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John Simkin

E-HELP Projects

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Over the last few months I have been involved in trying to get the Guardian to publish an article on E-HELP. After sending details of our Toulouse meeting I was commissioned by the Guardian to write an article by the editor of the ICT in education supplement.

He initially said he was pleased with it and I was contacted by his picture researcher. It was agreed to go into Doug Belshaw’s school to photograph him using ICT in the classroom. Doug was unfortunately off sick. Plans were made to go in later but this caused problems with deadlines and either for this reason, or some other reason, the article did not appear.

The editor contacted me and apologised for pulling the article. As the supplement was not due to appear for anther 3 months it could not be published it its original form. (Understandably the references to the Toulouse meeting made the article outdated). He therefore asked me to rewrite it as an example of E-HELP’s link with using ICT in an innovative way. I did this. At first it was ok but he said it needed a new opening paragraph. This I did. Now he tells me he wants it completely restructured. In essence he wants me to remove all reference to E-HELP and instead wants an article on the latest developments in using ICT in history. In other words, he wants me to rewrite the article. I do not have the time to do this (he wants it done in the next couple of days).

On Friday I had a phone-call from California. It was from a senior editor from Simon & Schuster. It was made on behalf of one of their authors, David Talbot, who is writing a book about John F. Kennedy. Apparently he has been making use of the research being carried out by the participants in our JFK Forum. The editor told me that Talbot was fascinated by the way we were using the forum in history teaching and wanted to arrange a convenient time when I could be interviewed about this. Talbot is the founder and editor-in-chief of Salon Magazine. Hopefully I will be able to persuade him to give E-HELP some publicity.

http://www.salon.com/

It seems that we have the potential to get publicity but we need to provide topics that will interest journalists. For example, see this section on Watergate:

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showforum=217

I suggest we do something similar on European History. First we need to come up with a topic that creates passion in its contributors. It would also help if it is linked to the history of other big internet users such as America, Canada and Australia. One possibility is something controversial on the Second World War. Maybe an examination of the concept of a “war crime”.

Any other ideas?

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I suggest we do something similar on European History. First we need to come up with a topic that creates passion in its contributors. It would also help if it is linked to the history of other big internet users such as America, Canada and Australia. One possibility is something controversial on the Second World War. Maybe an examination of the concept of a “war crime”.

Any other ideas?

Getting the interest of journalists carries obvious advantages but whatever we spend E Help time and resources on primarily needs to be usable for teachers, trainees and students in the history classroom. Too much of what I see on the old Virtual School site and similar places is all very worthy in its way but I would be surprised if many schools use the materials there.

The first step is to select a topic which is covered on the curriculum of a number of European countries and then create some usable planned interactive lesson activities.

The IB is an obvious place to look first ... those in the group with experience of the IB could perhaps post up a possible list??

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Getting the interest of journalists carries obvious advantages but whatever we spend E Help time and resources on primarily needs to be usable for teachers, trainees and students in the history classroom.

Completely agree. I was only suggesting that the selection of certain topics might have an influence on getting information about E-HELP into the media.

As part of the E-HELP project I have started an international discussion on war crimes in the 20th Century.

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=3813

Hopefully, people from a wide range of different countries will join in this debate. To start the ball rolling I have posted an article that appeared in today’s Guardian. Richard Drayton is senior lecturer in history at Cambridge University.

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The first step is to select a topic which is covered on the curriculum of a number of European countries and then create some usable planned interactive lesson activities.

The IB is an obvious place to look first ... those in the group with experience of the IB could perhaps post up a possible list??

Absolutely. This has always been behind my thinking for the list of topics we put into our original proposal. However, I also think what interests the journalists is the 'research' and communicative process that is enabled by this forum as much as the content of 'sexy' historical topics!

That said, I am sure their a number of historical topics on the IB syllabus which might be more appropriate than others. One of the most obvious and popular with examination centres is the Cold War. The other two very popular topics are the 'Rise and Rule of Single Party States' and '20th Century Warfare'. These are all topics studied at Standard Level (all IB historians) and studied all around the world (ie including the American market).

Using John's model, (as I see it) ideal topics would involve access to researchers who

are making use of recently declassified documentation (ideally available online). This is why Cold War and Soviet history are perhaps most obvious examples.

I, for example, could use some stuff on Castro to go with the JFK/Cuba content but I would have no use at IB for Watergate other than for individual students choosing to do their personal study (Internal Assessment or Extended Essay) on the subject. This is something I am about to suggest to my current crop of wannabe conspiracy theorists.

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Additionally, all IB students must conduct an "in-depth" study of a particular topic which is the subject of a document-based examination paper. The current choices are: The USSR under Stalin, 1924-1941; The emergence and development of the People's Republic of China (PRC), 1946-1964; and The Cold War, 1960 to 1979.

Since there's a bit less choice here than with the 20th Century Topics where schools can choose 2 topics out of 10, so you're more likely to command a bigger audience doing this...

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I have persuaded Dr. Richard Drayton of Cambridge University to join the forum and defend his views on war crimes. Hopefully, others will join in this stimulating debate. If it works I am sure we will be able to persuade other academics to work with us on the E-HELP project.

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What is your E-HELP project really for though?

(1) Research, evaluate and present evidence of good practice in the use of ICT and the Internet in European History Classrooms.

(2) Produce and manage a multilingual website and discussion forum to project and its aims.

