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John Simkin

ICT in Education: The Future

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What would you like to be able to do in future with ICT to improve the quality of teaching/learning, that is currently impossible/difficult to achieve?

I would like that working with ICT in the classroom will provide these improvements on history teaching, currently these advances are not impossible but difficult to achieve:

Interactivity

History web sites should provide in an interactive way the main tools that history teachers use in the classroom:

•Historical Maps

•Timelines

•Statistics and Graphics

•Text analysis

•Quizzes (texts, images)

•Multimedia (videoclips, audios…) …

Students could be able to interact on the web page by carrying out different tasks on composing their own products (maps, statistics…). These products could be printed out, sent by e-mail to the teacher or other students to complete a collaborative assignment.

ICT also provides the ways of altering maps (different points of view), changing the scale of the graphics, analysing texts or videoclips. All these activities can be crucial to promote critical thinking amongst our students. Analysing commercial movies, the way that most of our students received a great part of their historical knowledge, is an activity that every history teacher should do nowadays.

Flexibility

ICT enhance the scope of students’ autonomous work. We have to elaborate web sites where teachers and students can find a broad range of “learning objects” (pedagogical denomination that I don’t like much but is growingly used) to combine in different didactic sequences.

This possibility provides different benefits:

•Adapting our teaching practice to meet the differing learning needs of the students. We know in Spanish this process as “atención a la diversidad” (Differentation in English?) Probably, this is one of the most difficult challenges for teachers (getting to know the previous situation of the students, applying different teaching strategies…) As far as differentiation is concerned, I do think that ICT can bring about a radical change in the old art of teaching.

•Motivating students (sometimes I did quite successfully a sort of “choose your own didactic sequence”), it also means evidently to work with more engaged students with a higher self-esteem. Role plays on line can be a good example of this sort of motivation.

•Tackling different historical themes from different approaches. It will depend on teachers’ goals, on students’ interests and abilities…

Use of “primary sources”

ICT give us the potential of bringing ”virtual reality” into the classroom. When students see an (exact copy of a) document, a picture, a video… they emphatise with human beings who lived in the past and, therefore, they are closer to understand their challenges, the causes that brought about those problems…

Sometimes I have heard some of my students asking me to visit an archive to see the “real thing”.

Collaborative work

This Forum is one of the best examples of what can be done. Another example in Spain is Foro de Educahistoria.

However, in the future, we have to go further. What about on line lessons prepared by teachers from different countries? How enriching would be to work with colleagues that come from different traditions and styles of teaching!

Internet is globalising education and, therefore, students will learn in a new learning environment. This change will go beyond students forums and will be very positive for the most gifted and talented students.

European (Western, Global…) History curriculum

History and history teaching is a very serious political weapon. Sometimes, if misused, it can be a real weapon of mass destruction (of freedom and tolerance destruction).

I do think that we need a European history curriculum to build up a certain European identity. An identity that is not based on myths, battles, victories or defeats, but in other values that stem from the best European tradition. We have to eliminate the old national histories built on remembering battles and wars, and, at the same time, we have to integrate the view of the “new Europeans”. I read last 9th January an article in the French newspaper À l'école de la République on the growing role in the French educational system of young teachers who come from the immigration. I do think that they can help us to understand the real history of Europe in the last decades.

Internet and ICT can be very useful to achieve this goal.

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I do think that we need a European history curriculum to build up a certain European identity. An identity that is not based on myths, battles, victories or defeats, but in other values that stem from the best European tradition.  We have to eliminate the old national histories built on remembering battles and wars, and, at the same time, we have to integrate the view of the “new Europeans”. I read last 9th January an article in the French newspaper À l'école de la République on the growing role in the French educational system of young teachers who come from the immigration. I do think that they can help us to understand the real history of Europe in the last decades.

Before I post at length, I feel I must reply to the above. Saying that we need to 'build up a European identity' through the way that we teach History sounds dangerous to me! Surely this is misrepresenting and distorting the past to fit in with the world's current penchant for postmodernism. This view says that not only can everyone have their own point of view, but that it is true (for them). As soon as I come across anyone who honestly believes in this I can no longer have an intelligent debate with them: I believe they have both cut themselves off from the past and committed intellectual suicide. :D

As far as I see it, the history of Europe pretty much is the history of 'myths, battles, victories and defeats'. That's not to say that we cannot live peacefully now and that nothing else happened besides this. But to try and forge European harmony and co-operation by cutting pupils off from, or becoming extremely selective in one's teaching of, history is a very bad thing in my book. It's almost like the Whig view of history again - everything proves that progress has been made from the dawn of time towards your stipulated goal, and if it doesn't it's swept under the carpet.

