.
The collected practices will be made available on the EuroClio website in a blog format, with a selected number also included in a study guide published at the end of our project. Due credit will always be given to the interviewee. The overall aim of the Critical History project is to prepare future history teachers for a critical history education more attuned to the realities of 21st century societies. Identifying good teaching practices will be crucial for the success of our project and we thank you in advance for sharing your ideas with us.
In January and February 2021, EuroClio hosted the ‘Lest We Forget’ webinar series. In four sessions we focused on networking, practices and the relevance of remembrance education. The series was based on the RETHINK project. This article gives a brief reflection of the last session of the ‘Lest we forget’ series; the World Café focused on ‘How can we bring Remembrance Education to the classroom?’.
History education is learning about the past, while remembrance education is learning from the past
In the first discussion round, participants shared insights on the meaning and importance of Remembrance Education. Remembrance education was defined as developing critical thinking about the past while avoiding polarisation and drawing on a multiperspectivity approach. The need for connection and relevance to history curricula was emphasized while also managing feelings of both teachers and pupils in a constructive and positive manner. An educator mentioned that the younger generations are often far removed from realties of war, it is therefore important to remember to enliven difficult histories. Remembrance Education can be a tool to help students speak about difficult issues and to make events more tangible. It may help bring forth not only a national but also an individual identity as Remembrance Education helps with creating generational bonds or more broadly, meaningful connections between past and present. The role of teachers for Remembrance Education is multifold. Educators can help develop critical thinking and memory building as well as assisting in understanding more recent atrocities. Educators can help students realise dehumanisation was not only limited to the Holocaust, but has happened in many forms in many places.
Silence is a natural response to sensitive topics. People prefer to be silent rather than dare discuss controversial or unpleasant topics. However, when an entire generation can go without knowing what happened, silence becomes harmful to society and specifically to classrooms
Participants shared many reasons as to why it is hard to remember. Tensions may arise between narratives in the classroom and that of student’s family members. This can be related to generational differences but also to historical amnesia, the act of forgetting historical events. Students may look at the past through the eyes of the present as contemporary films, games and media may misrepresent historical events leading to apathy and desensitisation. Educators might be faced with a wide range of emotions from students. Students may react emotionally, show apathy, assign blame to others or become angry when faced with Remembrance Education.
Every perspective has blind spots. Only by changing your perspective can you see what you were blind to
After having identified obstacles, we discussed tips and tricks for educators when it comes to Remembrance Education. One of the main tools when dealing with apathy from students is to sensitise students to traumatic histories and experiences. This can be done by site visits, by the use of primary sources such as video-testimonies and diaries or by personal visits from survivors. Emphasizing ordinary experiences and feelings will help make Remembrance Education more relatable. Key is to open up dialogue, possibly through mediation, and involve the audience. One of the teachers mentioned Schindler’s List, the use of film can assist in airing dialogue. Educators may need to compromise with institutional or political pressures. Preparation and debriefing are crucial when talking about atrocities and genocides. A visit to Auschwitz for example should be paired with preparation beforehand and with a reflection afterwards as not to be overwhelmed by experiencing a traumatic history. A network of educators who are teaching traumatic histories to manage such emotions can also be helpful.
The focus of educators should be on teaching human values, not sole facts
This sentiment has come forward throughout the ‘Lest we forget’ webinar series. The opening lecture was given by Peninah Zilberman. As a child of Holocaust survivors, she talked about the inherent obligation to ‘Remember’. In particular, Peninah Zilberman confronted participants with issues, myths and responsibilities children of survivors inherit from their parents. The obligation to remember comes with difficulties and can be addressed using a multiperspective approach. In the workshop ‘Multiperspectivity in Remembrance Education’ we discussed the difference between memory and history and the use of various methods to explore differences with students in a way that respects their feelings and does justice to history. The use of video-testimonies in the classroom can be a tool to give voice to the stories of survivors of atrocities. In the workshop ‘the use of video testimonies in Remembrance Education', the genesis of video-testimonies was discussed as well as practicalities as where to find video-testimonies and understanding their potential for a learning environment.
EuroClio would like to thank the speakers and participants of the ‘Lest we forget’ webinar series and in particular the participants of the ‘World Café’ for sharing their experiences and insights on Remembrance Education.
