To encourage cooperation between people working in the fields of education and cultural heritage, EuroClio has produced a case study providing insights into the use of online collections for and by educators. The case study is based on work done by EuroClio, historians and history educators from its network, who have worked to find and present over 1,000 sources from Europeana in more than 60 source collections, available at Historiana.
The case study aims to help cultural heritage institutions understand what educators look for while searching online collections, and how to make their content more accessible for education. These insights can help suggest the order in which pieces from collections can be digitised and help institutes think about reducing barriers to access.
On December 9th, EuroClio ambassador Helen Snelson kicked off the four-part webinar series on mastering the art of developing eLearning Activities on Historiana. By using source material on post-war Europe, Helen was able to create a meaningful and engaging eActivity for her students. In this article you find the tips and tricks on using source materials as evidence that Helen shared, and get ideas on how to use Historiana in your educational practice.
Historiana is an online portal developed by EuroClio, Webtic and UseMedia with Europeana for and with history and citizenship educators from Europe and beyond. On Historiana you can find ready to use learning activities, multiperspective historical content and digital tools that are all free to use, adapt and share.
What can sources teach your students?
The webinar started off with an insight in how using individual sources can instill a ‘sense of period’ with students. This helps them to feel more secure about their understanding of the past and make sense of historical people and events in a broader context. Helen demonstrated this in her eLearning Activity with a 1949 German election poster, generating a sense of the hunger and hardships, but also the future-oriented mindset of the time. Exercises using single sources to this effect can easily be made in Historiana’s eActivity builder using the question, analysing, or highlighting tool. Helen recommended assigning this eActivity as homework to prepare students for your classes, especially when in-class time is limited.
(Click on the image to watch) 7:12- 11:48: In this segment, Helen Snelson demonstrates how to build a ‘sense of period’ of post-war Europe using a 1949 German election poster.
Afterwards, the webinar concentrated further on using different sets of sources. Helen stressed how different sets of sources, such as maps, pictures, or objects, give us different types of evidence. By really engaging students in these different types of sources, they will discover for themselves what type of information these sets can give them on the historical topic at hand. The comparing and discovering tools in the eLearning Activity are especially suited for this end.
“Fascinating as we all are as history teachers – sometimes, students turn off when we talk at them […]. But actually, because they have really engaged with the source material, they are burning with questions which you can then help them to find some answer to, and their curiosity is aroused.” Helen Snelson
(Click on the image to watch) 13:40- 22:41: In this segment, Helen Snelson builds on the previous activity by contrasting the poster with a testimony of a French schoolgirl and demonstrates how to do this as an eActivity in Historiana.
What distinguishes evidence from sources?
When discussing sources in general, Helen pointed out that teachers also need to be very careful about their language, as ‘sources’ and ‘evidence’ are not interchangeable. A source is something a historian can use as evidence to say something specific about the past, but with widely varying degrees of certainty. It is important for teachers to confer the uncertainty inherent to the historical profession, for example by asking students what they can ‘infer’ from a source. When we start using multiple sources, we can show students that one type of source can be corroborated and connected or compared with other sources to create more valid evidence.
To demonstrate the limitations of sources when studying the past, Helen shared the metaphor of sources as ‘a window to the past’. We are all inside, in the present, looking at the outside world, the past, through the window that is available to us: remaining sources. And when looking out of this window, everyone notices different things. We might choose to focus on the other buildings, the trees, or a bird flying by. Helen: “If we looked through that window, we would all notice different things, because we are all built slightly differently and we observe differently.” As educators, we should remind ourselves and our students that sources are not a representative reflection of the past, they are but fragmentary remains. And when students get a handle on this metaphor, they start to avoid these oversimplifications that a single source would tell them a truth about the past and that’s that.
(Click on the image to watch) 36:25-37:54: How professional historians use source material to establish evidence and how to integrate this way of thinking in the classroom.
How to use sources effectively?
