Kick off meeting for ‘Teaching European History in the 21st century’ project

The project

EUROCLIO is excited to announce the kick-off of our new project; Teaching European History in the 21st century. This three-year project aims to respond to the needs of European Universities that are increasingly international by providing innovative didactic methods, and the development of innovative teaching materials.

EUROCLIO’s contribution

EUROCLIO will be working on the development of an online collection that will be uploaded in Historiana. It will be consisted of selected primary sources in the original language and English translations, clustered around important themes in European history. Also, the primary sources mentioned and described in the textbook, which will be published in the end of the project, will be made available in the form of online source collections, in their original form and in English translation.

Project leader and project partners

The project has been undertaken by Utrecht University, which is one of the oldest universities in the Netherlands since it was established in 1636. The Department of History and Art History is the largest department in the Faculty of Humanities and has a strong focus on international teaching and research cooperation. Furthermore, we have six project partners: The Autonomous University of Madrid (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid – UAM), which is a public university established in 1968, one of Spain’s most prominent higher education institutions. The Department of History at HU Berlin (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin), which is one of the largest and most diverse centers for historical studies and research in Germany.

University of Sheffield, whose outstanding record of research has been consistently recognized by external bodies and it has been ranked among the UK’s top three History departments for the impact and quality of research in the Research Excellence Framework 2014. Charles University (CUNI, Univerzita Karlova) in Prague, the oldest University in Central Europe, founded in 1348. Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE), a Hungarian public research university based in Budapest, which was founded in 1635. Last but not least; The University of Lille (UDL), a multidisciplinary university of excellence at the heart of Northern Europe.

Outputs

At the end of the project, the following outputs will be published:

(1) An open access textbook that reflects the multiperspectivity of European history, covering transnational developments and networks in early modern, modern and contemporary history. The chapters are written collaboratively by international teams of authors from at least four of the participating academic partner institutions to ensure a truly European perspective.

(2) A collection of online lectures functioning as introduction to the chapters of the open access textbook.

(3) An online collection of selected primary sources.

(4) A best-practice guide to the use of the above-mentioned outputs in the international classroom. This digital volume will be based on the experiences of testing the outputs by international teacher teams in structured learning activities that form part of this project.

Kick-off meeting

Our first project meeting took place this week in Utrecht University, in Utrecht, The Netherlands. During this meeting we had interesting discussion and dialogues about the aims of the project and how to effectively reach our goals while ensuring we make the biggest possible impact. We are looking forward to the next steps! Learn more at: https://teh21.sites.uu.nl/

3rd Transnational Project Meeting for Opening Up Historiana

Fani Partsafyllidou Project Updates

The 3rd Transnational Project Meeting for Opening Up Historiana project took place in the Hague, the Netherlands, on September 12th-13th 2019. The partner organisations: EUROCLIO, Stockholmskällan, Museum of Slavonia, Institute for the study of totalitarian regimes, and Webtic met in order to discuss the development of the project and further develop the strategy to successfully bring the project to fruition. Ideas for new eLearning Tools were discussed, followed by two feedback sessions on them. Also the group contemplated on Partner pages, Source Collections, and eLearning Activities.

The tool that provides visual source with accompanying text on the side was seen in practice by all project partners. The teacher can annotate glossary or other information on selected text, or highlight parts of it in various colours. The student can make notes or answer questions regarding the text and then save his work or send it to the teacher. Finally, the teacher can access the student’s answer. Teachers’ feedback on this tool was that, while engaging, it is not easy to use as long as they cannot correct students’ answers on spot. Therefore, it is considered noteworthy possible development in the next stages of the project to support a Reviewing extension. Similarly, a future possibility to consider is the option to download text and annotations in PDF form.

This meeting will be followed up during the next Transnational Project Meeting, which will take place on January 22nd-24th 2020.

* Project implemented with the financial support of the CEF Telecom Programme of the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA).

 

Sharing European Histories meets in The Hague

Veronika Budaiová Project Updates

In today’s diverse society, everyone has its own understanding or interpretation of historical events. The opening up of a space to engage with the dissonant and often conflictual nature of European history is the first step in discovering common positions or overcoming divisions while acknowledging these existing differences.