Would you like to know more about the RETHINK project, it’s teachers guide, or the network created? Have a look at our project page. As part of the ‘Lest we forget’ series, EuroClio has created a resource booklet for all participants. Would you like to receive it as well? Send an email to email@example.com.
The virtual launch of the eBook “Contested Histories in Public Spaces: Principles, Processes, Best Practices” will be held on Thursday 11 February (18:00 – 19:00 CET).
During the webinar, hosted by the International Bar Association, participants will hear from the volumes’ co-editors, such as Dr Timothy W Ryback, Dr Mark Ellis, and Benjamin Glahn, along with practitioners and scholars.
The landmark volume is intended for policymakers confronting controversies over historical legacies in public spaces like statues, memorials and street names. It presents ten case studies and discusses their significance, interpretations and possible remedies – placarding, resignification and repurposing, to relocation, removal, or destruction. Iconic examples are disputes over Christopher Columbus, Edward Colston, Robert E Lee, and Cecil Rhodes, among others.
‘Contested Histories’ is a project developed by EuroClio’s research centre Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation in order to tackle these issues and offer a resolution to such controversies. As of February 2021, the project has identified more than 230 cases of contested histories in public spaces.
The registration for the webinar and other details can be found on on the IBA website.
International Day of Education: Celebrating with football history
The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed January 24th as International Day of Education, in celebration of the role of education for peace and development and highlighting how inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong opportunities should be available for all.
EuroClio’s own Football Makes History project keeps inclusive education at the forefront, aiming to help young people explore European history and heritage through the lens of football to tackle social exclusion. We look at issues of racism, gender & sexism, homophobia, migration, poverty & inequality, nationalism, war & peace – all through the lens of the world’s most popular game!
Our project – financed through the Erasmus+ scheme of the European Union – is now entering its final stages and we are publishing educational resources on a weekly basis. We’d like to seize the opportunity of the International Day of Education to showcase some of the ways our project can benefit you as an educator to teach an inclusive history.
In addition to these full-fledged lessons plans, we have also added another feature useful to the educator: The Football Lives. These profiles are not your usual hall of fame. While some football lives are heroic and have paved the way for inclusion, democracy and human rights, others have done just the opposite. Take for instance the journey of Alex Villaplane who went from sporting hero, captaining France at the 1930 World Cup, to being executed by firing squad as a war criminal and collaborator with the Nazi occupier in 1994! A traitor to some can of course also be a hero to others. One such figure is Jörg Berger whose footballing career stalled after he refused to sign up as an informer for the East German secret police, Stasi, before later escaping to the West. While celebrating great footballers with interesting backgrounds (hello Zlatan, Maradona, Rapinoe and Özil!), our life stories also point to some of the darker sides of football and football history. Robert Enke committed suicide after years of suffering from depression. Was football partly at fault?
A common feature of all these Football Lives is that they tell a wider story that could feature as part of a history lesson. To help you as an educator, we have included a few “thinking points” to each story.
Have you already used (or plan to use!) some of our lesson plans or life stories in your teaching practice? If so, we’d love to hear from you! (please get in touch with Andreas Holtberget at firstname.lastname@example.org!)
We finally invite you to follow our Football Makes History accounts on social media to get the latest of both news and educational material. Stay tuned also for a number of professional development opportunities that will take place online or on site in the Netherlands, Germany, Romania and the UK this coming Spring. EuroClio’s own webinar series on football history will kick off 28th May!
European histories are most prone to conflicting interpretations in places where national borders shifted repeatedly and local communities were uprooted or new communities settled in. To integrate these border dialogues in the classroom, EuroClio’s Sharing European Histories project supported efforts by the EUscreen Foundation to develop learning activities about borders and their significance in European history. The resulting educational project (Re)Viewing European Stories has now published three ready-to-use innovative learning activities, which make creative use of audiovisual content from the EUscreen and Europeana archives. The activities encourage students to widen their perspectives and provide better context to many events in twentieth century European history, making them useful for any national curriculum. Additionally, the activities put personal stories at the center of students’ engagement, promote critical historical thinking, develop media literacy skills, and give students and teachers the flexibility they need to adapt them to their own learning goals.