Helen also gave some helpful pointers to make the most effective use of sources in the classroom. By showing a well-selected source or set of sources, for example, you can demonstrate how new source material can overturn the popular view on historical events. She illustrated this by using a source that shows how the first shots in the First World War were fired outside of Europe, to overturn the entrenched image of trench warfare. Whenever possible, Helen advised to show the real source and not just a textual copy. This will train your students to pick up clues from context that otherwise might be lost. She further demonstrated how to use a Layers of Inference Diagram to teach students about deconstructing a source.
(Click on the image to watch) 47:02 - 50:41: How to use a Layers of Inference Diagram to deconstruct sources.
Conclusion: How to translate all of this into an eLearning Activity?
At the closing of the webinar, Helen explained how she combined all of her insights into an eLearning Activity on Historiana called ‘How does a historian use sources as evidence’ that she uses in her classroom. She then concluded with her expectations on the future of sources in history education: “I think what’s really exciting about history and history teaching at the moment is the wide array of sources that has been particularly driven by the young academic historians.” With the support of Historiana, you could train the next generation of young academic historians to engage with sources through your history teaching!
(Click on the image to watch) 55:08-59:30: What the final eLearning Activity using sources on Historiana looks like.
Want to learn more about using sources as evidence in the (digital) classroom? Watch the full webinar here: https://youtu.be/s3ThUq1hTDs.
This article is part of a webinar series, in which teacher educators who are experienced in using Historiana show examples of the eLearning Activities that they created, while also diving into a specific topic and discussing a critical thinking skill to teach students.
These events are scheduled next:
On February 17th, Bridget Martin (History Teacher, International School of Paris) will be focusing on the Contributions to WWI and talking about perspective. (register here)
On April 21st, Jim Diskant (History Teacher retd.) will be looking at Visual Representation of women (Thinking skill TBA). (register here)
On June 16th, Gijs van Gaans (Teacher Trainer, Fontys Tilburg) will be examining Schisms within Christianity and discuss change and continuity. (register here)
This article is written as part of the Europeana DSI4 project co-financed by the Connecting Europe Facility of the European Union. The sole responsibility of this publication lies with the author. The European Union is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.
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.
What kind of sources are history educators looking for? Why do they select the sources they select? Why are they not selecting the sources they do not select?
What are the search words that history educators are using? Which of the advanced search options are history educators using?
The findings of this research are briefly mentioned below.
Items with adequate, comprehensible descriptions are 58% more likely to be included in a lesson. Out of the sources that the teachers selected, 79% had a long, meaningful, and easy to understand accompanying text, whereas 21% had not.
The search keywords that the history teachers use are more abstract than the words that are found in the descriptions.
If an item has an adequate, comprehensible description, a history teacher can identify related historical concepts in short time.
Interactive ways of presenting the search results, namely in a Map and in a Timeline, are highly recommended by the educational community.
Europeana’s existing filters are highly useful for teachers.
An additional filter to search by historical period would be beneficial for 88% of history teachers.
96% of history teachers find filtering by country useful. However, 84% of them explain that, they need to search the place that the source refers to, not the place of origin.
Metadata regarding time, place, and people, have to reflect the content of the source, not the item itself as an object, in order to maximise their effectiveness in the study of History.
How is this research connected to Historiana and Europeana?
This research is part of the activity ‘Improving Discoverability’ of the project ‘Opening Up Historiana’, a Digital Single Infrastructure activity. 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. This research can be of great interest for the Digital Humanities sector.
Studied History & Archaeology, with an MA in Black Sea & Eastern Mediterranean
EuroClio is looking for front-end-developers to contribute to the development of Historiana, a progressive web application designed to inspire and support history educators to teach history in an innovative way, as part of an open source project. The main task is to develop the user experience of a new block in an existing interface that can be used in the eActivity Builder. The block is designed to help users analyse texts. The eActivity Builder makes it possible for users to create their own eLearning Activities in any language. The Building blocks can be used to create eLearning Activities. Each building block has its own functionality, and the different building blocks can be put in any order.
