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
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.
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