The wartime years in Britain, for example, were not principally about the hatred of the enemy. They were about co-operation, forging a new identity for Britain, and struggling in the face of adversity - something that Britons are very good at! History is far from being 'past politics', but I'd like to keep teaching 'old national histories built on remembering battles and wars.' We wouldn't have much history otherwise... ;)

:plane Doug

PS I do, however, wholeheartedly agree with your views on collaboration, Juan Carlos! :D

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This view says that not only can everyone have their own point of view, but that it is true (for them). As soon as I come across anyone who honestly believes in this I can no longer have an intelligent debate with them: I believe they have both cut themselves off from the past and committed intellectual suicide.  :blink:

Whose "truth" do you advocate teaching then Douglas?

I am sure Juan Carlos will be both flattered and confused at being labelled a 'post-modernist'. He looked and sounded like a refreshingly unreconstructed socialist when I met him :lol:

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I'm not sure Juan Carlos would really disagree with you, Doug. Have you visited his website? It's well worth it -- http://www.historiasiglo20.org/ -- and one of the best things on it is the bit on the Spanish Civil War. Obviously, it's impossible to understand where Europe is today without understanding the conflicts which have divided us, but surely you would agree that we wouldn't be able to understand it either without an appreciation of the cultural ties which link us together. [i really do apologise for that awful, rambling sentence -- my only excuse is that I'm writing this at 6:09 in the morning...]

Juan Carlos is simply suggesting, I think, that we've gone too far down the war/conflict road and need to look at the other side more carefully....

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Doug, sorry for not being able to convey properly what I meant to. Why don’t the members of this forum learn Spanish? :blink:

I am not very sure of what is my exact situation in the political map, but after trying the simple and childish ‘The World’s shortest political quiz’ (www.self-gov.org), I realized (again) that I am a solid leftist liberal (in the American version of this Spanish originated word).

I cannot see the relation between promoting a European identity and “distorting the past to fit in with the world's current penchant for postmodernism.”

Although every research shows that most of our students’ notion of history comes from TV, I still believe that we can use our teaching to promote certain values and to attack other ones.

I do believe that nationalism is one of the main roots of evil in world history. I like European identity because is not an identity built against anybody and because it is a quite “soft” identity. Frankly speaking, I do not like identities. Is it a remainder of the old socialist internationalism? Quite probably.

In the Le Monde’s article I quoted it is claimed that those teachers coming from immigration are the French teachers that most firmly try to transmit the Republican values. I am very interested in getting to know the point of view of these teachers about the recent European history.

Does it mean that I want to integrate all sorts of points of view on our recent history? No, I don’t care about Le Pen or Haider’s point of view. I don’t care about a fundamentalist Muslin mullah’s opinion. I try to teach my students to getting to know and then fight against those political stances.

I do not think that history is a mere discourse. I do not believe that every argument is valid.

But, coming back to the topic, I consider internet and ICT a splendid way of collaborative work that can help us to build a new curriculum far away from national feats. ICT and internet is not only about how to teach, it can facilitate a new approach to the core problem for history teachers: what should we teach? What topics and problems should we select from years and years of mankind's evolution?

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I do think that we need a European history curriculum to build up a certain European identity. An identity that is not based on myths, battles, victories or defeats, but in other values that stem from the best European tradition.  We have to eliminate the old national histories built on remembering battles and wars, and, at the same time, we have to integrate the view of the “new Europeans”. I read last 9th January an article in the French newspaper À l'école de la République on the growing role in the French educational system of young teachers who come from the immigration. I do think that they can help us to understand the real history of Europe in the last decades. (Juan Carlos)

Before I post at length, I feel I must reply to the above. Saying that we need to 'build up a European identity' through the way that we teach History sounds dangerous to me! Surely this is misrepresenting and distorting the past to fit in with the world's current penchant for postmodernism. This view says that not only can everyone have their own point of view, but that it is true (for them). As soon as I come across anyone who honestly believes in this I can no longer have an intelligent debate with them: I believe they have both cut themselves off from the past and committed intellectual suicide. :blink:

I am in complete agreement with Juan Carlos. We are not just educators and historians, we are citizens of the world. This results in us developing a political ideology. In my case, I am a libertarian socialist (or in Juan Carlos words a leftist liberal). I am also a pacifist and a staunch opponent of imperialism and unregulated capitalism. This has always influenced the way I teach. It has also influenced the teaching materials I have produced. I completely agree with Juan Carlos when he writes:

I do think that we need a European history curriculum to build up a certain European identity. An identity that is not based on myths, battles, victories or defeats, but in other values that stem from the best European tradition. We have to eliminate the old national histories built on remembering battles and wars, and, at the same time, we have to integrate the view of the “new Europeans”.

I think nationalism in history teaching is a major problem in every country. I hope that my working together we can help to provide materials that tackle this issue. I am sure we will not always agree on the way we do this, but surely we have enough in common to debate these issues. Anyone who has ever met Juan Carlos knows he is the last person to accuse of “committing intellectual suicide.”

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I wasn't saying that Juan Carlos was actually committing intellectual suicide, just that what he posted sounded a bit postmodernist to me... :hotorwot

There's a tension, isn't there, between identity and culture on one hand, and nationalism on the other. Rampant nationalism is obviously a bad thing as it suggests a narrow worldview. On the other hand, every institution or state tries to build a strong identity and culture as this fosters productivity, competition and a sense of pride.

I must have misunderstood what Juan Carlos was getting at. I see nothing wrong with promoting a strong sense of culture and identity through one's past. There is something wrong, I would agree, with twisting the past to show one country's glorious achievements. This is perhaps what has traditionally been done by educators in days past. I don't think many people could point the finger at history teachers nowadays, however...

:plane Doug

PS I wish I had learnt Spanish when I was at school :(

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PS I wish I had learnt Spanish when I was at school 

It's never too late, Doug, especially for a young whippersnapper like you...

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European (Western, Global…) History curriculum

History and history teaching is a very serious political weapon. Sometimes, if misused, it can be a real weapon of mass destruction (of freedom and tolerance destruction).

I do think that we need a European history curriculum to build up a certain European identity. An identity that is not based on myths, battles, victories or defeats, but in other values that stem from the best European tradition.  We have to eliminate the old national histories built on remembering battles and wars, and, at the same time, we have to integrate the view of the “new Europeans”. I read last 9th January an article in the French newspaper À l'école de la République on the growing role in the French educational system of young teachers who come from the immigration. I do think that they can help us to understand the real history of Europe in the last decades.

Internet and ICT can be very useful to achieve this goal.

I like very much this idea put forward by Juan Carlos. I do remember that we did discuss this European framework of E-HELP at this Forum and at our two last meetings or didn’t we? So there should not be many obstacles to rally behind this idea.

Let say that we divide 20th century into decades or five periods of 20 years length and

than look at them from the European level ( this should be defined by us …. which kind of European look out we would like to apply) rather then from national level.

Thus historical successes, inventions, setbacks, progresses, cultural achievements etc. could be described, evaluated and compared with other continents (which do have different “culture” and different set ups of successes, inventions … etc).

Edited by Dalibor Svoboda

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Interactivity

History web sites should provide in an interactive way the main tools that history teachers use in the classroom:

•Historical Maps

•Timelines

•Statistics and Graphics

•Text analysis

•Quizzes (texts, images)

•Multimedia (videoclips, audios…) …

Students could be able to interact on the web page by carrying out different tasks on composing their own products (maps, statistics…). These products could be printed out, sent by e-mail to the teacher or other students to complete a collaborative assignment.

ICT also provides the ways of altering maps (different points of view), changing the scale of the graphics, analysing texts or videoclips. All these activities can be crucial to promote critical thinking amongst our students. Analysing commercial movies, the way that most of our students received a great part of their historical knowledge, is an activity that every history teacher should do nowadays.

Flexibility

ICT enhance the scope of students’ autonomous work. We have to elaborate web sites where teachers and students can find a broad range of “learning objects” (pedagogical denomination that I don’t like much but is growingly used) to combine in different didactic sequences.

This possibility provides different benefits:

•Adapting our teaching practice to meet the differing learning needs of the students. We know in Spanish this process as “atención a la diversidad” (Differentation in English?) Probably, this is one of the most difficult challenges for teachers (getting to know the previous situation of the students, applying different teaching strategies…) As far as differentiation is concerned, I do think that ICT can bring about a radical change in the old art of teaching.