The Sharing European Histories project core goal is to develop innovative teaching strategies for educators across Europe, designed to help young people better understand the different perspectives and the complexities of our shared European past.

At this 2nd Meeting of the Sharing European Histories project, EUROCLIO director Steven Stegers emphasised the need to create educational resources and tools which that in fact will be used by teachers. The purpose of the meeting was three-fold: peer-review of the strategies, agreement on a plan of action in completing the strategies, and the peer-review of a new Historiana tool.

During the meeting all contributors had the opportunity to share their strategies with their peers and receive suggestions for the future development. Among the contributors were Helen Snelson (UK), Joanna Wojdon (Poland), Elisabete Pereira (Portugal), and Gentian Dejda (Albania). Helen Snelson introduced her strategy focusing on using life stories which teaches students about the complexity of the past. The strategy, addressing the period 1989-2000, incorporates an intergenerational dialogue that deconstructs the idea of what it means to be an eyewitness to the past. It encourages students to talk to people they know that have a story about the past and to take ownership of what they are learning by bringing together the lived past and what is talked about or what we are told is important. Her strategy relates these memories to maps and timelines to interrogate which parts are actually remembered.

The second strategy, designed by Joanna Wojdon, focuses on public history in wider society. It follows the historical path of Wroclaw by looking at historical plaques to see how changes and ethnic groups are represented; who is or is not represented? From which point of view are turning points memorialised? Where did the plaques come from and who put them up? Why are they where they are and for what purpose?

This strategy stimulates an awareness in students of the constructed nature of history and teaches them how to deconstruct the contemporary message. An element could be to find other commemorative elements (i.e. monuments or street names) in a city or town, or to assign students the task to construct their own plaques.

The third strategy proposed by Elisabete Pereira uses object biographies to foster curiosity for the complexity of the past. In this strategy, students looks at science and history. Scientists do not think in terms of nationalism or politics, but in terms of innovation and how this took place across borders. The last strategy proposed by Gentian Dedja looks at medieval figures that surpass ethic borders. The aim of the strategy is to critically analyse chosen historical figures and deconstruct historical narratives of “national heroes” claimed by different groups

The challenge for all the developers for the next step in the project is to make sure that their strategies can be easily adapted and applied across Europe and in different historical contexts.

The final item on the agenda for the meeting was to offer a feedback on the new Historiana tool. The purpose of the tool is to deconstruct historical sources by gradually revealing information. EUROCLIO’s Steven Stegers explained three ways for which the tool can be used: analysing images, tracing the history of objects, tracing the spread of ideas.

The team finally decided on the further course of action which will include finalisation of forms for stages 1-2 and preparation of a peer-review workshop where contributors will individually teach their strategies. The workshops will be a part of the 2020 EUROCLIO Annual Conference in Serbia.

 

Historiana: a new source collection on Medicine and Anatomy is now available!

EUROCLIO continuously works to improve its innovative educational platform Historiana. To do so, it has been collaborating with Europeana in the creation of source collections. The aim of this collaboration is to guarantee to teachers across all Europe the possibility to have free access to historical content, learning activities and innovative digital tools. We are now working on many new collections focusing on the Renaissance, and on how the ideas of the Renaissance fed into different disciplines (painting but also sculpture, cartography, music, literature, architecture, philosophy, and science), across different countries.

Newly available is the collection “Medicine and Anatomy” that focuses on how Anatomy and Medicine evolved as the scientific method gained prominence during the Renaissance period. This collection gives an overview of some of the key ideas that influenced medical thought, as well as of all the important thinkers of that era. The main purpose of this source collection is to give students the possibility to explore and understand the changes throughout Europe of how people perceived medicine and the human body, as well as scientific advancements. Ultimately, it helps students to pose questions about progress and declines of the Renaissance period.

Starting of cooperation with makers TV Documentary “In Europe Now”

Together with the VPRO broadcasting company and the VGN, the Dutch History Teachers Association, EUROCLIO is working on a new exciting project In Europe at School – History Caught in the Act. The project will result in an educational toolkit based on the follow-up of the VPRO series In Europe, made with Geert Mak, the author of the books on which both series are made. The new series will focus on the question what changed in Europe during the last twenty years.

