Helping To Keep History Relevant:

Multimedia And Authentic Learning

Peter Hillis* and Drew Calderhead**

*University of Strathclyde Faculty of Education

76 Southbrae Drive

Glasgow United Kingdom G13 1PP

** University of Strathclyde Faculty of Education

76 Southbrae Drive

Glasgow United Kingdom G13 1PP

Abstract: The subject based curriculum attracts lively debate in many countries being accused of fragmenting teaching and learning, erecting artificial barriers and failing to teach the skills required in the twenty first century (Hazlewood 2005). Cross-curricular rich tasks are increasingly seen as the means to develop relevant knowledge, understanding and skills. Over the past fourteen years we have developed and evaluated a series of interactive multi-media resources for primary and secondary schools on themes within Scottish History. The generally positive evaluation given to these resources by pupils and teachers points to some ways in which subjects such as history can remain challenging and relevant. The relevance has largely stemmed, in the case of the multi-media resources, from combining the historian's traditional role of problemising the past, with a wide range of primary and secondary sources, new technologies and learning tasks encompassing critical skills/authentic learning. Consequently, we argue that subjects must in future embrace new technologies and authentic learning to maintain their place in the school curriculum.

Keywords: History, subjects, authentic learning, multimedia, curriculum.

1 Introduction

A key feature of secondary schooling in Scotland has been and remains subject teaching by an all graduate profession. Pupils entering the first year of secondary school experience subjects ranging across the spectrum including English, Mathematics and history to physics and technology. It has often been claimed that primary education is child centred while secondary schools are subject focussed 'examination factories' (Boyd 1997). Nonetheless, the emphasis on subjects transcends national boundaries featuring in countries across the globe from Australia to the United States of America. This has not prevented increasing levels criticism of curricula organised around subjects. Criticisms challenge the philosophical underpinning of subjects and their impact in teaching and learning within schools.

Subjects such as history, it has been argued, 'are actually territorial spaces carved out by academic scholars for their own purpose' in contrast to real life where people, when confronted with a problem, do not ask if it is part of Mathematics, Science, etc. (Beane 1991). This results in an unconnected, fragmented and disjointed curriculum requiring a leap of faith by pupils to see if it fits together as a whole. In announcing a review of the curriculum in Scotland, the Education Minister flagged up his disenchantment with the subject based curriculum (Munro 2003), but this review is only one among similar reforms beyond Scotland such as the New Basics Project in Queensland, Australia, (Department of Education and the Arts 2006) and Opening Minds, the new Curriculum, in England (the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce 2006 and Hazlewood 2006). Many of these reforms are influenced by the growing body of evidence concerning the impact of problem based learning and constructivist philosophy which place 'the activity students complete as they study at the heart of the curriculum' (Reeves, Herrington and Oliver 2002). Consequently, programs such as the New Basics are built round a sequence of Rich Tasks centred on a challenge or problem with 'real-world value' (Department of Education and the Arts 2004). In bringing together many different disciplines, these tasks attempt to provide an integrated rather than a subject based curriculum. The advocates of this type of curriculum further argue that it prepares young people for a world in which the speed of change is becoming exponential and where 'uncertainty is the only certainty' (Barker and Hazlewood 2005).

Nonetheless, many aspects of this 'new' approach have longer antecedents and have attracted criticism in the past. Integrated, enquiry based curricula and child-centred approaches were much criticised in the 1980s for leading to badly managed classrooms and poor teaching (Poulson 2001) with many of the current debates proving the adage that in education 'revolutions are circles'. This article analyses the criticisms of and proposed alternatives to the subject based curriculum. It argues that there is no innate reason why subjects, in this case history, cannot be effective in meeting the demands of the twenty first century. Problems lie at the heart of history, and the subject must embrace a problem based methodology, but one within the rigour provided by a sound knowledge base (Haydn 1996). The evidence to support these arguments comes largely from the research, development and evaluation of a series of multimedia CD ROMs produced to support the study of Scottish History. These arguments also help to counter concerns over the impact of ICT on teaching and learning in the classroom (Selwyn 1999). This article argues that multimedia and ICT can help keep history relevant in the twenty first century.