(3) Create innovative online history resources for teaching a European dimension with a range of “past-present” historical issues in a multilingual/second language context.

(4) Deliver a residential course in July 2007 in the use of ICT and the Internet in the history classroom.

Surely it is all about empowering teachers to make effective use of ICT - sharing the knowledge and ideas. Debates about conspiracy theories aren't particularly relevant to those in the classroom day after day trying to come up with inventive and exciting ways to teach lessons.

Surely it is of primary importance that you focus upon your target group and then get your wide range of subject experts to support you in this venture. There's a danger that doing the latter first will mean that you lose focus of your primary aims.

Not trying to belittle this work at all - but I think your EHELP priorities need to be upheld. Thousands of teachers will be interested and attracted to a collection of useful and practical ideas for teaching.

To be honest, I think you will turn teachers away in their droves if the project becomes focused on conspiracy theories and the like. Teachers want a collection of innovative, exciting and practical resources that have proven benefits in the classroom.

Edited by Andrew Field

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Surely it is all about empowering teachers to make effective use of ICT - sharing the knowledge and ideas......

Surely it is of primary importance that you focus upon your target group and then get your wide range of subject experts to support you in this venture. There's a danger that doing the latter first will mean that you lose focus of your primary aims.

I think these are very important and valid points.

I would like in three years to be able to celebrate my contribution to a selection of outstanding resources for teachers and learners on topics directly relevant to day to day practice across a number of European countries.

We therefore need to be very focussed on what our market requires.

We have also appeared to have had thus far an unspoken commitment only to Key stage 5 resources (IB and A Level) - why not materials for younger students and their teachers too? The bulk of most history teachers teaching is surely with the younger age groups? There are some very interesting possibilities given the countries we represent.

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Surely it is all about empowering teachers to make effective use of ICT - sharing the knowledge and ideas. Debates about conspiracy theories aren't particularly relevant to those in the classroom day after day trying to come up with inventive and exciting ways to teach lessons.

Surely it is of primary importance that you focus upon your target group and then get your wide range of subject experts to support you in this venture. There's a danger that doing the latter first will mean that you lose focus of your primary aims.

Not trying to belittle this work at all - but I think your EHELP priorities need to be upheld. Thousands of teachers will be interested and attracted to a collection of useful and practical ideas for teaching.

To be honest, I think you will turn teachers away in their droves if the project becomes focused on conspiracy theories and the like. Teachers want a collection of innovative, exciting and practical resources that have proven benefits in the classroom.

What are you talking about? The two debates are on war crimes and the domino theory. It has nothing to do with conspiracies.

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What are you talking about? The two debates are on war crimes and the domino theory. It has nothing to do with conspiracies.

Good point.

However the issue of putting the cart before the horse Andrew raises is an important one.

The creation of resources has to be our priority. I would therefore like to see a clear commitment to agreed topic areas covering a range of age groups, National Curriculums and syllabi sooner rather than later.

I think also that each full E-Help member should have some very clear deadlines for September. We also urgently need to make a decision about our web presence - mutiple sites linked together simply won't do. Unfortunately I seem to have been talking to myself over this latter point recently.

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What are you talking about? The two debates are on war crimes and the domino theory. It has nothing to do with conspiracies.

Well, you can see what I'm talking about even though I didn't phrase that section correctly.

What I'm suggesting is that from my persepective - as a history and ICT teacher who is very interested in new teaching ideas and methods - I feel you are in danger of missing out from a massive range of potential by narrowly focusing upon debates about historical topics. You can do this as a matter of course on this forum.

I'd suggest striving to achieve the very cutting edge pedagogy and practice that will be of practical use to history teachers as suggested in the E-Help seminars. Interest from journalists would not seem to be incredibly vital when you have full funding and incredible potential at this stage. The interest from journalists will come when you've developed the leading-edge practices over the years of the project.

Just an opinion from the very far sidelines though, feel free to ignore.

Edited by Andrew Field

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I have now persuaded Robert Lilly, the professor of sociology at the Northern Kentucky University, to join our debate on War Crimes. Dr. Richard Drayton’s article was based on information taken from Lilly’s book, Taken By Force.

Lilly has been unable to find a publisher in the UK or US because it deals with rapes committed by Allied soldiers during the liberation of Western Europe. The book is the backbone of a TV documentary currently being produced in France.

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When following different postings at this thread I do feel more and more insecure about my role inside E-HELP projects.

What am I supposed to do?

Which debate topics is part of E-HELP? At which of them am I supposed to participate?

In which way are Women of 20th Century connected with all the other new topics which pops up here and there like; debate about “war crimes” and/or debate about “domino theory”?

Are there more topics included into E-HELP then the ones I counted up? Which?

Probably I missed something when these things hade been debated earlier.

Have inclusion of these subtopics been debated previously? Who decide which topic should be added?

Can somebody explain to me connections between all these rather disparate topics?

Edited by Dalibor Svoboda

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When following different postings at this thread I do feel more and more insecure about my role inside E-HELP projects.

What am I supposed to do?

Can somebody explain to me connections between all these rather disparate topics?

Don't worry Dalibor, just focus on women. Nothing else is required of you at the moment.

John has some interesting ideas, but he is just trying them out here. If you wish to participate in the discussions, please do. But nothing has been decided that wasn't decided at the last Toulouse meeting.

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