As part of the project, students will make their own documentary on a topic from the series, which means they will have to do their own research on history and learn to communicate it to others. There will be lesson plans for the topics and tutorials on how to make documentaries. There are history lessons on the specific topic to show the continuity and change in, of example, migration. Furthermore there are lessons to show how to find this topic locally and how to research it in order to produce a documentary. The produced documentaries are shared with a partner school from a different country, which means that the students will see the same topic, but from an entirely different perspective.

The first meeting with VPRO’s Educational Coordinator, Odette Toeset, and the EUROCLIO authors of the lesson plan, Daniel Bernsen, Harri Beobide and Marian Heesen, took place this month at the EUROCLIO Secretariat in The Hague. The team agreed on a structure that could be used for all topics, and decided on the topics and key questions for the first two lessons. We are looking forward to work more with our partner and authors on this creative project.

The first lessons of the toolkit will be ready when the series airs in the end of 2019.

Webinar: Reading Visual History, Using Digitised History Sources to Promote Visual Literacy and Historical Thinking

EUROCLIO Project Updates, Uncategorized

In the final week of my residency at EUROCLIO, I delivered a webinar entitled Reading Visual History: Using Digitised History Sources to Promote Visual Literacy and Historical Thinking which was free for EUROCLIO members. The webinar took place on the afternoon of 13 May and was attended by participants tuning in from all over the world, some of whom were able to join us even whilst travelling home from work. We are excited about offering webinars more often as they are a convenient way to bring our membership together for professional development and discussion and this session formed a first step in this direction.

Visual Literacy

We began by discussing the importance of visual literacy and some general principles for analysing visual sources in the history classroom. According to Bristor and Drake, “visual literacy is a person’s ability to understand, interpret and evaluate visual messages, and in turn to use visual language to communicate with others.” While we all have some level of visual literacy, it is important that students develop the skills to critically engage with visual sources in their daily lives and in order to improve their historical thinking skills. Visual literacy can aid the development of skills like using sources, contextualising, and taking historical perspectives. It can also spark student interest and provide an alternative way to increase substantive historical knowledge in what is often a text-heavy subject area. Some of the general principles for supporting students to enhance their visual literacy skills include:

  • Work from the surface to the depths
    • Begin with what stands out in an image and then ‘read’ in greater detail, asking questions of the image along the way. Consider how factors like position, colour, shape, symbols, etc. serve to attract the viewer’s attention and communicate messages.
  • Describe and interpret
    • Ensure students are making clear links between exactly what they see in the image and what they interpret this to mean. This helps to avoid false assumptions, encourages students to always justify their interpretations and assists them in identifying how ideas and messages are communicated in visual sources.
  • Consider different perspectives
    • There are three important categories of perspective to consider when working with historical visual sources: the perspective of the creator, the perspective of the contemporary viewer, and the perspective of the present-day viewer.
  • Using contextual knowledge and captions
    • Contextual knowledge from both your teaching and image captions can support students to make sense of the image and identify the perspectives above. In some cases, it can be useful to withhold these until later in the analysis process in order to encourage more open ‘reading’ or to demonstrate the importance of context.

Using Digital Sources and Online Activities

The second half of the session focused on the use of online learning activities to promote both visual literacy and historical thinking skills. The example activities presented showed how digital sources, coming from Europeana Collections and curated for educators on our own Historiana website, can be used in different ways in the classroom. They were created using the eLearning Activity Builder with a focus on the ‘Analysing’ and ‘Sorting’ tools.

An activity using the Posters from Communist China source collection promoted deep reading of propaganda posters in order to understand the type of society the Chinese Communist Party hoped to create. The image above is an example of one of these posters, and you can see it is a rich source of messages about the ideal Chinese Communist society. The second activity, using The Visual Front source collection of official WWI photography, asked students to analyse and evaluate the strategies used in this photography to make the lives of soldiers look appealing. In presenting these activities, we discussed the advantages of online learning activities and some possible ways to integrate this into the workflow of the classroom.

