International conference on popular history magazines as a starting point for transnational and critical media education

With an international conference in Lodz (Poland), the EU funded LLP Comenius project EHISTO (European History Crossroads as Pathways to Intercultural and Media Education), coordinated by the University of Augsburg’s Chair of History Didactics, enters the second project phase.

Augsburg – researchers, media experts as well as teachers of the partner schools involved in the project will attend the conference organised by the Chair of History Didactics which is held in Lodz (Poland) from 27 to 30 October. After about one year, the EHISTO project, supported by the EU with about 300 000 euros, is halfway through.

From “European History Crossroads” to digital teaching modules

The past year of the project primarily served to create digital teaching modules for schools and for teacher training and further education. As a first step of the project, a baseline study had to be carried out, led by Professor Terry Haydn of the University of East Anglia, England. The purpose of that study was, amongst others, to determine the so-called “European History Crossroads,” i.e. topics which shall be relevant in popular history magazines as well as in school curricula. At the same time, the needs of history teachers regarding the teaching of critical media skills in history lessons were evaluated, in order to consider these in the conception of new studies and teaching modules.

As a second step, the participants of the project created digital teaching modules based on the baseline study on two of the “European History Crossroads” with the topics “Outbreak of WWI” and “Columbus.” These modules designed for history teaching shall contribute to the enhancement and improvement of history teaching on two levels: On the one hand, a critical analysis of popular history magazines and the way they make topics accessible for a wider audience can help students to gain critical media skills. On the other hand, these teaching modules help teachers to illustrate the multiple perspectives of history as the European History Crossroads “Columbus” and “Outbreak of WWI” are in fact interpreted and represented differently in different history products and reflect the historical experiences of the different European (partner) countries.

The conference in Lodz serves to present the newly designed online modules for the first time before they are tested in practise and evaluated in the current school year. Susanne Popp, professor at the University of Augsburg’s Chair of History Didactics and EHISTO project coordinator, states: “A major concern is the practical application, which is reflected in the fact that our teachers from the participating schools are going to join our second project meeting.” Susanne Popp herself has created a university study module for students enrolled for teachers’ studies in order to sustain the results gained during the course of the project within teacher training. Moreover, the module for teacher training created by the Spanish project partners “Research GRoup on InterAction and eLearning (GRIAL)” (University of Salamanca, Spain) will be presented at the conference in Lodz.

Strong interest in the project and cooperations

The fact that the EHISTO project is met with great interest is proven not least by the contacts to other research groups and cooperation projects that have been established by now. For instance, the project team followed the invitation of werkstatt.bpb to join the OED workshop (Open Educational Development) about WWI in October and the invitation for a presentation at the conference “Unlocking Sources – The First World War online & Europeana” in late January, both in Berlin.

The development of multilingual and multi-perspective media skills

Developing teaching and study modules for history lessons, EHISTO responds to the increasing importance of commercialised accounts of history in mass media, which often does not meet EU standards for history education in many ways. In this context, the project aims at promoting intercultural and critical media skills within history education in Europe by offering multi-perspective and transnational historic contents. Sources are history magazines which often put a strong emphasis on one-sided national perspectives.

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