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Ben Walsh

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  1. I would very much like to add my voice in support of Richard. Anyone who has met him or seen his work cannot fail to be impressed by his passion for history and for teaching history. The positive comments from former pupils are an eloquent testimony to his qualities. Taking on the E-Help project ought to have been a source of prestige for the school as well as being a noble duty undertaken by Richard. Perhaps there has been some misunderstanding, perhaps other factors are at work. Whatever the background factors, if IST loses a quality individual like Richard the school will be a poorer place for it.
  2. Ben Walsh

    Beyond Multiple Choce

    Thanks for these points Chris, especially the one about the formidable cost of this kit. I think your online solution is a very sensible way to go. It ties in with a lot of the current mania for online polls, apart from anything else. It's also worth remembering that most VLEs will either have polling tools built in or should be easily adpated with add ons which allow you to do this.
  3. Ben Walsh

    Beyond Multiple Choce

    Beyond multiple choice A Historical Association project which is investigating the uses of voting handset technologies in school generally and in history in particular. • Context • Approaches • The HA Project • Progress so far Context There are three main contexts for the Historical Association setting up this project on the use of voting handsets in the history classroom. The first is the phenomenal spread of these technologies in secondary schools in England and Wales. At present there are 12 different systems in use across the UK as a whole. That alone is an indicator of the size and value of the market to manufacturers. They range in price from around £800 for second hand systems to £4500 for a class set. One of the reasons for their spread is that distributors of whiteboards usually have an interest in these systems as well and package them together. Clearly with such large investment going in to these systems it seemed appropriate to consider what use was being made and whether there were differences in different subject areas and between platforms. This brings us to the second context, which is the current evidence on how these systems are used. Having spoken to many students and teachers it is very clear that they are used predominantly for factual recall quizzes in a range of formats. In some subject areas this is well and good. However, it leaves many history teachers feeling a little uncomfortable on two counts. The first is the danger of trivialising our subject into simplistic yes/no answers or multiple choice tasks. Users of this forum have been at the forefront of harnessing technology so that it does not do this but the general use of Fling The Teacher and its ilk is often far from what its creators had in mind. The problem is arguably greater with voting handsets, and a flavour of the concerns was raised in a thread on the Schoolhistory forum June 2006 (http://www.schoolhistory.co.uk/forum/index.php?showtopic=7079&hl=qwizdom) – here is an extract Our Science department has just invested in a set of these and are raving about them. They showcased them in a cross departmental meeting and I raised the point about them being good for pub quizzes and recall of knowledge (which is all the Scientist cares about!) but not what we were trying to draw out from our kids in History. These things do not really test the skills we teach in History, although the Science department did not let on that you could do ranking exercises, as independent thought is not their forte! This does sound like a more positive use although perhaps not worth the grand plus that they cost to purchase The third context element is the perception of History. This is worrying, in England at least. We know that in England and Wales a large proportion of students give up History at 14. Research commissioned by QCA has shown that they do this not because they do not rate History highly. They generally see it as interesting and well taught. However, they do not see it as relevant to their later lives. One factor among many in this is that the use of handsets and other technology in other subjects creates an impression in student minds of these subjects as modern and relevant. The challenge for History teachers is therefore to embrace this technology without compromising the essential method of the subject. Again, this is familiar ground for users of this forum but it is a message which needs spreading. It seemed to the HA that a constructive use of voting handsets could be one small part of the wider solution to this issue of how students perceive History. Approaches The direction taken with regard to the project was to try and explore voting handsets as tools for student feedback rather than for testing student knowledge. The basic principle was to ask students not ‘What do you know?’ but rather ‘What do you think?’. Thus typical questions might look at issues and focus on sampling opinion, or even helping to form opinion. One example question was whether or not the Treaty of Versailles was fair. The options given to students were 1. Yes 2. No 3. Yes if you were on the Allied side 4. No if you were German The real function of this was to open up discussion, but the initial stimulus question encouraged all students to think about the question and to take part in forming the class’s opinion. The discussion was not dominated by one or two keen and articulate individuals. From this basic pedagogical platform plenty of other possible approaches were explored. • Counter factual history – or holding / recreating inquests, trials etc • Students deciding the direction of a story by advising an historical character at certain points in time • Decision making – if X happened, would you … or … • Instant ad hoc reactions to sources / stimuli (modelling thinking by suggesting which is the most appropriate reaction to a source eg acceptance, scepticism, value for a particular puprpose but not for another) • Video clips – what happened next? • Source analysis – does this source suggest, imply, prove … • Categorising events, causes etc • Relative importance of causes • Relative significance of events The Historical Association Project Taking these principles, the HA Project has enlisted a range of schools and colleges from across England but mainly in the North West and North East regions. The premise is simple. They will explore the ways in which they can use voting handsets to create resources and learning experiences which take students beyond the multiple choice quiz. The teachers have met once, and will meet again in March 2007. From that point they will then write up their experiences and publish the resources they created on the HA web site. The work will be free to all Historical Association members. Perhaps the most exciting prospect is the opportunity for a wide ranging participation. BBC History Magazine and BBC History Today have made their past online poll results available and are interested in holding polls which students and the general public to share in. The potential for students to vote in their own classroom, then compare their votes with votes of other classes, and other user groups in the general public should open up fascinating possibilities for debate and discussion abut the historical issue in question but also about how and why the opinions of different groups differ. Progress so far So far we have seen some interesting and stimulating ideas. Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of the project is seeing teachers enthused about using technology to good effect, as shown below … Period 7 Year 9 managed to vote twice on why slavery was abolished!! It needed the Maths voting set, two techies and the Head of Maths to sort me out but it was dead easy once it was set up and the kids loved it. I need another lesson to try it further. Does it store the graphs?? Triumph of the will! Teacher in Newcastle upon Tyne We have also seen examples in which the voting system has built student confidence. In an investigation into representations of Archbishop Becket we asked students to comment on how Becket was portrayed in a series of film clips and gave them some options … 1. Very badly 2. Badly 3. Average bloke 4. Well 5. Very well 6. I can think of a better way to say this The last option was taken up by only 7% of the sample, but those who voted this way were asked if they were prepared to explain their choice. Interestingly, in the next slide students were asked to comment on how Henry II was represented, and they were given the same option. In this case 33% of the sample chose the final option and offered up a better summary of the representations than those made available. Finally, in a very different context older students were asked to grapple with the thorny issue of whether justice was done at the Nuremburg War Crimes Trials in 1946. One of the difficulties with an issue such as this is disentangling emotion from rational analysis. In order to help with this students were given information about three figures associated with the Nazi regime – Heinrich Hoffman, Leni Riefenstahl and Julius Streicher. In each case they were asked : What would you do with him/her – 1. Let him go free? 2. Short prison sentence? 3. Long prison sentence? 4. Execution? What do you think happened to him / her? Students were then presented with what actually happened to each individual. The final follow up task was to write a judicial review analysing whether all were treated fairly. The follow up was, of course, a final vote on whether justice was done at Nuremburg. We can only scratch the surface in a forum such as this, so anyone who would like to know more about the project or would like to contribute to the bank of resources which is developing please feel free to do so.
