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Creating Effective Online Lessons


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#16 Andrew Field

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Posted 29 November 2003 - 12:31 PM

Some very interesting ideas - thank you.

It would be extremely difficult for us to doubt that exercises such as John and Joanna have explained about above have fabulous potential for history. It would perhaps be better to portray the online 'simulation' as online lessons. It isn't something that could be done effectively within the classroom nor within one lesson. It could however, form part of lessons where students have been preparing.

For those in schools where there is both limited internet access and limited access to computer rooms this would be a major limitation and involve careful planning and preparation. This is not diminishing the utility of the exercise in any way - it's just teachers have to work with what they've got. I'd love to use ICT as an inherent tool in my students' learning, but as I have to encourage all other teachers to do the same there's a somewhat unhappy mix where all teachers have to compromise. This is where we as historians can display our 'trump card' and highlight to the ICT department how our effective online history lessons are also covering their ICT National Curriculum Requirements (but leave out the part "without even trying").

John also mentioned how

The main danger of online learning is that teachers will do the same things that they normally do in the classroom


Indeed true but there is surely much practice in more traditional lessons that is required. I've found that an ICT-based starter is essential. I usually set up a short exercise such as a match-up quiz or something similar. I use these specifically to differentiate and encouage students to get going. The reason? When you get 30 students entering the computer room and logging on there are normally difficulties - could be hardware, could be log-ins, could even be chairs! With a starter exercise prepared you can get the issues sorted out whilst simultaneously getting other students on the lesson task. I use the interactive games and things I've created as plenary tasks with identical aims to those that I have within 'normal' lessons. Yet the actual exercises could not be used as effectively in the classroom - my match-up starter for example would have to involve lots of pieces of paper.

I think I'd probably prefer to identify that the tasks undertaken in an ICT-based history lesson need to be different from the 'normal' lesson in the classroom. Effective history is effective history, but as I said previously, unless making use of ICT allows you to encourage more effective history, simply don't use ICT!

Yet this still begs the question - what is effective ICT in history? We've had answers from John and the suggestion from Joanna

one that engages the children's imagination and is using a computer to make possible a learning experience that could not be done just as well using a textbook, paper and pen

but what are the historical examples / potential examples of this? As the seminar progresses towards its conclusion I'd like to put together a compendium of effective online lesson practices. This will allow us to stop talking about the 'potential' for effective online lessons and actually develop more materials that show the reality. There is so much going on with online learning - but it has been 'exciting times with great potential' for too long.


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#17 Andrew Field

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Posted 05 October 2004 - 06:26 PM

Many in UK schools will be receiving new documentation about the use of ICT across the Curriculum (called ICTAC). This documentation provides an overview of the use of ICT within curriculum subjects. It is interesting what it suggests as the uses of ICT within history.

The full documentation can (currently) be downloaded from http://www.standards...e3/respub/ictac

One section which will be of some interest are "the ICT key concepts that are particularly significant for history". The following graph is provided:

Posted Image

This struck me as an ideal time to revist this thread. Much of what is in this document is very closely connected with what we've discussed in this thread. It is an extremely useful document indeed! However, I think the document misses out quite a few opportunities - History is surely ideally placed to cover 'Investigating and Organising' and 'Communication'? Indeed, we can also directly make use of 'models and modelling'. I don't think this document quite goes far enough.

However, it suggests a realistic group of ICT-based lessons - together with clear lesson plans and ideas:
  • What does the Bayeux Tapestry tell us about the events of 1066?
  • How did the Reformation affect people’s lives? [2 lessons]
  • Secrets and signs (Linked to local industrial changes in the 19th century)
  • Hiroshima and Nagasaki
  • The coming of the Cold War
The area that I was most impressed with though were the discussion points found later in the document. These suggested ways of moving forward in your department's provision:

How can you move forward, using ICT to add value to teaching and learning in history? Use the materials provided in the ICTAC pack to identify new opportunities for pupils to apply and develop their ICT capability.

  • Which of the ICT key concepts are particularly relevant to your subject? Which aspects of ICT capability can be applied and developed in your subject?
  • What new opportunities are there for adding real value to teaching and learning in your subject by exploiting the ICT capability that pupils are bringing to your lessons?
  • In the light of pupils’ increasing ICT capability, how do you ensure that the most effective use is made of ICT?
  • How does the work on ICT across the curriculum in your department fit with the whole-school policy of ICT across the curriculum?


I think this document is extremely helpful in helping you develop the use of ICT in history. With more thought I plan to introduce a great deal more of it directly into the main SchoolHistory.co.uk site.


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#18 Paul Smith

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Posted 06 October 2004 - 08:57 AM

Thanks Andrew,

Interesting experience..just ordered the pack from Dfes and found that there was a "block" on...supply required a higher authorisation. :angry:

We could only assume this happened because we are not on the list of secondary schools..(Being a Sixth form College within a GFE institution)! So much for sharing good practice across the whole profession.

Good to see the forum is,yet again, showing the way forward.

paul :D
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