The EUROCLIO programme Historiana™ - Your Portal to the Past is an on-line educational multimedia tool that offers students multi-perspective, cross-border and comparative historical sources to supplement their national history textbooks.
Historiana™ might be considered as a digital alternative to a European textbook, however the website does not attempt to present a comprehensive ‘story of Europe’ and its relationship with the rest of the world. It offers a framework for comparing and contrasting the impact on and responses by Europe’s nations to a range of different events and developments which have shaped the world from the distant past to modern times.
Historiana™ promotes the acquisition of cross-border historical knowledge and the development of critical thinking, digital and other transversal competences important for preparing a young generation for active participation as citizens of the 21st Century.
History educators and historians from more than 30 countries have actively contributed to the present on-line tool. Recently also, educators from India, Middle East, North Africa and the United States have expressed an interest in contributing to the website.
Historiana™ will continue to grow as more and more contributors upload suitable material.
History is an inseparable part of the project of European integration. National histories are traditionally introspective and teach little about linkages between the nations. History can help young people understand the European space and its relation to their own identities. Undoubtedly most nations in Europe count large numbers of students whose immigrant or minority families do not share a common historical experience. To that extent, history teachers increasingly deal with heterogeneous historical cultures as reflected by the plurality of their pupils. Indeed, they cannot simply create ‘more inclusive’ historical narratives as the diverse student population also introduces different and frequently conflicting perspectives in an attempt to give meaning to the ‘same’ events. Therefore, it is evident that a new approach towards history education based on mutual understanding and multi-perspectivity is of urgent need in the history education. Historiana will provide such an approach and also include audiovisual sources and interactive features. By doing so, it will make use of the wealth of digitized source materials by museums, archives and other heritage institutes offers unprecedented opportunities to make history and heritage tangible for students. Historiana will help educators to find material and resources that are already online, making it easier for them to relevant educational material. Historiana will achieve this, by enabling users to access the by theme, period and location. Since the focus of the project is on implementation, the selected material will be complementary to the different curricula in Europe.
Historiana is designed primarily for students in history, citizenship and heritage (from age 14), teacher teachers and educator in history. But we are also conscious that a website like this will also be accessed by casual internet surfers interested in history and heritage.
Educators and historians from over 30, mostly European countries, are involved in the development and testing of Historiana as coordinator, contributor, editor, academic advisor or advisory board member. Countries involved are: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Malta, Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Morocco, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Scotland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Turkey.
Historiana does not aim to be encyclopedic or to be a comprehensive digital history textbook, but it will provide opportunities to compare historical developments across time and place, which will allow the user to see connections, differences and similarities and to recognize how the same events and developments may be interpreted in different ways, reflecting different perspectives. The material is designed to stimulate users to think critically on issues related to history and heritage and to acquire key competences and simultaneously gain knowledge and understanding of specific events and long term developments in history. We are not seeking to produce a digital textbook or encyclopaedia of European history. Our focus is on developing historical understanding, skills and critical thinking. We are not aiming to produce a comprehensive historical account. Also the website is organic. We hope that it will continue to be developed long beyond this particular project phase of our work. It is an enterprise that has no end date and EUROCLIO is looking at ways to ensure that the website will be sustainable beyond this current funding phase.
Gradually, as the website develops, it will contain all kinds of historical sources including extracts from important documents, photographs, cartoons, maps and audio-visual material. It will include timelines, interactive learning activities, source galleries and modules on a wide range of historical events and developments which have been organised around broad historical themes.
At the moment the team working on Historiana is developing a teaching and learning idea section. The idea is that Teaching and Learning ideals will be made available throughout the website.
New material is developed by voluntary contributors who are supported by the editing team, and through EUROCLIO projects in the Balkans (History that Connects), the Black Sea Region (Sharing History, Cultural Dialogues) and North Africa and the Middle East (Mediterranean Dialogues). In addition, several other organisations expressed interested the use of Historiana as dissemination channel for other initiatives in the field of history and heritage education.
A thematic approach has been chosen because looking into history from a thematic angle makes it easier to see connections between historical events, the relevance for the world we live in and legacy that remains. The broad nature of the themes that are chosen makes them relevant for various contexts, so that the material can be used for multiple purposes. The thematic approach makes it possible to trace back long term developments, see and analyze turning points in history and see similarities and difference between events and locations. Through this, it shows what people share, with respect for diversity. People on the move focuses on migration and the exchange between cultures. By educating students about diversity, different cultures and minorities we aim to promote inclusiveness, solidarity to others and intercultural dialogue. Rights and Responsibilities is a theme that focuses on how ordinary people have been engaged in struggles with tyrants, absolute monarchs, dictators, totalitarian states, multinational corporations or democratically-elected governments. This theme will raise awareness amongst students on social justice and responsible development. Conflict and Cooperation will address conflicts and the process of trying to resolve these conflicts and move towards cooperation. Students will learn about conflicts and how these can be prevented or resolved. Life and Leisure focuses on the history and heritage of ‘ordinary people’ thereby providing a more inclusive approach to the past. Students will study other cultures and social habits closely and improve their intercultural competences. Youngster will be better able to relate other cultures see parallels between their own and other’s histories. Work and Technology shows how people sustained themselves and their families throughout the years, but is also about creativity, innovation and problems that people found. There are clear link to environmental problems that we face today around the globe. Ideas and Ideologies by studying a variety of ideas and ideologies from all around the world. By understanding and studying other people their ideas and ideologies closely we hope that students learn to have empathy and respect toward others. The Environment this theme is often associated with other sciences, but actually is an important part of history as well, especially the way human beings saw themselves in relation with the environment. By learning about people their relationship with the environment in the past students
A unique feature of the Historiana website is the possibility to compare and contrast historical case studies. Comparing national histories allows students to see similarities, differences and helps them to see parallels on a transnational level. It also helps to see global trends and developments via the national histories that are easier to connect to the various educational systems. The comparison of case studies is possible because of the structuring of case studies around key questions. Key questions are important for developing historical understanding and providing a coherent overview of a given theme (or topic) by focusing on causes and contributing factors, identifying the significant events, highlighting how people experienced these events, identifying the main consequences of what happened, and helping the user to make historical connections and understand the bigger picture.
The following questions are used as Key Questions:
These key questions are adapted slightly for each theme. The structuring of case studies within historiana are important for developing historical understanding and providing a coherent overview of a given theme (or topic) by focusing on causes and contributing factors, identifying the significant events, highlighting how people experienced these events, identifying the main consequences of what happened, and helping the user to make historical connections and understand the bigger picture.
All Case Studies have a wider relevance; nevertheless the historical process might be very specific. When pupils use the information provided in the context before going into the Case Study, their learning will be more meaningful.
This question allows pupils to understand the relevance and phenomena in its depth. Also, this section helps to understand the complexity and variety of causes.
By looking into the experiences of people, pupils have the opportunity to understand those people might have felt. This will foster their empathy and give them a better understanding of how decisions were made in the past.
This Key Question is closely related to the ‘Why…?’ Key Question. It aims to show the wide range and complexity of consequences both within and directly after the historical process. Sometimes, consequences continue, although the event that triggered them has ended.
Although this Key Question is closely related to the Key Question ‘What are the consequences?’, it aims to show the deep impact of historical processes and phenomena that might continue over a longer period of time. For example, football players with migrant backgrounds can be used to illustrate social economic processes through time. Looking into the legacy of historical processes allows pupils to grasp the roots of a diverse society and to understand the existence of multiple identities.
The information within this Key Question helps the pupil to realize that historical processes or phenomena are rarely limited, neither by space, nor by time. Focus on transversal skills and competences The teaching and learning ideas that are developed in addition to the case studies contribute to students acquisitions of transferable skills and competences, many of which are part of global education. Building Chronological Understanding Understanding of Cultural, Ethnic and Religious Diversity Identifying, Analyzing and Explaining Change and Continuity Identifying, Analyzing and Explaining Cause and Consequence Considering Significance Understanding Interpretation Identify and Investigate Specific Historical Questions as Historical Enquiry Using Evidence Historical Empathy Educators that develop teaching and learning ideas are instructed to focus on active learning approaches such as debates and oral history projects, in which student have to work together in team, discuss and do research.
Several types of partnerships and modes of cooperation have been established that are mutually beneficial en have help to enhance effectiveness: - Contributors work together on the development of their material. They identify problems and opportunities for improvement, give a better understanding of the bigger picture of each other’s work, and help to provide additional context to the various case studies. Working together and reviewing each other’s material helps to identify parallels between different historical case studies that are developed. - Partnerships with museums, archives and researchers help the contributors who make the material to get access to sources and background information from specialists. The partner organisations can show that their collection and/or research is being used and will find its way to relevant audiences. - Cooperation with pilot schools gives the development team a better idea of what works and doesn’t work in the teaching practice. The improvements that are made to Historiana on the basis of this feedback are beneficial for the schools because the material will be better suited to their needs. - Several academics have agreed to support the editing team by reviewing the final version of the case studies before publication. This cooperation helps to reduce the gap between academic research and teaching practices in schools which is in the interest of both fields. Because it is impossible for the editors to be a specialist in all fields, this type of cooperation is the key to ensure the quality of the material on Historiana. - The European and International Associations that are network- and dissemination partners within Historiana help to reach bigger audiences and create new partnerships. By doing so, they give added value to their memberships. - Many of the other partner organisations that we cooperate with have problems to disseminating their material. Historiana helps them has their material disseminated and implemented at the same time increasing the amount of content that students and educators can access on Historiana
What were the benefits or possible setbacks that came with your choice of a website? We opted to create an website as educational resource because it is possible to continuously add and update material, and because it is possible to make changes to material that is already there. Additional advantages are that it is possible to track usage, and easier to create a community of users and to ask feedback directly from the users. Because a website offers the possibility to included much more material than a printed resource, it has been possible to the development of a European/international approach to history education. Now, if a teachers mentions that something is missing, we can simply invite this teacher to fill the gap and add more material. As result of the piloting with students and feedback we already made several changes in the content, which was possible because Historiana is a website, and not a printed resource. Especially because history the most politicised subject, new research is continuously developed, and history is always under debate, this is a real added value. A website also offers more opportunities for interactive learning with students. Within Historiana we have the ambition to make the best use of these opportunities and offer an approach to the learning and teaching of history that goes beyond the textbook. With the website, it is possible to create internal links where histories intersect, possibilities to compare and contrast and to present data in more attractive ways (see for example Template:Http://historiana.webtic.nl/timeline). In January 2013, a new project will start to see in which eLearning elements for the teaching of history through Historiana will be used. The setback is that in some countries students and educators have limited access to the internet and ICT equipment. Also, students spend more and more time looking at screens, both at home and because of this initiative also more at school.
In 2011, Historiana won the World Aware Education Award by the North South Center of the Council of Europe. This Award seeks to recognise and encourage projects which promote the practice of global education in formal and non-formal educational settings, displaying excellence in networking, partnership and coordination for increased and improved global education; bringing together different actors and institutions.
Although much of the material that is European, the focus of Historiana is not exclusively on Europe. History doesn’t stop at the borders, and it would not be correct to study Europe’s past without a global context. For example, one has to know at least some history from the United States, China and the Soviet Union in order to understand the Cold War in Europe. The history and heritage from outside Europe appears frequently in the bigger picture of case studies, and many case studies are examples of interaction between continents. They include the case studies on Migration from North Africa or the Irish Exodus. Other case studies that are planned focus on Latin America, The Middle East and Russia. The reason that most material does focus on Europe, is that many contributors from the EUROCLIO network, chose to develop material on the histories that they are most familiar with. People who familiar with other regions are encouraged to contact the coordinators and look together for possibilities to add material on those regions as well.
The resources on Historiana underwent a thorough process of quality control including an editorial process, peer review and piloting with students. The first material has already been tested with students from more than 10 different countries. The information package has been uploaded to this application. Feedback from educators has been gathered during presentations in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, England, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Republic of Macedonia, Poland, Scotland, Slovenia, and Turkey. Every year, EUROCLIO organizes at least two professional development seminars for educators in which the material of Historiana is tested, and suggestions for further improvement are included. During the last Annual Meeting, where more than 200 educators from almost 50 countries were present, the presentation of Historiana was the most appreciated plenary session. At the moment feedback sessions are planned to take place in Ballycastle (Northern-Ireland) in September 2012, Lviv (Ukraine) in October 2012, and in Erfurt (Germany) in April 2013. Visitors to the website are also invited to give feedback on the Historiana website itself. In addition Historiana has been presented to other stakeholders, including academics from the Center of Historical Culture, the Georg Eckert Institute, and the European University Institute; and representatives of museums during events organized by NEMO and Europeana. All the feedback has been used to further improve the design of Historiana and to set priorities for the further development. At the moment the priorities are to develop material that with clear links to the curricula in Europe, to make better use of the opportunities for (online) interactive learning, and to add teaching and learning ideas on how to work with the material. An external review by the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research is planned to take place later in 2012.