2 The Curriculum, Not Fit For Purpose?

In a disparaging assessment of the curriculum in the lower secondary school, Patrick Hazlewood, Head Teacher of St John's School, Malborough, criticised the 'incoherent jumble of 'subjects' with little planned interconnectivity; repetition, planned or otherwise, is increasingly evident….' The educational diet for today's pupils was little different to that experienced by their parents and grandparents. Furthermore, the curriculum failed to develop the knowledge and skills necessary for the 'information age'. Herein, a constant theme revolved around the potential of ICT to affect learning, the learning environment and equality of access (Hazlewood 2005).

Implied criticism of the existing curriculum lies behind the New Basic Project in Queensland which aims to:

'…. empower and encourage teachers, unclutter the curriculum, up the ante intellectually, deliver fewer alienated students, prepare students for a future in an uncertain world, and position the classroom within the global village' (Department of Education and the Arts 2004).

In Scotland, concerns about the relevance and structure of the curriculum led the Scottish Executive to establish a review group in 2004 which produced a report entitled, A Curriculum for Excellence. The aims of the reform, as outlined in this report, bear more than a passing similarity to that in New Basics. These include reducing fragmentation, encouraging intellectual skills and connecting the various stages of learning (A Curriculum for Excellence 2004).

Across different countries and education systems, the remedies for the perceived curriculum malaise bear more than a passing similarity since they espouse a competence based curriculum, integration and authentic problem-solving learning. Beane's version of middle schools in America was for a curriculum organised round 'rich and provocative themes' rather than abstract and artificial subjects. These themes included Identities, Living in the Future and Wellbeing to develop skills encompassing problem solving, computation, communication and research (Beane 1991). The New Basics Project is built around the three pillars of productive pedagogies, such as problem based learning; the curriculum organisers of citizenship, life pathways, multi-literacies, environment and technology alongside a sequence of rich tasks drawing on multi-disciplinary knowledge and skills (Queensland State Education 2004).

The advocates of reform further agree that the curriculum should be based round competences rather than subjects. The competences in opening minds relate to learning, citizenship, managing information, relating to people and managing situations. These competences divide into several categories. Learning encompasses understanding how to learn, learning to think systematically, learning to enjoy learning, understanding and using creative talents set within high standards in literacy, numeracy and ICT (Royal Society of Arts 2006). The Curriculum for Excellence programme in Scotland outlined four purposes of the curriculum with successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors. Using similar terminology to Opening Minds, A Curriculum for Excellence subdivides learning into categories including enthusiasm for learning, high standards, literacy, numeracy and communication, use of technology and thinking creativity (Curriculum for Excellence 2006). The practical working out of these reforms downplays subjects which suffer further ignominy in being linked to the new right (Rauling 2000). By way of contrast, the competence led curriculum develops integrated modules which in Queensland begin in Year 1 with webpage design where students collect information about themselves, their school and their community using that information to design web pages. The tasks culminate in Year 9 with International Trade where pupils carry out a detailed analysis of an export opportunity taking advantage of their skills in a language other than English to present a talk and supporting literature to promote the export opportunity to different subjects and backers (Department of Education and the Arts 2004).

These and other similarly integrated tasks (Bosher and Hazlewood 2005) demonstrate many of the key characteristics of authentic learning/critical skills whereby pupils engage with real life challenges within an experiential learning cycle (Weatherley, Bonney, Kerr and Morrison 2003). Each challenge features:

. History Education, an Opportunity for Multimedia

Many of the recent changes to History Education trace their origins back to the late 1960s and early 1970s with criticisms of didactic teaching methods which made the subject '... excruciatingly, dangerously dull, and what is more little apparent relevance' (Price 1968). Fairley (1970) labelled the teaching of history in Scottish schools as a 'desperate race through the centuries to examine fleetingly the vicissitudes of fortune that befell an interminable procession of Kings, Barons and Archbishops (which) often provided the school learner with nothing beyond a set of imperfectly understood facts and ill digested notions'. The way ahead for history lay in a more varied pedagogy employing an active, investigative and problem based approach using primary and secondary sources (Fairley 1967).

These approaches are now embedded in syllabuses from primary through to the final stages of secondary school. The 5-14 programme in Scotland sets out general curriculum guidelines from primary 1 to secondary 2. Enquiry skills in Environmental Studies, which encompasses history, include the following features:

. The Multimedia CD ROMs

Over the past fourteen years we have produced multimedia CD ROMs on themes relating to some of the major social and economic trends in the nineteenth and twentieth century Scotland, notably, Highland clearance, industrialisation and urbanisation. We are currently working on an eighth CD ROM examining changes in lowland rural Scotland using as a base the journal kept by a farmer in Banffshire between 1879 - 1892. The other programs are:

Moving House (1993) which analyses increasing social segregation in nineteenth century Glasgow;

Tiree, Famine and Clearance 1840 - 1900 (1996). The Highland Clearances are often presented as a uniform sequence of changes but this hides considerable regional variations. The small island of Tiree provides a case study into Highland Clearance and subsequent emigration to Canada;

Glasgow, A Tale of Two Cities(1999). Rapid industrialisation and urbanisation led to increasing disparities of wealth and living conditions. These disparities provide the context for this CD ROM examining contrasting lifestyles;

Auld Reekie and The Dear Green Place(2001). This develops many themes within A Tale of Two Cities to compare life in Edinburgh (Auld Reekie) and Glasgow (The Dear Green Place) in the nineteenth century;

Changing Scotland, Scottish Society 1880 - 1939 (2003). Industrialisation and urbanisation changed many aspects of Scottish society from education and housing to religion and sport. Changing Scotland allows pupils to examine how these and other aspects of life in Scotland changed between 1880 - 1939;

Barnhill (2005). The film Oliver helps shape many perceptions of Victorian society, but Barnhill presents the reality of poverty and the workhouse. Barnhill, the largest Poorhouse in Scotland, provides pupils with a case study into a central response to the growing numbers of poor in urban Scotland.

The aim of providing teachers and pupils with a wide and diverse range of primary sources lay behind research, design and development as illustrated by Auld Reekie and The Dear Green Place and Barnhill. Census databases run as a spine through each program: the 1851 and 1891 censuses in Auld Reekie to allow a comparison over time; the 1881 census in Barnhill provides information on the 'officers' and 'inmates' in the Poorhouse. Although the censuses only provide a snapshot of the population in a given day, they remain an invaluable primary source giving unique and fascinating insights into society. An indication of standards of living is provided by age profiles in different parts of each city; the recording of occupations highlights diverse and varied employment opportunities in the wake of industrialisation and urbanisation; surnames point the way to patterns of migration with more detailed evidence contained under places of birth while 'rooms with one or more windows' indicates both property type and locality. Held within a database, census information helps pupils discern socio-economic trends and follow, as will be discussed more fully in the article, the key historical process of framing questions, researching for answers and presenting findings.

Auld Reekie and The Dear Green Placetakes different streets in each city as case studies into contracting lifestyles. Royal Terrace whose residents read as a 'who's who' of Edinburgh Society (Mitchell 1993), contrasted with the Cowgate, a working class slum area with Sandyford Place, Malta and Norfolk Streets representing 'rich' and 'poor' districts in Glasgow. The 'virtual' entrance to these streets comes via the 1896 Ordnance Survey map whereby clicking on a property brings up a menu of information, depending on the traceability of sources, including photographs and profiles relating to the head of the family, photographs of the property and the census returns for 1851 and 1891. Census data is held within a V12 search engine allowing fast, single and multiple field searches, such as for all servants born in Ireland.

Information in the census points the way to avenues for further investigation, for example, a search for 'children under the age of twelve' leads into education and 'age greater than 55' into life expectancy/health and housing. These and other avenues for investigation form the basis of chapters within the program. Chapters begin with Teacher Notes covering the historical context, explanations of the program, suggested follow up activities including field studies and detailed outlines on how each chapter links to the national 5 - 14 programme. Most chapters, however, relate to historical themes such as health and housing, a servant's life, education, clothing and religion. These chapters hold a plethora of primary sources notably photographs, film, drawings, autobiographical accounts, newspapers, advertisements, music, maps, diagrams, menus and recipes such as those found Beeton's Everyday Cookery (1907). Explanatory text links these sources and sets each within the overall theme.