  4. Ben Walsh

    Mastering the Moving Image

    Mastering the Moving Image Part 1 How digital technology has opened up new access to film archive sources In the UK, particularly England, considerable resource has gone into creating digital film archives. Just a small selection of these will include: • British Pathe (www.britishpathe.com) • BBC Creative Licence, Class Clips etc (http://creativearchive.bbc.co.uk/index.html) • Film and Sound Archive (www.filmandsound.ac.uk) • British Film Institute Screenonline (www.screenonline.org.uk) There are many more worthy candidates for inclusion in addition to the above list. The Internet Archive (www.archive.org) is a must for anyone teaching American history whether they want film or any other kind of archive source. Back in England again, the National Archives is gradually working away at its huge film collection. There are some gems in some of its mainstream resources such as The Art of War (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/theartofwar/films/) with films ranging from the stirringly patriotic to the somewhat surreal. The National Archives education site Learning Curve will soon be publishing Focus On Film, which will contain an archive of film with ‘biographical’ details about each clip, an online editing tool and a range of activities which combine film used as source material with other types of original sources. Thus, students will soon be able to play the role of WW2 censors. They will watch WW2 propaganda films, assess them against the British government’s own criteria for such films (provided in its original form) and decide whether or not the film will be fit to broadcast. The energy, commitment and finance which is going into such resources is surely recognition of the value of film in a digital format. In this digital form it is easily accessible to a wide range of audiences. It is also in a format which is easy to store, carry around and ultimately engage with in the process of authoring and re-authoring material. Richard Jones has already written most eloquently about the processes and pedagogy of digital video http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=5947 and it is not the aim of this seminar to replicate what he has already covered but to complement it. Here the emphasis is not so much on the digital video which pupils create and edit, but in looking at moving image sources as historical sources, just like text and still images. Moving image sources may well be interpretations in their own right as well, of course. In fact it is this area of thinking which is developing into an interesting new field in historical research, that of film history. Of course film historians have been around for a long time but their numbers are now increasing and film history is becoming increasingly an interdisciplinary field. This has huge potential for the history teacher, as cultural analysis techniques used by students of film are adapted by historians to develop new insights into film as source material. We have traditionally looked at the end product of film for its meaning and intention. However, film historians can point us to issues such as budget, exposure qualities of film types, mechanical and technological issues and even the funding source of the film maker which expand our understanding of film as a source and allow us to develop more rounded and sophisticated analyses. There are many excellent sources of reference for the history teacher interested in exploring the ways in which the methodologies of the cultural and the traditional historian can complement each other. Some recommendations are: BFI Education http://www.bfi.org.uk/education/ • Mitchell and Kenyon Teaching Notes (free) http://www.bfi.org.uk/education/teaching/mknotes/ • The Lost World of Mitchell & Kenyon (book) • Electric Edwardians (DVD) http://www.bfi.org.uk/booksvideo/video/det...nyon/index.html • Moving Images in the Classroom – really excellent free resource http://www.bfi.org.uk/education/teaching/miic/ Film Education http://www.filmeducation.org/ Resources and study packs based on latest film releases eg Oliver Twist (http://www.filmeducation.org/olivertwist/index.html) Useful books • Films and British National Identity by Jeffrey Richards (Manchester University Press) • History of Film by David Parkinson (Thames & Hudson) • British Historical Cinema by Claire Monk and Amy Sargeant eds (Routledge) • The British At War: Cinema, State and Propaganda 1939-45 by James Chapman (IB Tauris) Mastering the Moving Image Part 2 How digital technology has opened up new opportunities to work with film in the history classroom So how does all of this fascinating and worthy information help us as teachers in the history classroom? I would contend that it faces the history teacher with a heavy burden which will nonetheless be a welcome one. The burden is essentially that we need to make our students aware that film representations of historical events are not necessarily full and accurate accounts of events as they unfolded. In fact they rarely justify this description. Despite this, that is precisely what most young people (and older people) think film accounts are. In an age where the boundaries between media are becoming increasingly blurred, I believe that our commitment to educating our students makes it increasingly important that we attempt to instil a culture of critical awareness in all forms of media, not just the political cartoon and the source gobbet. So why might this be a welcome burden? In short, because it involves almost no shift in our basic practice. We can continue to get students to think critically about historical sources. The welcome element is that our sources now include film, arguably the most accessible format for most students. At the simplest level this is because in digital format film is now easy to store and retrieve. A CD ROM with a few choice clips is far more convenient than winding and rewinding through a VHS tape. In addition, digital media gives us crystal clear screen shots, or at the very least the image is clear and still when we hit the pause button. Better still, with clips digitised and placed on a network, VLE or web site the students gets his/her own TV player and can watch and re-watch a clip at his/her own pace. This was impossible before digital technology. So how to make it happen? There are plenty of interesting techniques to make students think about the nature of film as a document of the past. Attentive observation One of my favourites is a technique I call ‘Attentive Observation’. It is pretty simple – play a clip to a class, almost casually. Then ask them to work in pairs and recount every last detail, in the correct order. Ask some of them to act out parts of the scene. Then hold a feedback