Webinars

The webinar software allowed participants to share video and audio and therefore engage in real discussion throughout the session. This was a great way for us to connect and collaborate. EUROCLIO is keen to make webinars a regular feature for members so keep an eye out for information on upcoming sessions.

References:

Bristor, Valerie J., Drake, Suzanne V. ‘Linking the Language Arts and Content Areas through Visual Technology.’ T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education) vol 22, no. 2., https://www.questia.com/library/journal/1G1-16175245/linking-the-language-arts-and-content-areas-through.

Bridget Martin, EUROCLIO

Football Makes History* : Addressing the Inclusion of National Minorities

Agustin De Julio Project Updates

From the 2nd to the 5th of May, the 2rd Short-Term Staff Training for the Football Makes History project took place in Bucharest, Romania. The Training was organised by the Romanian Football Federation, one of the partners in the Project.

28 enthusiastic developers from all over Europe met in the capital city of Romania for this meeting, which focused on the inclusion of national minorities, both in football and in public life in general. Presentations on this topic, which is of high relevance within the Romanian context, were given by the Florin Sari, CSR Manager of the Romanian Football Federation, and by Ms. Lacziko Eniko Katalin, State Secretary for Interethnic Minorities.

During the meeting, developers presented the topics that they would like to touch upon in the educational material they are creating to each other (such as how to use football and football teams to teach the concept of border, on to promote the integration of refugees). Then, guided by EUROCLIO and the consortium partners, they dived into their materials, further structuring the activities and defining future steps to be taken.

Materials will continue to be developed during the summer, also by means of piloting throughout Europe. The Consortium and Developers will meet again at the beginning of November 2019 in Frankfurt, Germany, hosted by the Eintracht Frankfurt Museum.

In the coming weeks, we will publish a complete report on the Bucharest Short Term Staff Training: Stay Tuned to know more about the event and its results!

Read here the public report for the Bucharest Short-Term Staff Training.

* Project implemented with the financial support of the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union as part of the initiative “Football History for Inclusion – Innovative collaborations of school education and youth through the prism of local football history for social inclusion and diversity”.

Football Makes History*: Third Transnational Project Meeting in Bucharest

Agustin De Julio Project Updates

The 3rd Transnational Project Meeting for the Football Makes History project took place in Bucharest, Romania on the 6th of May 2019.

The partner organisations: Anne Frank House, EUROCLIO, Eintracht Frankfurt Museum, Evenzo Consultancy, Fare Network and the Romanian Football Federation, met in order to discuss the development of the project and further develop the strategy to successfully bring the project to fruition.

An evaluation of the Short-Term Staff training that took place from the 2nd -5th of May in Bucharest was performed, and specific intellectual outcomes of the project were discussed. Among them, the results of the survey for the Needs Assessment were analysed, the design of the Policy Recommendations was presented and the tentative design of the Public Awareness Campaigns were addressed.

This meeting will be followed up during the next Transnational Project Meeting, which will take place in Frankfurt am Main, during the 8th and 9th of October, in preparation for the subsequent Short-Term Staff Training, taking place in early November 2019 in Frankfurt.

* Project implemented with the financial support of the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union as part of the initiative “Football History for Inclusion – Innovative collaborations of school education and youth through the prism of local football history for social inclusion and diversity.

What do teachers have to say on debating controversial subjects in the classroom?



In the early stage of the Learning to Disagree project, Georg Eckert Institute researchers performed a needs assessment, to collect the opinions and input from educators on the issue of debate, dialogue, and discussion in the classroom. Six focus group discussions were held, involving 25 participants from 23 European countries. Based on the data collected, a survey was developed, which gathered information from 117 respondents.

A number of findings were made based on the data collected. Firstly, the inquiry identified a working definition of contested issues, which refer mostly to disputes based on competing, often irreconcilable values. Contested issues were mostly found in recent history, and were often of a national rather than international character. Concrete examples of contested issues teachers deal with in the classroom are both World Wars, Fascism, Communism, the Cold War, and migration, among others.

Participants of the focus groups and respondents from the survey identified dialogue, discussions and debates as tools of paramount importance in order to encourage students to deal with multiple perspectives on contested issues. The ability of educators to implement these tools is often hindered by factors such as a lack of resources representing different viewpoints, the duty of neutrality of educators, ingrained nationalism in society, and political pressure by authorities.

From the data collected, three main teaching approaches to contested issues were identified: the critical thinking, the “battling” stereotypes and the creation of empathy approaches. The critical thinking approach is based on critical assessment of sources taken from a variety of perspectives, underlining how different societal groups experienced the same events differently, and encouraging an understanding of history as a complex, multi-perspective discipline. Secondly, the “battling” stereotypes engages students directly on biases they may have. Students are confronted with the historical wrongdoings of their own social groups, and challenged on their potential lack of knowledge on minorities and other perspectives. Lastly, the creating empathy approach attempts emotionally engage students in order to prompt feelings of genuine interest and care, which will aid the creation of empathy in the classroom.

These findings identified in the Preliminary Needs Assessment will inform the creation of material for the next intellectual outputs of the Learning to Disagree project, such as the exemplar content the teacher’s guides, the training package and, eventually, the recommendations to policymakers.



“Sharing European Histories” Kicks-Off in Gdansk

From April 5-7, the Kick-off meeting for the Sharing European Histories Project was held in parallel to the Annual Conference in Gdansk. EUROCLIO partnered with the Evens Foundation on this project because both organizations believe that opening up a space to engage with the dissonant and often conflicting nature of European history is the first step in discovering common positions or overcoming divisions while acknowledging existing differences. On behalf of the Evens Foundation, Chairwoman Monique Canto-Sperber welcomed participants to the conference during the opening cermony, introducing the Sharing European Histories project.

The Sharing European Histories Project aims to inspire and support history educators across Europe since we find that history educators are uniquely positioned to engage young people in confronting the dominant national narratives of history to overcome the divisions between nations and cultures.Back in September 2018 EUROCLIO and Evens Foundation put out a call for applicants; from over 70 applications received, two project partner organizations and five individual contributors were selected to join the Sharing European Histories project team. Rounding out the project team are two teacher trainers, Richard Kennett and Iryna Kostyuk, who will work with the individual contributors to help them develop their projects.

During the kick-off meeting all the team members had an opportunity to introduce their project ideas. Individual contributor, Helen Snelson, from the UK, shared her proposal for an oral history collection on how people around Europe experienced the end of cold war. Gentian Dedja, from Albania, proposed a practice that explores local historical heroes in cross border contexts to demonstrate how historical figures can surpass national prejudices. Elisabete Pereira, from Portugal, proposed a study of the hidden history of objects that explores the life cycle of their development and circulation around Europe and the globe. Presented in workshop at the Annual Conference, Juan Carlos Ocana, from Spain shared his proposal for actives that help history and citizenship educators confront the complex issues of Jihadist terrorism and the rise of the radical right in Europe in their classroom. In another workshop Joanna Wojdon, from Poland, demonstrated her proposed resource which explores how the historical thinking concept of continuity and change in historical events and processes changes perception depending on different perspectives.

Our project partners also shared their proposed projects with conference members during the Marketplace of Ideas. Sonja de Leeuw from EUscreen in partnership with Maja Drabczyk from National Film Archive-Audio Visual Institute, Poland (FINA) and Karolina Dziełak from the European Network Remembrance and Solidarity (ENRS), shared their project proposal to develop interactive learning activates which explore migration in Europe using EUscreen’s large collection of digitized audio-visual sources. From the Croatian History Teacher’s Association (HUNP), Vedran Ristic shared the proposal for a project to investigate local material heritage and the personal stories connected to these materials from a contemporary global perspective.

The team decided that the individual contributors will spend the next year working with the teacher trainers to create a set of unified teaching strategies that form the basis of their proposed projects. These strategies will be peer-reviews and published on Historiana so teachers from across the globe can use them to teach history in a way that respects diversity, counters nationalist narratives, and promotes a critical enquiry about the past. Additionally, the individual contributors and project partners will be sharing the outcome of their proposed projects next year at the EUROCLIO Annual Conference 2020 in Serbia. Keep an eye out for further updates on this exciting project!