•Motivating students (sometimes I did quite successfully a sort of “choose your own didactic sequence”), it also means evidently to work with more engaged students with a higher self-esteem. Role plays on line can be a good example of this sort of motivation.

•Tackling different historical themes from different approaches. It will depend on teachers’ goals, on students’ interests and abilities…

Use of “primary sources”

ICT give us the potential of bringing ”virtual reality” into the classroom. When students see an (exact copy of a) document, a picture, a video… they emphatise with human beings who lived in the past and, therefore, they are closer to understand their challenges, the causes that brought about those problems…

Sometimes I have heard some of my students asking me to visit an archive to see the “real thing”.

Collaborative work

This Forum is one of the best examples of what can be done. Another example in Spain is Foro de Educahistoria.

However, in the future, we have to go further. What about on line lessons prepared by teachers from different countries? How enriching would be to work with colleagues that come from different traditions and styles of teaching!

Internet is globalising education and, therefore, students will learn in a new learning environment. This change will go beyond students forums and will be very positive for the most gifted and talented students.

I red a few times Juan Carlos last contribution on the thread:

What would you like to be able to do in future with ICT to improve the quality of teaching/learning, that is currently impossible/difficult to achieve?, which contain his thoughts about the importance of interactivity, flexibility, use of “primary sources”, collaborative work ……

I must admit that I’m impressed. He put together in a coherent way many thoughts I did thought during a longer time. I think that he pointed at the factors which should be on our mind when we produce E-HELP ……..

We all have been asked for our views and expectations about ICT. Despite the fact that I do not look at ICT in pedagogy in unproblematic way I support Juan Carlos suggestions whole heartedly.

Edited by Dalibor Svoboda

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I do believe that nationalism is one of the main roots of evil in world history. I like European identity because is not an identity built against anybody and because it is a quite “soft” identity. Frankly speaking, I do not like identities. Is it a remainder of the old socialist internationalism? Quite probably.

In the past history teachers have played an important role in developing nationalism. For example, Hitler was converted to German Nationalism by his history teacher. We surely have enough evidence available to us to show the terrible miseries that has resulted from this emotive approach to the past. I believe it is our responsibility as educators to do what we can to bring an end to nationalism. The very future of our planet depends on it. I think that the E-HELP project should do what it can to fulfil the objectives of Juan Carlos.

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I do believe that nationalism is one of the main roots of evil in world history. I like European identity because is not an identity built against anybody and because it is a quite “soft” identity. Frankly speaking, I do not like identities. Is it a remainder of the old socialist internationalism? Quite probably.

In the past history teachers have played an important role in developing nationalism. For example, Hitler was converted to German Nationalism by his history teacher. We surely have enough evidence available to us to show the terrible miseries that has resulted from this emotive approach to the past. I believe it is our responsibility as educators to do what we can to bring an end to nationalism. The very future of our planet depends on it. I think that the E-HELP project should do what it can to fulfil the objectives of Juan Carlos.

I think it's true to say that excessive nationalism can be a most destructive force, as can be excessive "blind" belief in almost any ideology. On the other hand, I do think there can be some aspects which it might not be so easy to dismiss out-of-hand.

I think communities -- nations, if you must -- often share distinct, even unique, cultural values which mark them out from their neighbors. These distinctions can be the source of destructive conflict, but the rich diversity of cultures is, I think, part of being human. I woud hate to live in some sort of Brave New World where all differences had been carefully sanded away and all communities shared exactly the same values and world view.

I'm also not all that happy with the implication that it's the job of the history teacher to sift through what we teach in order better to illustrate "terrible miseries that has resulted from this emotive approach to the past".

Even if I agreed 100% with John's assessment of nationalism, I'm still not sure I'd agree that "it is our responsibility as educators to do what we can to bring an end to nationalism". It's our job as educators, I think, to present our students with all sides of the argument (whatever it is) and the evidence with which to evaluate the different approaches. If we've done our job well, then the students should, themselves, be able to come to a sound judgement regarding nationalism or any other -ism. Any other approach, it could be argued, comes closer to indoctrination than to education.