session, show the clip again and ask students to assess their own performance. I usually conclude by asking two questions: • How would you have performed as a witness in a court case? • Are you still sure that an eye witness testimony of an event is the most valuable and reliable type of source there is? It’s usually an effective way of getting students to stop and think about the nature of evidence. Another example used in the seminar was a clip which is available from the British Pathe web site. The clip is titled Adolf Hitler Assumes Bismarck’s mantle and its catalogue number is 695.31. In this clip we can ask the viewer to assess what it tells us about how powerful Hitler was in 1933. It contains familiar sequences of Nazi marches and Hitler campaigning. However, there is a fascinating sequence which shows Hitler’s first cabinet meeting. In our seminar we devoted a good few minutes to analysing his body language, the attitudes of the other cabinet members towards Hitler and the general impression he gave (which was of a man out of his depth). The clip allowed us to identify sequences which suggested strength and others which suggested weakness – just as we would ask students to work with a text. The final twist was to use QuickTime Pro (the upgraded version of QuickTime) to then select the contrasting sequences and paste them into a new QuickTime file, effectively using QuickTime Pro on video as we might use a word processor on a text. Such examples show us the importance of applying the same methods we use on text and image sources to moving image sources. Whether we are looking at the British Pathe collection, the US Prelinger Archive, German Archive video (http://www.dhm.de/lemo/suche/videos.html) or any similar resource. Film interpretations – the bumps in the carpet In this section of the seminar we used an analogy known as bumps in the carpet. If you lay a covering on a completely smooth floor then the new covering will also be smooth. However, if there are bumps in the original floor then when the covering goes over the bumps show through. If we apply the analogy to history, which is more appropriate? How often does an historian work on a topic or theme which has never been visited before? Consciously or subconsciously, previous versions of a story have an influence on those who write the next version. In a medium such as film this process is usually stronger and quicker than the accumulation of historical ‘bumps’. Study some film versions of Oliver Twist. In 1948 David Lean’s version of Oliver Twist created a dark world of mean, twisted Poor Law officials and a workhouse regime which was compared to Nazi camps. This image was then replicated in the 1968 and 2005 films. This is in stark contrast to what modern historians such as Professor Derek Fraser (The Evolution of the British Welfare State) say about the Poor Law: Most research suggests that when we look at the overall picture the authorities usually… gave relief (food, clothes, money) without forcing people to enter the workhouse. Indeed in the mid Victorian period something like 5 out of 6 paupers received relief without going into the workhouse. Novels such as Oliver Twist … created an image of the workhouse as an instrument of cruelty and of the Poor Law authorities as being determined on crushing the poor. When we look at the big picture there is little evidence to support this view. Paupers were better housed, better fed, and better cared for than the poor outside the workhouse. Poor Law officials were usually trying to raise living standards rather than make them worse. Where scandals occurred they were usually the result of local officials abusing the system. Perhaps it is not the end of the world if a film creates a distorted popular interpretation of an historical event. But I would argue that it is a very serious matter if students are not aware that a film can achieve this effect. It can be countered relatively easily by looking at the film and studying the ‘real’ history and analysing the motives of the film maker. But without the guidance of teachers it is hard to see how students will reach this level of critical analysis themselves. Documentary interpretations Finally, there is the question of how serious films might create and or perpetuate a particular view and whether our students are aware of this. We have seen the recent phenomenal success of the feature film length documentary The March of the Penguins. Most young people probably see this as a cute film about penguins. However, its success in the US has been at least in part rooted in the fact that a Christian Right element has decided that the familial strength of the penguins in adversity demonstrates, through nature, that the nuclear family is natural and right. How far is the leap from here to deciding that any other kind of social unit is wrong and then taking measures accordingly? We have seen Morgan Spurlock’s diatribes against McDonalds in Super Size Me play up their scientific credentials in order to support the attack on big business. The motivation is different but is there much difference in technique between this and the Nazi film I Accuse in which a doctor murders his genetically ill wife but is cleared in a court for having done the right thing. It is not hard to trace this process. Through Blackadder or films such as All Quiet on the Western Front we have seen the creation of the interpretation in which British commanders in the Great War were incompetent buffoons. How does this sit with the hundreds of thousands filing past Haig’s coffin in 1929 to pay their respects when the general died? This footage can be seen in the Pathe clip 714.31 Britain Mourns A Great Soldier. There are similar contrasts between portrayals of the Women’s Suffrage movement at different times. Latter day portrayals tend to be made by admirers of the movement. As a result they play up the bravery of the campaigners and the obstruction of the government in achieving women’s suffrage. A look at contemporary film suggests that the major opposition to women’s suffrage was public hostility but even more prevalent is the sense that the general public simply did not take them seriously and saw them as a fringe bunch of cranks. An excellent example of how a latter day layer has been placed over a film can be seen in the Pathe film 2261.01 Emancipation of Women . The opening 40 seconds introduce the subject and present us with the assertion that the women in the clips shown are more subdued. But are they? Watch the footage without the commentary and it is hard to see this. There are many more examples of approaches and insights which can be developed along these lines of course, and it would be an interesting exercise to start collecting them on the threads of this seminar.
  5. Ben Walsh

    School textbooks issue

    First of all, I think you are right to pose your question in philosophical terms rather than historical terms. There is already an important debate among academic historians about the nature of the subject itself. Whilst I would not perhaps go as far as hardline post modernists like Alun Munslow and Keith Jenkins in arguing that History is, in effect, literature I do think that most historians accept that most history reflects the cultural background of the author and the cultural environment in which he/she works. This cultural environment might take different forms, ranging from the relatively free expression allowed in western democracies to the tighter control of, say, Communist China. More significant in many cases, however, is the personal position of the author, as John suggests, or even a complex combination of these factors. James Loewen's brilliant study of US textbooks (Lies My Teacher Told Me - http://www.uvm.edu/~jloewen/index.html) showed that the real purpose of US history textbooks was to consolidate a largely White Anglo Saxon Protestant conception of American citizenship, and that to a great extent the authors were not directly pressured into writing this way but they felt they ought to. This book is a must for your study, but the USA is far from unique in seeing history as a subject whose role is to mould good citizens first and develop historical skills second. In the wider arena, it is often interesting to see reviews of history textbooks in newspapers. Books on relatively obscure subjects which the journalists know little about are often praised as fascinating or enlightening. Books which address an issue where the reviewer has some cultural stake (eg the Bombing of Dresden and whether or not this constituted a war crime) the books are often described as controversial or are even criticised. Returning to the question of objectivity, some historians like Richard Evans argue that there are objective truths in history and that empirical method can determine 'what happened'. I find this a bit hard to accept because I feel 'what happened' can only be described with any degree of confidence if the terms of reference for what happened are defined and are usually narrow. We can probably determine 'what happened' in an event such as the General Strike of 1926 in Britain, but only by selecting one event from the millions of little dramas in the days which made up that event. Even then, our selections bring the objectivity of our account into question. More importantly, how do we objectively address the fact that there were different perceptions and interpretations of these events at the time and subsequently? I found this issue most challenging in my book on Northern Ireland, where deeply entrenched views of past events collided every day on the streets. In that book, and in most of my other writing, I have tried to write narratives which explain that there were different perspectives on almost every issue at almost every time and that a school textbook cannot deal with them all. So, in my Modern World History, I tried to describe the origins of the Cold War as a two pronged story, attempting to show how the Soviets saw the West and the West saw the Soviets. Even here, I was imposing my own central idea that the Cold War was the result of the inability opf these two sides to appreciate the position of the other. Plenty of other historians would dispute that view. I do think that history in UK schools is generally more like academic history than it is in many other countries, but that the picture is changing. The Council of Europe is running a long standing project on history textbooks in former Soviet countries as these states re-appraise their history. This might also be an interesting source of information. Good luck!
  6. Ben Walsh

    Associate Introductions

    My name is Ben Walsh. Like many of the others in this discussion I have been approached by John as he feels I may be able to contribute something to E-HELP (reading these messages reminds me of the early part of the classic western movie The Magnificent Seven where the team is gathered together!). I was a teacher and head of history in schools in England for many years. In the mid 1990s I left teaching to work for a small educational publisher, which was where I learned my computer skills. I was given an office and a Mac – the training consisted of someone saying ‘here’s your office and your Mac’. From there I went back to teaching part time and now teach at Stafford College in the English West Midlands and the rest of my time was on a series of freelance projects. This included being one of the History Project Officers for the National Council for Educational Technology or NCET (which has now been renamed BECTA, presumably because NCET was much too clear and informative a title). This involved exploring the many different ways in which computers had been and could be used to help teachers teach history. We then published resources for students and teachers and did a lot of work disseminating our ideas and resources. I seem to have been disseminating ever since, running courses on how ICT can enhance history teaching all over the UK and a few in various parts of Europe and North America. I also spend a lot of time writing resources. As well as paper textbooks, I have been lucky enough to bump into many colleagues from various archives who have an interest in getting their material out to a wider audience and think that the electronic medium is the best way to do this. I have been responsible for many of the resources on the National Archives Learning Curve web site (http://www.learningcurve.gov.uk/). I was also one of the authors on the series of CD ROMs called ‘Sources In History’ produced by the British Library but now sadly no longer available. You will also find me involved in numerous other projects relating to digital archive materials, particularly the British Pathe web site. I am especially excited at the moment bny the use of archive footage along with digital video editing software to get students making their own history documentaries. I hope I could offer something to the project in terms of observations from the classroom, not just of developing and using resources but also the practical experience of being hampered by management and technical problems and hopefully a few strategies to get around some of these problems. I think my experiences in helping to bring archives to a wider audience might also be helpful.
  7. Why does digital video matter? Virtually all History teachers have their own video collection. Video is such a terrific resource for History. There is nothing quite so engaging for students as seeing actual events unfold. Moving images are extremely effective in conveying a sense of ‘being there’. Real people do real things, even if it is often in silence. Students get a feel for what it might have been like to have been there, because moving images convey body language, facial expressions, a hint of atmosphere. However, one curious thing about the use of moving image in the classroom is that there is often a contrast between the way it is used and the way other original source material is used. Teachers of History, Citizenship, Media Studies, English and many other subjects all look in detail at media products: * Text based reports are analysed in detail. History students are well versed in the art of hunting for and isolating examples of language which gives away the aims or background of an author and casts doubt on how far we can accept at face value what we are being told. * Photographs are scrutinised carefully for evidence of tampering. They are assessed in terms of whether they isolate a point in time and exaggerate an event or development in context with the events preceding and following it. * Cartoons are analysed to the deepest levels. Most history students can spot caricature, exaggeration and similar techniques, as well as being able to identify the messages being conveyed through these imperfections. Moving image is generally not scrutinised in the same way in our classrooms. It has traditionally carried an authority which in some cases is deserved, and in some cases is not. If we think about landmark television series such as The World At War or even many schools TV programmes in the 1980s and 1990s they were effectively radio programmes with moving pictures. The moving images were present solely to provide a visual representation of the narrative which had been written independently of those moving images. In some instances they did show the events being described in the narrative, but not always. We also now know that in some series distinct liberties were taken with the original footage. For example, in at least one series on the Great War certain pieces of film so that in the Great War British forces always fought from left to right and Germans vice versa. Rightly or wrongly, we have tended to ignore the fact that film is just as much an authored medium as those alluded to above. British Pathe newsreels have been manipulated by film makers, but of course they carry their own agenda as well. Pathe clips from the 1930s or the Great War might not be as blatantly manipulated as the news media in the Communist states during the Cold War, they nonetheless have an agenda and a message behind them. Technology has now caught up with our analytical skills and has given us the tools to tackle this source in new ways. Where to find digital video resources It seems fairly obvious that before we can exploit this new technology and achieve the lofty aims set out in the previous paragraphs then we need to know where we can get hold of digital video resources. Ad hoc access to digital video: PC TV and PVR If you are a little bit technically minded, you may wish to consider PC TV software. This involves a special card in your computer and specialist software. If you are buying a new computer this facility is sometimes provided as an option in the package you buy. Alternatively you can purchase a Personal Video Recorder (PVR) which plugs into one of the ports of your computer. These options allow you to receive TV programmes on your computer. You can also watch programmes from a VHS on your computer screen. You can save the programmes to your hard disk, take still shots from the programmes and with the right editing software you can create edited highlights. The great advantage of this is the ease of showing short clips from different sources. An increasing number of companies now supply this equipment. Two well established companies are Hauppage and Pinnacly Systems http://www.hauppage.com http://www.pinnaclesys.com/ British Pathe A far easier way to access large collections of digital video material is via the British Pathe web site (http://www.britishpathe.com/). This site contains a huge catalogue of thousands of news clips which start in the 1890s and end in the 1970s. It is easy to search and schools in England and Wales are able to access high quality clips without the watermark free of charge. This is one of the most exciting resources to become available to History teachers in many years. There is also an excellent support web site for Pathe called Shapes of Time. http://www.shapesoftime.net Hulton Archive http://www.hulton.com The Hulton Archive is a large collection of still images but also holds a large collection of downloadable moving images, with similar restrictions to British Pathe. As it is an American archive it is especially useful to schools examining 20th century American history. German Archive Videos http://www.dhm.de/lemo/suche/videos.html This site is similar in structure and aim to the British Pathe web site. It is all in German and so it can be a little hard to navigate, but perseverance will be well rewarded with a marvellous collection of archive material. Downloads are only available at preview quality, so can be a bit fuzzy. The National Archives Learning Curve http://learningcurve.pro.gov.uk http://learningcurve.pro.gov.uk/exhibitions.htm http://learningcurve.pro.gov.uk/onfilm.htm Many Learning Curve exhibitions contain moving image clips as sources. The Home Front 1939-45 contains a wide range of newsreel clips, information films and assorted morale boosting productions on a wide range of aspects of WW2. The new exhibition on the Cold War contains audio and video clips relating to many different aspects of the Cold War. They are primarily news based clips but they range from interviews with refugees from East Berlin to a North Korean film giving that perspective on the Korean War. In addition to the Exhibitions there is also a special section of the site devoted to moving image sources called Onfilm. Onfilm is divided into two main sections, a Film Archive and an Activities section. The Film Archive pulls together a range of clips from different sources and organises them under standard curriculum headings. BBC History As you might expect, the BBC has a collection of video clips relating to history. They are mostly from the Simon Schama History of Britain series. There’s no doubt they are well chosen, and the transformation of a modern church to its pre Reformation glory is worth waiting the time it takes to load up. It’s also one of the few places where digital video material relating to history is not solely confined to the 20th century. If you are looking specifically for video materials, then your best approach is to go though the History Multimedia Zone. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/multimedia_zone/index.shtml This index page will take you to the video collections and also the various animations, games, audio collections and other multimedia goodies on offer. Commercial Resources With so many free sources of digital video available it may seem wasteful to consider spending money n commercial resources. The publishers of such resources are aware of this, and have created products which add value to the collections of clips they hold. One way in which they add value is the higher quality of clip available on CD ROM as opposed to an online connection. Another is the provision of an educational pathway through the material and ideas for the use of the material. Channel 4 Clipbank http://www.channel4.com/learning/index.html Currently only on CD ROM but with plans to be an online service as well Nelson Thornes History Live http://www.nelsonthornes.com/secondary/his...istory_live.htm History Live is a commercial resource published by Nelson Thornes. It consists of a large collection of clips from the ITN archive on CD. It is organised into 12 assignments and accessed by a content management system. Digital video as a resource for teaching and learning Although useful, having access to collections of video clips will not teach any student or encourage students to think critically about moving images as a source. As with any other resource, digital video needs to be used in a planned and structured way. Activities using digital video Digital video is an excellent resource for starting off a lesson. It can also be useful in illustrating events and even attitudes in a way that reading or talking cannot. Obscure clips can be useful in puzzling and intriguing students and getting them wondering what the explanation is for the activity being shown. With careful questioning a teacher can use a small batch of digital video clips and a data projector to really good effect. Some possible questions are: * How realistic was the reportage? * What was the aim of the reportage? * What insight do films give us into contemporary values and thoughts? * How are/were films made? * What did the audience want/enjoy? * Is there more to archive film than moving wallpaper? * Compare the film with your own knowledge of the historical period shown. * How has the film added to your understanding of the period? * Do you think there is anything important that has been left out? * How does the film represent the main historical characters and groups? * Why do you think they were represented in the way they were? * Make a list of the advantages and disadvantages of the film as a resource for historians. * What do you think was the filmmaker's point of view? Apart from questioning, there are many different activities involving digital video which might be termed theoretical, practical or potentially either one. Activity Make a news report from the time Make a guide to using film sources Documentary from present day perspective (about the events, about the film) Demonstrate that film / history is a construct – take liberties Transposing styles of film making / reportage Create a storyboard from clips (reverse storyboarding) Analyse relationship between film and other sources in other media Would clip X be made today? Storyboard your own film Analyse a clip as you would any other kind of source Video diaries Add music, soundtracks etc Create film about specific events/locations Advise a company on the best clips to use for a film on Sell an idea for a film to Being a researcher Turn a talking head or other interpretation into a presentation In this instance practical implies that the students will be using editing software or some other software tool to create a product involving digital video, Theoretical implies that the students will carry out the same thinking and discussion which the practical task might involve but for whatever reasons it is not possible to create a video product. Hollywood and History One of the most engaging ways to make use of digital video is to get students to examine Hollywood films as historical interpretations. It is often possible to get hold of trailers and clips from web sites promoting the films or from the sites of movie enthusiasts such as Reel Classics. http://www.reelclassics.com/ It is important that using Hollywood film does not generate into a rather futile exercise in spotting minor continuity errors such as a Roman emperor wearing a wristwatch. These are undoubtedly entertaining, and indeed spotting a few such errors can be an excellent way of showing students what you are not looking for! An excellent source of such errors can be found at The Nitpickers Site because of the range of errors listed in the films and also because it is fully aware of how trivial the nit picking exercise is. http://www.nitpickers.com/ Oliver Cromwell and the British Civil Wars In this example, the existence of reviews turned out to be extremely useful. I was able to use digital recordings of selected extracts of two films. One was the movie Cromwell starring Richard Harris and made in 1970. The other was To Kill A King made in 2003. The extracts from these films were carefully selected to help students analyse a selection of reviews of the films. To begin with, the whole class looked at the first review which was very short and uncontroversial. Review 1: Review of Cromwell from the Movie site Movies2Go.Net http://www.movies2go.net/review/Cromwell.html Setting: Great Britain in the 17th Century Main Characters: Oliver Cromwell, King Charles I, Earl of Manchester, Queen Henrietta Maria, John Carter, Prince Rupert, Earl of Strafford, and Hugh Peters. Produced by Irwin Allen; Columbia Pictures Screenplay by Ken Hughes and Ronald Haswood Music: Frank Cordell Special Effects: Bill Warrington Special Categories: Academy Awards®; British Movies; Duels; True Stories; Rulers; Kings and Queens; Academy Awards®: Costume Design - Nino Novarese Academy Award® Nominations: Original Musical Score (Dramatic) - Frank Cordell The historical battle between Oliver Cromwell, the revolutionary and King Charles I has great cinematography but falls short on story. Students then worked in groups and were given a review to read and reflect on, and decide whether or not the review was a fair reflection based on the clips seen. Not surprisingly, few students quibbled with the first review because there was so little to quibble with. Then the fun started, using some fairly brutal reviews, extracts of which are shown below. Review 2: Review of Cromwell by Professor Blair Worden published on the Channel 4 History Heads site. The Rating scale was 0-10 with 0 being truly terrible. http://www.channel4.com/history/microsites...stcromwell.html RATING: 4 How much obligation lies on makers of historical films to keep to the historical record? How much fiction is permissible within the representation of fact? No cinematic description of the past, and certainly not one designed for a mass audience, could be expected to stay within the boundary of the known. The pace of fiction cannot be the pace of life. Complexities of chronology will need reduction. Buildings and landscapes that contained historical events have disappeared. Dialogue must be invented. Characterisation may need to be simplified. But elaboration and modification are one thing: perversion of fact is another. Claims for artistic licence could not warrant the wilful and almost unrelenting misrepresentations of Cromwell, which, whatever else it is, is not art, and which invites us to suppose, through a voice-over, that its account is historically authentic. Reviews 3-4: These were reviews of To Kill A King which were posted on the Amazon web site which was trying to sell the DVD of the film http://www.amazon.co.uk – then look up To Kill A King Review 3: This could have been a great film if the people in it had bothered to do any real research on the characters involved. Whoever wrote the screenplay should hang their head in shame for presenting this fiction as fact. This is the worst film I have ever seen on the English Civil War. Don't waste 90 minutes of your life on this one. Review 4: This was a fairly informative, straight telling of the historical events surrounding the trial and execution of Charles I, played in an engaging manner by Rupert Everett. However, it was entirely set from the perspective of Lord Fairfax, played by Dougray Scott and his depiction as the true hero of the civil war and a moderator of the more caustic Cromwell. As a result it presents Cromwell in a very unflattering light, well portrayed in a maniacal form by Tim Roth. The message seems to be that had Fairfax prevailed then England might have been better served, the king would have lived but the power of monarchy ameliorated. All this seemed to play down the immense transition wrought in European as well as English history by the vision of Cromwell. A scant message to this effect appeared at the end. Most teachers will see the fascinating possibilities which these reviews offer in terms of analysing the movies as historical interpretations, particularly the contrasting reviews of To Kill A King. In this exercise students were asked to study the reviews and suggest which scenes from the clips shown might be selected by the reviewers to support their case. This discussion was then followed by concentrating on Worden’s opening point in Review 2 about the intentions and responsibilities of the film maker. In order to support this discussion students were presented with a final review commenting on the wider issues of film literacy. An extract is shown below. It is very challenging stuff intellectually, but it does raise the critical issue of how we often invoke the past, or section of the past which suit us, in order to explain or justify a present day situation. Review 5: Extract from a review of Cromwell on the web site Popmatters.com http://www.popmatters.com/film/reviews/c/cromwell.shtml But although this interpretation of Cromwell is wholly invented, the number of history teachers posting enthusiastic reviews of this movie on sites like amazon.com and Internet Movie Database (imdb.com) suggests that Hughes' fantasy of Cromwell is alive, well, and ideologically active (maybe even in the classroom) … The susceptibility of contemporary America to this image undoubtedly comes from its persistent rewriting of its own revolution (in which an aristocratic oligarchy successfully paid lip service to the rights of all in return for the concentration of national power in the hands of the few, and managed to spin George Washington's return to his slave-run plantation into a resumption of life as a simple farmer) as a triumph for the "ordinary" American. In light of this, and given the current situation in Iraq, Hughes' willful remaking of the civil wars and revolutions in 17th-century Britain is a far more potent obfuscator of rational political debate today than it was in 1970. How did the Poor Law get its dark reputation? This last theme was also explored in this investigation into the the historical reputation of the New Poor Law after its introduction in 1834. Reputation is an excellent vehicle for making the study of historical interpretations accessible to students. Almost all students will understand that people they know, or perhaps film stars, may have reputations which may or may not be deserved. The Poor Law certainly has a grim reputation because of its associations with the misery of the workhouse. However, this reputation is somewhat at odds with what academic historians are saying about it. This became the basis for the ‘Learning Package’ set out below. Stage 1: * A simple surveyThis involved students asking family, friends, other students: * whether they had ever heard of the Poor Law, workhouses etc· what they thought of the Poor Law if they had heard of it. * if they could say where they got their information from Stage 2: Study of the views of a modern historian Here students studied the following amended extract from The Evolution of the British Welfare State by Prof Derek Fraser: Most research suggests that when we look at the overall picture the authorities usually… gave relief (food, clothes, money) without forcing people to enter the workhouse. Indeed in the mid Victorian period something like 5 out of 6 paupers received relief without going into the workhouse. Novels such as Oliver Twist … created an image of the workhouse as an instrument of cruelty and of the Poor Law authorities as being determined on crushing the poor. When we look at the big picture there is little evidence to support this view. Paupers were better housed, better fed, and better cared for than the poor outside the workhouse. Poor Law officials were usually trying to raise living standards rather than make them worse. Where scandals occurred they were usually the result of local officials abusing the system. Students were asked to ponder how this view differed from the popular view of the Poor Law and why this difference might exist. Stage 3: Study a clip from the 1948 movie Oliver TwistStudents had already used extracts from the Dickens novel as primary source material. In stage 1 they generally found that people had heard of the novel but generally because it had been turned into a movie! After watching the clip, students were asked to identify the ways in which the director had created a particular impression of the Poor Law officials and the workhouse. In this exercise a handy feature of digital video was the ability to pause a clip and get a clean view of the frame without the usual buzzing or jumping in the picture when a VHS recording is paused. These frames can usually be copied as well to create still images. The frame below shows clearly how the director was presenting a dark view of the workhouse. In 1948 most audiences would have connected this scene with the recent scenes of Nazi death camps in Eastern Europe. Stage 4: Study a clip from the 1948 musical movie Oliver TwistWith this clip students were asked to consider the ways in which the earlier film had influenced the later film. A detailed analysis made this strikingly clear. The Poor Law officials were recreated in very similar ways. This pointed to the ways in which the earlier film had laid down a popular understanding of the workhouse which was then reinforced by the 1968 film. Stage 5: A visual from the original edition of Oliver TwistThis final twist was designed to get students to see how careful we must be to avoid taking movies as factual record. In both the 1948 and 1968 movies Oliver Twist is invariably dressed in rags and is barefoot. In the illustration below from the British Library CD ROM Britain 1750-1900 the illustration from the book Oliver Twist shows Oliver with shoes and reasonably well dressed. Soundtracks and Genres Studying the soundtracks of video clips is one of the easiest and most effective ways to get students to start thinking of moving image sources as sources rather than as information which is value free and to be accepted unquestioningly. For many students this is quite a conceptual leap. Much of the video that students see (from TV History programmes) is simply used as background ‘moving wallpaper’ to accompany a soundtrack read by a narrator. The essence of the footage itself as a source is almost never analysed or even referred to. The Model T Ford To investigate this, I used a clip from an Internet resource which was a one minute advertisement from 1923 for the Model T Ford. The aim was to explore the soundtrack and it turned out to be a fruitful line of enquiry. * After studying the US economy in the 1920s we then focused in on the motor industry. At the first pass this clip provided a neat activity by simply turning off the sound and asking the students to write a one minute soundtrack. That was a fun activity and they all wrote sensible soundtracks in a documentary genre. * Interestingly, not one student wrote in the advertisement genre. So, when I then played the clip with the soundtrack we discussed the differences between their use of the clip and the actual use. * We also looked at how both the genres of soundtracks went well with the clip. This is where the ability to advance digital clips one frame at a time really comes into its own. The students were able to see how the different styles of soundtrack correlated differently (but effectively) to different events in the clip. * There was yet more mileage to be gained from this clip. As a finishing off exercise students were asked to create another soundtrack. This time they had to write a script for a film which was trying to explain that in many ways the story of the motor industry in 1920s USA was representative of the booming US economy as a whole. More soundtrack tasks Two activities and a discussion from a one minute clip seemed like pretty good value! In fact this is just the start of the mileage which can be gained from activities based around soundtracks. Another really interesting activity is to get students to work on the same clip and experiment with the impact of different voice overs on the clip. I have tried this out with silent clips from the Great War in which students write and read out voice overs which present the traditional ‘Blackadder’ view of the Great War and then read out voice overs which stress the positive aspects of wartime experience which the contemporary sources often refer to. It would be easy enough to replicate this task to other circumstances. Students might write and read out contrasting voice overs on clips showing evacuation in WW2, the impact of bombing, the importance of the creation of the National Health Service. Of course, writing and reading out soundtracks is a rather low tech approach to this activity. In an ideal situation, students would be recording their voice overs, editing them on to the soundtrack using video editing software and then playing them back to the class. Whether the high or low tech approach is used, the key learning experience is the discussion. It is very challenging but also quite thought provoking to get students explaining how a completely different story can be told using exactly the same video clip. This technique can be very powerful in getting students to realise that most programmes and films are constructed to say what the film maker wants, rather than necessarily being faithful reports of what actually happened. News Footage as Primary Sources A recurring theme in this section is the use of moving images as primary source materials. This can be a powerful way of involving students in source work, which research suggests is one of their least favourite activities. For many students one reason for this dislike is that source work generally involves analysing written texts. However, selected news clips can be very powerful in getting students to see the sub text of video clips and getting them to see that video and text sources can complement each other very powerfully. It is here that the VHS and even the projector become less useful than students accessing their own collections of clips either on their own or in small group work. The Cuban Crisis A good example of a video text is President Kennedy’s speech of October 1962 in which he announced the existence of Soviet missiles on Cuba and set out what he planned to do about it. Using a clip of this speech, students could be set the task of analysing Kennedy’s speech in much the same way as they would be asked to analyse a transcript of it. The speech is ideal for asking students to explain how Kennedy tries to justify the legitimacy of his actions to his audience. The difference in using digital video in this instance is that students can play and replay the clip as often as they need to gain the understanding they are looking for – clearly not possible if the only way to view the clip is on a projector or a VHS player. Vietnam War In examinations students are often asked to consider two or more sources and explain which is more valuable or useful to the historian examining a particular topic. Bringing in digital video can make this type of exercise a powerful multimedia experience. Students asked to examine a scene from a movie based on the Vietnam War (such as Apocalypse Now) might struggle to explain how valuable this is as a source for the historian. However, faced with additional sources which support or contradict the impression given in the movie clip and the exercise becomes a familiar one, but with the added advantage of making use of what is for many students a more attractive medium. Thus the famous speech from Apocalypse Now in which Marlon Brando claims that the US simply cannot beat the Viet Cong because they never give up might be tested against contemporary written sources but also extracts from contemporary news footage. Both this exercise and the one on Cuba could be taken to another level again if students were able to use video editing software to extract the key sections of clips in just the same way that they would highlight key sections of text in a word processor. One of the most easy to use and flexible tools for this type of activity is QuickTime Pro. This is an upgraded version of the free QuickTime player which is free and commonly available on most computers. More details about this software are available from the QuickTime web site: http://www.apple.com/quicktime/ Making Movies QuickTime Pro is just one of several excellent software tools which are available for the most exciting possibility which digital video offers – making your own documentaries. Another widely used package is Studio 9 from Pinnacle Systems. Other products are made by companies such as Roxio. Then there is the iMovie software for Macintosh machines and it is also worth remembering that Windows Moviemaker comes free of charge with the Windows XP operating system from Microsoft. http://www.pinnaclesys.com http://www.roxio.com/ http://www.apple.com/ilife/imovie/ So there is no shortage of software tools, but as always the key is to make the creation of the film more than just a novelty. It is important that students consider the message they are trying to send in their film. It is vitally important that their films are researched at least as well as any written piece of work or oral presentation. In my experience the technical side of the movie making process is relatively straightforward and takes a relatively small amount of time. It is the above considerations of research and planning which actually take up time and make for a rule of thumb that about 1 hour’s preparation is needed to create about 1 minute of quality video. The box below shows a newsroom simulation activity on the Vietnam War. It is not hard to see how such a task would motivate the vast majority of students, but again it is worth noting the importance of the storyboard in making sure that the end product is good quality History and that there is some kind of angle over and above a narrative of the war. It is a high technology exercise which will interest teachers looking to develop ICT skills both in the use of software but also in the way that software and presentation impact on audience. These are goals of teaching and learning in ICT as well as in History, which seems a fitting point to end. Why were the USA and its allies not able to defeat the Viet Cong in the Vietnam War? Briefing It is April 1975. Communist forces from North Vietnam have just taken over Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam. The last American troops and officials were lifted out by helicopter in an embarrassing scramble as the North Vietnamese troops approached. The main American forces left Vietnam two years ago, partly because of the heavy losses they were suffering. Stage 1: Your Assignment Your assignment is to prepare a 5 minute TV news report on the fall of Saigon. Your main angle is:The USA and South Vietnam forces had more money, more troops, better equipment, better food and better medicines than the Viet Cong. So how come they didn’t win? Stage 2: Your research 1. Look at all the available clips (using the play list), and browse the other folders to see what images and sounds are available. If you need more images you can get these from the web sites listed in the Links page. 2. Plan your report using a storyboard. When you start using the storyboard don't use the link again. It will start a new blank storyboard. Keep updating your storyboard in Word. 3. Go to the editing studio and start selecting clips, recording voice overs, editing selections and producing your report.Stage 4. Your storyboardHere are some of the issues and areas you could cover in your report. You may not be able to cover all this in a 5 minute report. You will have to decide which of these points will feature in greater depth and which will be skimmed over: * Why it seemed the USA was certain to win * US tactics in Vietnam * US weaknesses * Viet Cong strengths * Lack of support for US involvement in war * Conclusion: What you think were the most important factors and how factors linked together.
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