The development process, starting from a sketched design, includes:
The development of a prototype;
Processing feedback from partners and users at several occasions;
Delivery of a copy of Historiana with a new functional building block; and
Integration of the code in the main Historiana website.
The last step of the development process needs to be done in cooperation with Webtic, that has developed Historiana up to now.
All tenderers will submit a tender document, with a budget for the project and a time planning, as described above. As a general guide, a budget of 10,000 – 20,000 euro (including VAT) should cover all phases of development, management, operation and associated costs.
Working level of English.
Submission of complete tender (including itemised budget and timeplan).
Working knowledge of the Git version control system.
Interest to be involved in the development of Historiana beyond the scope of this tender.
Our selection is based on best value for money.
-Quality and relevance of the portfolio.
-Experience of working in open source projects.
-Experience of working in projects with multiple web developers.
-The willingness to be involved with Historiana beyond the scope of this project (please provide a short motivation).
We’re especially looking for people who are smart, get things done and are good in cooperation. E.g. people that know how important the team effort is.
Please send your offer (including itemised budget and timeplan), portfolio and CV to firstname.lastname@example.org before the end of business 15 November 2019.
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).
EuroClio and Europeana continuously work to improve its innovative educational platform Historiana. At the moment we have several projects contributing to these improvements, including the Opening Up Historiana project. This project aims to include a wider range of developers and partners in the web development of the platform, in addition to EuroClio and Webtic. At the same time we are opening up to our community of educators to involve practitioners in the decisions we make for changes and additions to the site. In that framework, we organised a feedback session on new ideas for the Historiana eActivity Builder. The session took place on Sunday 7th of April, 2019 as part of the EuroClio Annual Conference in Gdansk, Poland with 38 participants.
for the Historiana eActivity Builder
residence Bridget Martin presented three concepts for future possible tools for
the eActivity Builder on the Historiana website in sketch form and collected
feedback for each of these individually. The concepts were as follows:
The Annotating Tool which would enable the annotation of visual sources. This would
enable students to add an annotation in the shape and colour of their choice in
which they could type text according to teacher instructions. The tool would
allow for the analysis of a single source or the comparison of multiple
The Highlighting Tool which would enable the annotation of textual sources. This tool
would allow teachers to add textual sources of their choosing with which
students could interact. Students would be able to highlight sections of the
text in different colours and add written annotations which would appear like
‘post-it’ notes beside the text.
Support Buttons which would appear within each activity block (such as Annotating,
Highlighting, Sorting, Prioritising) and allow teachers to provide
instructions which students can access without losing sight of their
workspace. These three buttons would allow teachers to add contextual
information, instructions and questions for students to respond to.
majority the participants to this session were not very familiar with the eActivity
Builder, most indicating they had ‘never seen’ or only ‘generally seen’ the
tool with just a few having gone into the builder in the past. Respondents were
very positive about the usefulness of the proposed tools, particularly the Annotating
Tool which the majority indicated they would use in their teaching.
Teachers expressed a further desire to have the possibility of comparing and
annotating visual and textual sources within one activity. Teachers also
suggested the creation of a function which would allow students to
collaboratively annotate and respond in activities.
partners met in the margins of the annual conference to first prepare, and
later discuss the feedback collected. They agreed the collected inputs will be
taken on board in the next steps of the project. The proposed new tools will be
sketched in more detail, and will be part of an open call for web developers
that will be send out in April to find external web developers to create these
tools. At the same time, we plan to have regular (online) feedback sessions to
gather further inputs on the desirability and usefulness of the proposed
developments. If you are interested to join us, please send an email to the
project manager Judith Geerling (email@example.com)
and we will make sure you receive updates and invitations for feedback
On 5-6 November, the partners of the project “Opening Up Historiana” came together at the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes in Prague for their first transnational project meeting.
