Teaching History in an Emerging Digital Learning Environment - a British Perspective

Jim Everett
History Coordinator
Computers in Teaching Initiative Centre for History, Archaeology & Art History
1 University Gardens
University of Glasgow
Glasgow G12 8QQ
United Kingdom
Tel: +(0)141 330 4942
fax: +(0)141 330 5518

Abstract Presented for The Future of the Humanities in the Digital Age

The paper will discuss the current state of computer use in teaching history in UK higher education.  Any attempt to characterise as broad and diverse a community as the teachers of history in UK higher Education is necessarily a
bold step.  Thanks to the longevity and particular focus of the Computers in Teaching Initiative CTICH is uniquely placed to offer such a characterisation.

The Computers in Teaching Initiative Centre for History, Archaeology and Art History (CTICH) was established in 1989 and is one of 24 subject-based resource centres within the Computers in Teaching Initiative funded by the
higher education Funding Councils for England, Scotland and Wales and by the Department of Education for Northern Ireland.

The Centre encourages and supports the use of computers to improve the teaching of these subjects at all UK universities and other institutions of higher education through a variety of activities including running training
workshops, conference presentations and conducting extended visits to relevant departments throughout the UK.  As a nationally funded initiative CTICH is also well placed to monitor the higher education sector-wide pressures and policies that affect the practice of teaching history.  The History Coordinator of the CTI thus enjoys a unique position to assess the successes achieved and the challenges faced in the teaching of history in the emerging digital learning environment.

Involvement in three recent projects provides specific case studies that bring this overview into sharp focus:

Further underpinning for this paper is provided by an extensive survey of teachers of history recently conducted by CTICH.  The survey asked respondents to report on the types of applications they use in their research, teaching preparation, and directly with students.  Respondents were also encouraged to indicate their views on the road ahead.  They were asked to indicate their own interests in developing their exploitation of electronic resources as well as evaluating the opportunities and obstacles facing the extension of computer assisted teaching in their institutions.
The paper will also explore the results of the survey from the perspective of historical fields  and specialisations as well as from the institutional point of view.

This overview of the discipline in the UK will offer important insights into the ways lecturers and students are responding to the opportunities and constraints offered in the current environment whether it be institutional,
departmental, professional, technical, or pedagogical.  While focused on one discipline within the humanities and one state within Europe this paper also promises to raise important points of comparison with these larger communities.