About the project
(Re)Viewing European Stories kicked off in October 2019, when a team of archival practitioners, historians and educators, as well as external experts convened in Warsaw to come up with ideas for engaging and interactive learning activities provoking critical thinking, while also using digital source materials and enhancing media literacy. The team settled on exploring the themes of migration and movement around three short films made by The European Network for Remembrance and Solidarity, one of the contributors, in their 2017 In Between project. The films investigated the dynamics of history and remembrance in three European borderlands, which suffered from big changes and upheavals in the twentieth century. By displaying oral history research in the chosen regions, the films allow students to engage with local and personal stories, before connecting them to the bigger historical context. The depicted borderlands include the Polish-Lithuanian border, where different groups of people have lived together for centuries while the borders drastically changed during 20th century, the Bosnian town of Mostar, which found itself at the crossroads of the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s, and the Catalan cross-border region, where many Spaniards attempted to flee the Franco regime at the conclusion of the Spanish Civil War.
The Learning Activities
In December 2020, the team finished their work and the completed activities are now freely available for teachers to use in their classrooms. All learning activities come with a premade package of learning materials, including information packs, step-by-step activity plans, and stimulating visuals. The intended age of students varies between 11 and 18 years old. The activities are initially designed for two lessons of forty-five minutes each, but can be adapted to suit any teacher’s needs.
Download the Learning Activities
The project’s learning activities have been published here under EuroClio’s educational materials or can be downloaded directly from the EUscreen Blog:
Visit the EUscreen blog for more information on the development of (Re)Viewing European Stories:
(Re)Viewing European Stories is coordinated by the EUscreen Foundation, funded by the Evens Foundation and supported by EuroClio as part of the Sharing European Histories project. The project brought together archival practitioners, historians and educators, as well as external experts from a number of European countries: Documenta – center for dealing with the past (Croatia), Borderland Foundation (Poland), European Observatory on Memories (Spain), European Network Remembrance and Solidarity (Poland and others), National Film Archive – Audiovisual Institute (Poland), Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision (Netherlands), with Jacek Staniszewski (Poland), a history teacher and EuroClio ambassador, serving as an independent education lead.
In 2019, EuroClio joined forces with Dutch public broadcaster VPRO for the development of an online exchange project for European schools - In Europe Schools. Inspired by the VPRO television series In Europe - History Caught in the Act on modern European history, EuroCio and VPRO, alongside a team of authors, created four Education Kits on Difficult History, Migration, Climate Change and Gender Equality. Part of the online exchange programme are documentaries made by students on their local histories, which they share and discuss with their peers from the partner schools. Students engage in research on their local histories and are supported by various Tutorials on Filming, Editing, Research, and Interviewing, in which the makers of In Europe - History Caught in the Act share their tips and tricks for making good documentaries.
Following a piloting phase in Spring this year, nearly 100 schools have just started a new round of In Europe Schools. EuroClio has taken a moment to reflect on the project with two teachers who successfully completed the piloting phase and are currently participating in the new round. and Anila Beshaj from Albania and Cristina Gila from Romania took a moment to share their experiences with the project.
What prompted your participation in the project?
For Anila, who worked on the topic of Migration, the making of the documentary was a specifically appealing aspect of the exchange project . Cristina, who worked on Difficult History, found out about the project during the 2019 EuroClio Annual Conference held in Gdansk, where In Europe Schools was presented. The collaborative aspect of documentary making and the exchange of ideas was of particular interest to Cristina.
Anila: The idea of making a short documentary was rather captivating. It was also instructive as the students (and I together with them) had to go through different phases (research on the subject, creation of some kind of script, carry out the filming), which was at the same time challenging, but also very interesting from the student/teacher point of view.
Cristina: I found the idea of involving students in a collaborative European project interesting. Young people exchange ideas, document themselves and carry out their own research. Also, the fact that the students assume different roles: interviewer, director, cameraman, to create a documentary seemed a challenge to me. We felt that learning through the project in history classes has a strong impact on the future training for the lives of young people.
How did your students experience documentary-making as a part of their history classes?
Anila: The making of the documentary was an interesting experience for the students. They had to combine socio-historical research and art which, in itself, was a new thing to them. They were very involved at a personal level and tried to find and use personal connections that might be of help in the making of the documentary. They were delighted when they saw the final product of their work.
Cristina: The project started in January 2020, so we had time to go through the materials, analyze and decide on the documentaries that we will make. By March, one of our documentaries was already finished. The students experienced documentary making by collaborating in different teams and working together on creating our final product. The video editors got to learn the different techniques in video editing, while the writers and researchers got to discover the stories of the people they interviewed for the topic. The participation in the project, for some students, was a chance to assert themselves, to come out of anonymity and to prove their personal talent or their passions (film editor, writer). Although they were enthusiastic at first, after some time a part of them withdrew as it took a lot of work and involvement. Those who retired were replaced by other school classmates, curious and attracted by the idea of making a documentary on a historical theme. Involvement in the project, documenting, creating interviews, filming and editing films were moments of learning, but also moments of relaxation for students - they appreciated the stimulating and collaborative way of working.
How did you experience the outbreak of Covid-19 and how did this affect the project at your school?
As the piloting phase of the project took place in the beginning of this year, the participating schools faced different challenges related to the global outbreak of Covid-19.
Anila: The Covid-19 experience was a unique one, as for almost everybody worldwide. The physical separation (due to the school closure) made the communication more difficult but they were able to fully use the technology to stay in touch, continue their work and get the final product ready on time. I believe that the difficulties helped, in a sense, making them more organized and attentive towards the challenges.
Cristina: Our school continued its teaching activities online. The second documentary was not fully completed, although it was in progress and the third documentary was never made. The students were not prepared for the activities at a distance, and this affected us all.
How did you experience the contact with your partner school?
Project participants are matched to another school in Europe for the exchange of documentaries. Right from the very beginning of the project, the pairs are introduced to each other and advised to get to know each other (and their students) as soon as possible. After the first introduction, both schools continue working on the project separately, and exchange their documentaries online, following a final moment of contact for reflection: How is the same topic approached from different perspectives? For most schools participating, contacting the partner school remained to be a challenge due to local lockdowns and restrictions.
Anila: I would say that the contact was rather superficial, just a few email exchanges - the pandemic weighed also on this situation.
Cristina: Since the beginning of the project we have cooperated with our Dutch partner, from Zeven Linden College, Linda. Linda created a common space in Google Drive, where we uploaded our students' materials: their presentations. We conducted a Skype meeting, where our students were able to exchange ideas and opinions with our partners.
What was the most challenging part of the project overall?
Anila: All the phases had their own difficulties. Of course, the film-making was a novelty for them and it took an important part of the preparation time. The research was, also, I would not say challenging but time consuming as they looked at a lot of materials and talked to different people in order to get a clear picture of the facts dealing with the documentary subject.
Cristina: The most challenging part of the project was the lack of equipment (as in good cameras, different lights and semi-professional software) that could've made the workflow so much easier. Our experience last year was really fun. We got to experience video editing and filmmaking for the first time, all while learning about our past.
Two of Cristina’s students were happy to share their own experience working on the project. Octavian (17 years old), worked together with his classmates on the history of Communism in the Romanian context and interviewed his grandparents. For Rares (15 years old), the project contributed to his personal development as he very enjoyed working together within a team.
Octavian: For me, this project represented a beneficial experience because I had the opportunity to work with some of my classmates. Also, I documented and I learned a lot of interesting things about life and about the priorities people had during Communism. I started my project activity by writing information that my grandparents told me about the Communist period. Moreover, the most important events from that time have happened during their youth. Also, I studied some materials with my teammates and we cooperated with Dutch students. I’m so proud of the effort I put in to achieve the desired goal and I'm glad I took part in this project!
Rares: This project was my first experience working in a strong team that overcame all the difficulties. I realized that I have managed to climb a new level in my personal development. I learned a lot with my fellow classmates, did the interviews and did the subtitles. The refusal of the elderly to answer our questions and to remember a painful history for the majority of the population was a challenge though. However, I am proud that the work done has paid off and our film has been appreciated at the European level.
Understanding History & Media Literacy
The overall aim of In Europe Schools is to contribute to the teaching and learning of modern European history from a transnational perspective, creating an (online) international working and learning environment for both teachers and students. One of the main learning objectives in this regard, focuses on the development of skills related to media literacy. In this case, media literacy is not merely the making of the documentary in terms of filming and editing, but perhaps even more so in doing research and reflecting on each others’ work. Conducting research on their local histories, students make use of different media (mostly on the Internet) and are challenged to critically reflect on the sources they use.
To see how the project has impacted students’ understanding of history and media literacy, the VPRO conducted a survey among the participating schools following the piloting phase. For most students, completing the project has resulted in an increased awareness and understanding of how history and the media framing of history can influence opinions. Even more so, 80% of the students indicated that their own views have been affected by the project and the documentaries they have made. Some of them state that, ‘’I better understand why migrants are fleeing from their home countries’’ or, ‘’I can see now that a lot of parts of European history have never been told (...)’’. The educational materials encouraged students to think about issues like: What makes a source reliable? How does fact-checking work? How does recent (difficult) history impact one’s own views and opinions? What role does the media play in forming views and opinions? In Europe Schools seems to have helped students on their way in exploring such questions and challenges.
This article was triggered by a new collaboration between the Contested Histories Initiative and students in ‘Narratives of the Past’ from France. Contested Histories is a multi-year project designed to identify principles, processes and best practices for addressing these contestations at the community or municipal level and in the classroom. As of September 2020, the project has identified more than 200 cases around the world with research conducted on more than 120 cases. Each case is catalogued in a database and added to a digital map. The long-term goal is to complete in-depth research on each case for review by experts, and create an online platform as a resource for a wide range of stakeholders.
Without research trainees and interns this feat would not be possible; collaborations with bright, motivated and dedicated students are the heart of the project. Research trainees come to the project from EuroClio’s traineeship programme, while research interns join us from associated universities. In addition, we welcome select independent researchers as interns and professional volunteers.
Which research organisations are involved?
Contested Histories (CH) is associated with a number of higher education institutions, namely Harvard University, University of Oxford and Erasmus University Rotterdam. Since 2017, more than 70 students--local and international--have taken on a research internship with CH and in doing so have made valuable contributions to the project. In December, we are welcoming an additional 22 students from the University of Oxford. This collaboration is integral to our project. Thanks to these engaged and bright young scholars, the project has grown enormously and has benefited from the various perspectives they bring. The diverse academic and personal backgrounds of research interns, as well as their language capabilities, are invaluable to our multidimensional and interdisciplinary approach to case study research and global mapping of cases.
What are our researchers working on?
Interns and the Contested Histories team participate in peer-review of completed cases, revising and updating where necessary, before a case is flagged for extended research and external review by experts in the given field. Several case studies have been published on EuroClio’s website. Launching the series of in-depth case studies in Spring 2020 was the Legacy of Cecil Rhodes at Oxford, written by Lucas Tse. At the time of writing, Lucas, a Rhodes scholar, was pursuing a Master's of Philosophy in Economic and Social History at the University of Oxford and is currently reading for a Doctorate in the same subject, also at Oxford. Additionally, the Legacy of Sir Stamford Raffles in Singapore, written by Wan Yii Lee, was published in Summer 2020. Wan Yii Lee is a candidate for the Master's of Philosophy in Development at the University of Oxford. Since completing her research internship with Contested Histories, she has been combing through archives and tracking local building histories in Singapore for her thesis on the politics of the built environment during the development of the nation-state. She's excited to start the second and final year of the MPhil soon, during which she will be taking more courses on development economics and the politics of global health in Africa. Most recently, the case study on a Statue of Robert Towns in Queensland, Australia by Sebastian Rees, a recent Master's of Philosophy graduate in Global History, has been published.
Why get involved with the project?
Joining the team of an international organisation presents a unique opportunity for young researchers. As an intern or trainee you will become part of a passionate and international team of a fast-growing initiative and receive individual support. Not only will you have the opportunity to build up your research portfolio, CV, and network, but you will also have relative freedom to choose topics or regions that are of personal or academic interest to you, As a global study the scope is vast, giving you the added option of exploring new interests--ranging from legacies of Japanese imperialism to toppled confederate monuments in the United States--with original research and editing tasks. Additionally, we offer an online work environment with flexible hours, ideal for gaining experience while adhering to coronavirus restrictions.
What do the interns have to say about their experience?
A conversation with Pierce, co-author of the upcoming case study on murals in Belfast.
What was your favorite aspect of your research internship with Contested Histories?
My favourite aspect of the research internship with Contested Histories was the freedom and trust given to us as budding researchers to explore pressing and sensitive topics. The atmosphere was hugely supportive, resulting in case studies that will hopefully give more exposure to these struggles around the world, and, moving forward, perhaps offer a more robust and nuanced framework as to how they may be handled.
How has your experience helped your professional development?
The experience has been highly beneficial to my professional development. Not only has it increased my confidence in my own writing and researching abilities, I also had the pleasure of meeting a network of energetic researchers and history professionals from whom I learned a lot.
How do you feel about getting your case study published?
It’s really an honour to have a case study published, particularly one so close to home for me. I’m very pleased to share the Belfast Murals case. As with every example of Contested History, it has its own unique set of circumstances, but it also concerns issues of history, sectarianism, economics and creativity that I believe are relevant to many other cases. I owe a lot to EuroClio, the IHJR and to Luke, the contributing author, who updated the piece.
Would you recommend doing an internship with Contested Histories? If so, why?
I would absolutely recommend an internship with Contested Histories. As we can see, these issues are not going away quietly, so to feel like you are contributing in some small way to how they may be handled constructively in the future is highly rewarding. In addition, the opportunity to work with a great team in a forward-thinking and thought-provoking environment was an invaluable learning experience.
Staying involved as a professional volunteer
Some students remain dedicated to the project even after their traineeship or internship has ended and continue as professional volunteers.
“Whether in the context of the West reckoning with its colonial past or former Soviet states reconciling antagonistic historical narratives to recover or reaffirm their own distinct identities, history has increasingly served as a flashpoint for conflict over the past three decades. I chose to continue working on Contested Histories as I believe its contribution to the field of memory and security studies is invaluable and will shape dialogue around information warfare and geopolitical conflict in years to come. The project is driven by a dedicated team of internationally-based researchers who push me to challenge assumptions, continuously learn, and refine my skill set. It goes without saying – I couldn’t ask for better colleagues.” - Katria
“My research internship with IHJR solidified my professional interest in historical memory and gave me the practical experience necessary to write my undergraduate thesis and pursue research positions in the field. I returned as a professional volunteer because of the supportive team and the opportunity to raise awareness about this relevant topic.” - Miranda
The passion and energy that display is truly humbling to our organisation, we are excited to see more and more people raising awareness about the complexities and consequences of public memory.
Interested in joining the team?
Are you a research organisation or university looking for new opportunities?
Are you a student or recent graduate with an eye on a future in research or an independent researcher looking for a new project?
Then Contested Histories may be the perfect project for you.
Internship applicants must:
Be in the final stages of their undergraduate degree or be enrolled in a Master’s of PhD programme with outstanding academic achievement, preferably in the area of history, international relations, or related fields
Proven research and academic English writing and/or editing skills
Fluency in English, additional language comprehension is a plus
Willingness to commit a minimum of 5 hours per week for at least 3 months
Willingness to join virtual weekly team meetings
Some knowledge of WordPress and database management is an asset, not a must
Submit your CV, letter of motivation and names of 2 references to email@example.com. Indicate also your availability to start, desired hours and duration of internship.
Interested research organisations or universities should email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
The project Learning to Disagree was presented in Italy during a National Training organized in cooperation with the Chair of History Education of the University of Bari (Apulia region). The training took place as a cycle of three webinars held in July and focused on strategies to implement learning in times of pandemic.
Speakers during the first two meetings presented resources and examples of tasks developed to foster active learning with students working through online platforms. The last session focused on the challenges that the emergency poses to traditional models of education and knowledge.
Video lessons and materials have been published in Italian on Historia Ludens.
Roberto Maragliano, former professor of Education at Roma Tre University, argued that there is a relevant difference between “physical distance” and “social distance”. Whereas the first one is necessary in our times, teachers should aim at avoiding the second one. He highlighted that the current state of crisis of school teaching in Italy could be an opportunity to revise some of its long-standing principles of inspirations. Italian schooling still favours upper general secondary schools over technical/vocational and primary schools, and keeps alive a conflict between humanistic and scientific culture, as well as verbal and non-verbal learning. Forced online learning put into evidence the pitfalls of this system. Although in the immediate aftermath of the Corona crisis the Italian teachers tended to take on the challenge and look for new approaches, in the following months a strong reaction has tended to debase these attempts. The long-term impact of this phase is thus difficult to foresee and might contribute to confirm an old education model rather than to overcome it.
Antonio Brusa, former professor of History Education at the University of Bari, stated that each generation tends to refer to a presumed former golden age of historical knowledge and identifies a cause of growing historical ignorance in its present time. Nowadays, online learning is taken as the cause of Italian students’ ignorance. Although he admitted that many Italian students were not able to take advantage of online learning, Brusa claimed that digital resources enabled millions of them to keep on learning. Thus, online learning should be seen as part of the solution. However, Brusa pointed out that using technologies and new media is not enough to innovate transmissive approaches to teaching and learning. On the opposite, teachers should be aware of the risk that the use of up-to-date digital technologies covers a very traditional, teacher-centred approach. Moreover, the use of technologies must base on awareness of the epistemology of the disciplines and specific aims of each lesson. These, in turn, depend on real pupils and students.
Mr Paolo Ceccoli, former EuroClio President, opened the first session by presenting the Association and its activities. This was of special interest for Italian teachers because there is not a single strong association of history teachers in the country. This a great occasion to present Euroclio activities in Italy.
Mr Valerio Bernardi, member of the core team of Learning to Disagree, described the aims and the teaching materials that have been produced. In the first session, he introduced and showed some aspects of the teaching guide and how the project developed during the years. He also presented the activities prepared from the core team and published on Historiana. During the second session, he provided a detailed presentation of the activity about migration and the Vlora case study (which will also be presented at the 2020 EuroClio Annual Conference, see link). One third of the participants expressed a will to use the material proposed in class next year.
Ms Lucia Boschetti, who is working on a PhD in History Education at the University of Bari, focused on playful learning in history. She stressed the importance of creative learning and presented an activity set up in the 16th century. It aimed at enabling students to understand the changes in the concept of citizenship from Modern Times to European citizenship through playing interactive stories. Moreover, she explained how the free programming language Scratch supports the development of computational thinking as well as of historical thinking. Indeed, by creating a project about the crisis of the 14th century by using Scratch, students have to ask themselves questions about historical relevance and causality.
Mr Cesare Grazioli, who has published several articles about teaching contemporary history in Italy, explained how he planned and implemented materials to assess students’ historical thinking skills when learning online. He proposed examples of both formative and summative assessment. Attendee particularly appreciated an assignment which required students to select, analyse and use images as evidence of contention regarding political and social problems in the aftermath of the Second World War.
75 teachers followed at least 2/3 of the course, and 63 of them answered a final survey. On the basis of the results, attendees were equally distributed between lower secondary and upper secondary schools and came from all around Italy, although the majority worked in Apulia.
The course aimed to offer an opportunity for training but also to create a community of educators wishing to exchange ideas, doubts and experiences. The attendee particularly appreciated this aspect. Indeed 94% of them declared that they would like to join other meetings to discuss about daily teaching routine with colleagues. A higher percentage agreed that digital resources can contribute to improving the quality of teaching and learning after the pandemic. As argued by experts, teachers can achieve this result if they can plan their lessons with an awareness of the aims and methods of history teaching. Otherwise, online teaching and learning are likely to strengthen the comeback of a purely transmissive approach to the discipline, which proved to be poorly effective regardless of in-class or on-line teaching.
Written by Valerio Bernardi, history teacher and member of the Learning to Disagree team & Lucia Boschetti, PhD candidate in History Education at the University of Bari
The online Historiana Teams meeting took place on 21st, 22nd and 23rd August 2020.
This meeting, originally scheduled to take place at the House of European History, was held online due to travel restrictions. The meeting gathered our historical content team (Andrea Scionti, Christopher Rowe, Francesco Scatignia and Robert Stradling), teaching and learning team (Bridget Martin, Gijs van Gaans, Helen Snelson, James Diskant and Sean Wempe), concept, design and development team (represented by Nique Sanders) as well as our partners in the House of European History (Laurence Bragard and Constanze Itzel). The purpose of the meeting was to agree on the mode of cooperation between the different teams and organisations involved.
To kick off the meeting, Constanze Itzel presented on how the House of European History dealt and is currently dealing with the Covid-19 crisis. Particularly, she introduced the work of the museum on documenting the crisis by the museum itself and by other European museums.
Then, the teams were introduced to the latest developments made by the concept, design and development team as well as the implications for their future additions on historiana. The team is working on the ‘analysis’ which will be brought back to the e-activity builder. The tool ‘sorting’ is being updated with the possibility for users to add their own background and add labels. A final improvement is the introduction of an ‘instruction button’ for teachers to help guide their students through the activities. After these improvements are made the team will further develop the concept of ‘narratives’ as a way to present new historical content on Historiana.
The teams then discussed a possible re-organisation of the content listed in Historiana’s ‘Historical Content’ section under broader topics and themes. At the moment, Historiana hosts a number of source collections (shorter collection of sources curated and put in perspective on one topic), units (bigger collection of sources and material organised around one topic) and key moments (bigger collection of sources and material organised around one time period) in its ‘historical content’ section. The material available on historiana is constantly growing, making it sometimes challenging for teachers to find what they need. Consequently, organising the material available according to broader topics and themes should not only make it easier for teachers to find what they need, but it should also help display the great content that may sometimes be hidden on the platform.
To conclude Saturday’s meeting, the group was divided into breakout rooms to discuss and test a better way of working together across the different teams. This was needed to make sure that all the resources are built based on the expertise of both history educators and historians. The different smaller groups each tackled a different Source Collection and discussed possible ways in which the content could be adapted to help educators use it in an eLearning Activity and focused on different historical and educational themes.
Everyone gathered again on Sunday to discuss the next steps of a professional development course that Historiana will provide, as well as how to best involve our community in our work.
The next steps of the Historical Content Team will be to complete the research on which content is over- and under-represented. In addition, the team members will work on the development of new content that will make links to existing content (such as a unit about migration and partisans) or will correct the unbalance (such as a unit on Pandemics).
The Historical Education Team will provide their expertise to the Historical Content team in the development of the four new Source Collections, create eLearning activities for Source Collections that do not have any yet, and work on a series of Webinars to introduce more people to the creation of eLearning Activities.
The Concept, Design and Development Team will continue working on the development of the concept of ‘Narratives’ to present content in better ways. They aim to introduce different perspectives about one event in order to easily give access to a truly multi perspective approach on a given topic. They will implement the feedback received on the ‘help’ button in the e-activity builder and further the development of the ‘instruction’ button, the Analysis tool and the Sorting tool.Overall, this meeting resulted in a better understanding of the next step of cooperation, and on the setting of the priorities for the next period. We will inform one when the next updates are available and meanwhile, do not hesitate to go look at our multitude of resources on historiana.eu!
How can we facilitate the use of Europeana's digital collections in History education? 6 Internal Site Search Recommendations
Each sector approaches our cultural heritage in a different way; an artist needs to find items with high resolution, or with a specific colour -- a history teacher needs to find items that are dated and curated. This means that search engine optimizations has to act differently according to the user's profession or to provide different filtering options specialized for each sector. Ultimately, the aim of the research is to provide insight on how Internal Site Search can be customised for History.
EuroClio worked on technical suggestions that will facilitate searching for historical sources in Europeana platform. These recommendations are based on the preferences and search behaviour of the educational community. To find these out, EuroClio conducted a field research on needs assessment.
The findings showed that the more contextualized an item is, the more useful it is for history education, provided that the item is of historical interest in the first place. In fact, Items with adequate, comprehensible descriptions are 58% more likely to be included in a lesson.
However, most objects do not have a description, which makes searching difficult. Meanwhile, the prospect of having all European items (48 million, in May 2020) curated by professionals is not probable in the foreseeable future.
Currently, stakeholders acknowledge the importance of curation, but find an obstacle in the perception that curation is not scalable, that millions of items cannot possibly be curated. This is exactly the issue we want to contribute solving in EuroClio.
In this research we will share 6 recommendations for new functionalities in Europeana's internal search engine that will result in automated curation. These new functionalities use the data we already have on each item, then process them and combine them, creating more information. Out of those 3 recommendations:
3 filters determine -> Is the item of historical interest? Is it curated?
2 functions enhance metadata
1 function improves sorting the results
This research is part of the activity ‘Improving Discoverability’ of the project ‘Opening Up Historiana’, a Digital Single Infrastructure activity, part of Europeana DSI-4. It is implemented with the financial support of the CEF Telecom Programme of the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) of the European Commission. The aim of the project is to promote the digital collections of Europeana from the scope of historical education. This research explores the preferences and the search behaviour of history teachers, which is a valuable element of the Needs Assessment. Its purpose is to make sure that the technological developments in Europeana and Historiana meet the current needs of the European educational community.