The project – which is coordinated by EuroClio – started on 1 October 2018 and involves four other partners: Webtic (Netherlands), the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes (Czech Republic), Stockholmskällan (Sweden) and the Museum of Slavonia (Croatia). These partners work with Europeana Foundation, who was also represented in Prague. They will work to improve the Historiana eLearning Environment and open it up by involving more developers in the webdevelopment and more partners in the creation, publication and sharing of resources.
The project will result in three new eLearning Tools for the Historiana eActivity Builder and the possibility for partner and member organisations to publish and curate resources on their own page. The project will also result in recommendations for the Europeana Initiative (detailing what needs to be done to ensure that history educators find what they need) and a business case that allows the project to grow.
During the first day the project partners familiarised themselves with each other, with the project and with Historiana: The partners, including Europeana, presented themselves and their organisations; Judith Geerling (EuroClio) presented the project outline; Nique Sanders (Webtic) presented the first sketches for the partner pages; and Steven Stegers (EuroClio) demonstrated how Historiana works, feels and looks.
The second day focused on the management and implementation of the project: The partners reviewed the partner agreements, discussed how cooperate during the project, and planned the upcoming meetings. As a next step, the partners will collect ideas for new eLearning Tools and start develop source collections.
In “Opening up Historiana” EuroClio will involve more people and organisations in the development and use of Historiana. It will be possible for third parties to publish and promote resources on Historiana and to develop eLearning Tools for the Activity Builder. The project will stimulate the re-use of the Europeana Collections because the improvements made to Historiana will make it more attractive for cultural heritage institute to offer access to their collections via Europeana. In addition the project will result in actionable recommendation that will help those organisations that provide content to the Europeana Collections help educators discover, and use source for use in education.
The Opening Up Historiana project aimed to
Improve the user experience of educators who create e-learning resources on Historiana;
Expand the functionalities of the Historiana eLearning Environment;
Create three new eLearning tools on Historiana eLearning Environment;
Open up Historiana to web developers and developers of educational resources;
Re-use sources from Europeana Collections for the benefit of educators and their students.
The consortium will work in the project to develop the following outputs:
Documentation for webdevelopers
Three eLearning tools
The development of new tools to the Historiana eLearning Environment will involve the project partners, professional webdevelopers and history educators. This output will further expand the functionalities of the creation of personal eLearning activities on Historiana. The three new tools that will be implemented in Historiana will result in three new blocks that will make it easier for the users to create eLearning activities using the historical content present on the Historiana eLearning Environment.
Partner pages on Historiana
Project partners will have their own page on the Historiana eLearning Environment. This will enable them to have a dedicated space on Historiana in which they will be able to publish their own eLearning activities in the language of their choice. The purpose of the development of partner pages is to make it possible for developers of educational resources, besides EuroClio, to create, publish and promote eLearning Activities. All project partners (Muzej Slavonije, Ústav pro studium totalitních režimů and Stockholmskällan) will work with the history educators from their network, to create exemplar educational resources on the Historiana eLearning Environment that will be used in their own educational setting, and in their main language of instruction.
Recommendations for Europeana
The purpose of this activity is to identify what can be done to help history educators find more sources that they can use in the design of (online) resources. The recommendations will provide insights on how creators of resources for the teaching and learning of history are searching for sources online. This will result in a list of recommendations addressed to Europeana and their content providers, which will give them inputs on how to better link with history educators and how to collect content in a way that it would be more adaptable and driven to education.
Post-project business case
The purpose of the post-project business case is to make sure that the outputs developed in the framework of the project will be sustainable in the future. The business case will result in a study mapping the needs of commercial publishers of educational resources and those of history educators who are interested in the use of IT to enhance their teaching practices. The business case will give EuroClio insights on possible way on how to keep Historiana sustainable.
For more information on the project and on the outputs, we invite you to have a look at the documents that we have created so far: