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2 minutes to read Posted on Monday June 3, 2019

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

portrait of Beth Daley

Beth Daley

Editorial Adviser , Europeana Foundation

portrait of Bridget Martin

Bridget Martin

History teacher , EUROCLIO - European Association of History Educators

Three lessons from a history teacher in residence at EUROCLIO

This month on Europeana Pro News, as the academic year draws to a close, we’re looking back to see what we, and our education community, have learned over the last months. Today, Bridget Martin, a history teacher in residence at EUROCLIO, gives us her top three lessons learned.

main image
Mechanics: page to a partwork on science, with pictures of various machines. Coloured lithograph. Lettering: Illustrations of natural philosophy. Motion and machinery
J. Emslie
Wellcome Collection

Bridget’s top three lessons

  1. Teachers are keen to use digital cultural heritage but they need guidance and support to find relevant, good-quality resources.

  2. Teachers’ time is limited. We can help them by creating source collections that are ready to use.

  3. Having access to good quality content means we can - quite easily - create great resources and train teachers in how to use them.

A conversation with Bridget

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a History teacher from Sydney, Australia and have been teaching in secondary schools since 2012. I am currently teaching at the International School of Paris while also completing a Masters in ‘History Today’ through the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. I am presently a History Teacher in Residence at EUROCLIO where my responsibilities have been focused on the development of the Historiana platform, including: offering teacher training workshops, creating new source collections and building eLearning activities to accompany these.

What is the impact of your work using digital cultural heritage in learning materials?

I think that it is through the teacher training workshops that I have best been able to see the valuable impacts of my work as this is when I have received direct feedback from my teaching colleagues. The responses of teachers in workshops and webinars have been very positive, particularly about the usefulness of the resources discussed. I believe that teachers are very keen to engage with digital cultural heritage but often don’t know where to find relevant, quality resources. Providing teachers with information about Europeana Collections, Historiana and examples of eLearning Activities that they can use in their classrooms seems to be of great value to them. In particular, teachers often comment about the quality of the Historiana source collections which are designed with the needs of educators in mind. I also find the eLearning Activities to be valuable as ready-to-use but also adaptable activities designed to promote the development of students’ historical thinking skills while engaging with a variety of digital cultural heritage sources.

Bridget Martin in a workshop

What are the challenges in making digital culture widely used in education in your experience?

One of the major challenges in assembling source collections for Historiana has been locating relevant source material. There is such an abundance of material available through Europeana Collections, which is a wonderful thing, but it can be very time-consuming to find the best and most appropriate items which are also available for reuse. This work also takes a great deal of background research to determine effective search terms for each topic or theme and to identify strategies to include transnational and multi-perspective sources. This is one reason I believe the source collections are so valuable: we have done the work that educators often don’t have the time to do in order to present them with a suite of relevant materials ready for them to use and adapt in their own classroom contexts.

In my view, the source collections are the most challenging component of the development of our learning content. Once a quality and purposeful collection is created, it is easy to construct learning activities that make use of it and subsequently offer teachers training in how to make the most of these resources.

Euroclio workshop in Gdansk

What are the next steps for the Historiana project and convincing history educators to use digital cultural heritage and primary sources in their classrooms?

Work is already underway to continue improving the Historiana site and our engagement with educators. We are currently working on developing new tools to be included in the eLearning Activity Builder which allows teachers to construct their own online learning activities. We are continuing to expand our source collections in line with priority areas identified in a survey of European educators and are creating corresponding eLearning Activities for these. We hope to work more closely with individual cultural heritage institutions to make the most of their collections in this process. We are also planning to offer more regular webinars and are assembling a core team of teacher trainers who will deliver training workshops across Europe to support history educators in developing meaningful learning activities using digital cultural heritage resources and online learning tools.