I suppose it's really about allowing people the "free will" to make up their own minds. That's what John's defending on another thread where he's written about how wrong it is to gag and imprison holocaust deniers. I agree with him. Let anyone who wishes present their views openly and then let these views be freely debated. Then people can make their own informed decision...

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In the past history teachers have played an important role in developing nationalism. For example, Hitler was converted to German Nationalism by his history teacher.

Sometimes I think that we are not aware of the power of history teaching. One of the reasons that explain my will of using ICT and internet in my daily work is because I want to entice my students into thinking history. I need new tools that can fight against the overwhelming influence of the media. Can I fight against Hollywood films? Probably not, but I will do my best.

Mike, I love the rich diversity of cultures. I am "very Spanish". I like very much flamenco, Spanish food, Spanish wines, the tragic paintings of Goya, the smell of the orange tree flowers in the Spring, even, that is a secret, I was very fond of bullfighting :(

But I absolutely hate Spanish nationalism. I cannot be proud of being born in Madrid. I don't regret it at all, but I am not proud of. That's nonsense.

I am sorry to insist on this point. But, as a European history teacher, I think it is my duty to defuse too strong national feelings in my students.

Edited by Juan Carlos

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I don't think we're actually disagreeing here, Juan Carlos... It's a question of how one defines "nationalism"... Your pride in Spanish culture in all its richness and diversity is, I suppose, what I see as one aspect of nationalism, the positive aspect. As is the desire to resist the "dumbing down" of culture by the increasing domination of transatlantic "culture"... Spain has its own Big Brother, its own Pop Idol, the audience for Spanish films at the cinema dropped by 3 million last year to be replaced by ever more mediocre Hollywood rubbish. These are, in my opinion, "nationalistic" attitudes, and I don't think there's anything wrong with them... What's wrong is the perversion of nationalism -- chauvinism, or xenophobia -- and I think that's what you and John are talking about...

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What's wrong is the perversion of nationalism -- chauvinism, or xenophobia...

Exactly. There's a difference between being proud of your community's achievements and to identify yourself with a particular group on the one hand, and rampant nationalism on the other... :D

My views on the future of ICT:

ICT is not an end, it is a means. In the future we shall still be educating pupils to evaluate what is in front of them, get to grips with chronology, and organize and communicate their work effectively (amongst other things). What will change, of course, is the methods by which we do this. In order to make History relevant to the age in which we teach, we must take pupils from where they are to a defined end point. How we get there is a lot less important than that we get there.

Having said that, I see ICT as a great tool in teaching and learning in order to develop greater understanding of a given topic. I think ICT is of benefit in two ways: organizing information in a pupil-centred, rather than teacher-centred fashion, and to allow greater collaboration. The future of each, as I see it, is spelled out below:

1. Organizing information - in many schools, pupils are already using software such as Inspiration to organise their thoughts. This is just the thin end of the wedge, or the tip of the iceberg! When the new version of Windows ships (codename Longhorn) it will include 3D elements which, if implemented properly in applications, should revolutionize the ways in which we use computers. Instead of the information displayed on a monitor being like an interactive piece of paper, even the operating system will be a 3D 'world'. I believe that in 20 years' time the current generation will think and visualize things in ways radically different than our own. People often talk about making History 'come alive' for pupils. Although there is still obviously a role for imagination, this is something which may actually deliver on that promise. :sun

2. Greater Collaboration - the best example of how successful high-quality collaborations can be, in my opinion, is the Open Source Software movement. Computer programmers allow each other access to their 'code' in order to construct the best product possible. The end product is made freely available to the general public - e.g. OpenOffice.org, Mozilla Firefox and The GIMP (a graphics manipulation package). This principle is also at work already in the History teaching community. Andrew Field's Schoolhistory Forum, like this forum, is immensely popular and a haven for the sharing of ideas and good practice. I have recently set up a shareforum to allow the sharing of resources to go hand-in-hand with such discussions. These being virtual communities, many of the members have never met one another face-to-face. Thus ICT becomes the enabling feature to allow something which goes on at departmental or school level to become a global phenomenon!

Coming back to the debate above about nationalism, it is ICT which will enable barriers to be broken down to prevent nationalism getting out of control. Discussion forums and advanced forms of videoconferencing have the potential to allow pupils to get a different 'take' on History. We're still going to be doing the same things in the future - discussing, debating, writing, evaluating - it's just that we'll be doing it in slightly different ways!

:blink: Doug

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