In planning the early CD ROMs considerable discussion took place around the inclusion of student tasks. Concern was expressed that these could restrict how teachers used the resources, but excluding such tasks limited the scope to develop knowledge and skills. Moreover, the real world of the primary school classroom demands that teachers cover the whole curriculum necessitating appropriate support. Consequently, the programs, including Auld Reekie and the Dear Green Place, incorporate a range of student tasks with an accompanying folder containing paper based supporting activities. These 'on' and 'off' computer based tasks aim to develop knowledge and skills. Therefore, pupils complete various written tasks building to extended accounts, critically evaluate evidence, discuss and debate central issues, recreate the past through drama, imagine themselves as people in the past, devise, carry out and report on questionnaires, make decisions about areas for investigation; carry out the necessary research and create a wide variety of art and craft based resources, to name but a few of the activities within Auld Reekie. The program also contains 'interactive' boxes into which pupils type their answers/findings.

Barnhill includes a similar series of primary sources with the census databases covering the Poorhouse itself alongside Girvan and Luss where children were boarded out. These sit alongside film, photographs, contemporary accounts and other similar sources. Taking its cue from authentic learning/critical skills, the program concludes with the Barnhill Challenge in which pupils are presented with a scenario set in 2080 when building work on the site of the old Poorhouse revealed artefacts from the nineteenth century. These artefacts included the remains of a bread oven, a suitcase, child's cot, school desk, long dining table and hammer used to break stones. Pupils are called in to investigate as teams of archaeologists with links provided to websites such as TimeTeam ( to provide guidance and support. The scenario then develops into the opening of a new museum of social work which wishes to display three recently discovered artefacts from Barnhill. Teams of pupils must prepare a presentation to convince a panel of experts, in this case the Head Teacher and the local librarian, to display three artefacts which each team considers best illustrates life in a Poorhouse. Presentations must also set the Poorhouse in its wider context of the nineteenth century. Authentic learning aims to integrate assessment into the challenge and in this case pupils have to complete an evaluation sheet for the panel of experts to use when judging each presentation. Completion of this assessment sheet involved decisions regarding the criteria for an effective presentation, logical order, clear voice, and other similar features, which were then listed on a given template for comments by the panel under each criterion. Consequently, assessment and feedback came via a format largely devised by pupils supplemented by two 'positive' and one 'negative' observation from the class after each presentation. However, this represented only one of several ways in which teachers and pupils have used the CD ROMs.


5 In the Classroom

Teachers and lecturers have used the CD ROMs in more diverse and varied ways than was envisaged when they were produced. In most cases the relevant program supported the associated topic, for example, Auld Reekie and the Dear Green Place linked to the Victorians and Changing Scottish Society linked to the impact of industrialisation and urbanisation. In these instances, pupils were drawn from the target audience, upper primary for Auld Reekie and upper secondary for Changing Scottish Society, but schools have also used the programs as part of different topics to the original historical context. Tarbert, a small fishing and tourist village on Loch Fyne, holds a sailing regatta each September with the local high school using this to support a study into how tourism affects the local area. Tarbert features as a case study in Doon the Watter and the CD ROM helped form the basis of a comparative study into tourism past and present. Other schools used appropriate sections of the program to support a River study. 'The program was used', noted one school, 'as an additional multimedia tool and database to enhance a study of Rivers and how they have changed. The whole program was therefore not completely relevant'. In a school located close to the River Clyde, the program gave information about Govan shipyards and details of Clyde Ferries for a tile display which has the Clyde as a theme.

When using the CD ROMs, teachers organised classes in different ways largely determined by computer provision. Computer suites allowed a whole class to work on the program at the one time. One teacher reported that this 'made it easy to organise the work for either individuals, groups or the class.' The suite also helped the teacher explain and discuss sources such as the census database to the whole class rather than repeatedly to different groups:

'The children all worked in pairs with their own CD's in the computer

room, which has 14 i-macs. I would give an introductory lesson,

then the children would open up their CD's and carry out the tasks.'

In a similar manner, a smartboard facilitated explanations of 'how to use the CD ROM Changing Scottish Society to the whole class at the start'. Other schools could work in a similar way with a trolley based laptop system allowing pupils to work in pairs. Nonetheless, the most common method of organisation resulted from two or three computers in the classroom with groups or pairs of pupils moving to and from the computers to complete a specific task while other pupils worked on a related piece of work, often printed from the CD ROM:

'There were 2 to 3 pupils working together on the same program

at 3 computers. After twenty minutes they changed over. I have

32 in the class, this was the only way I could organise each session

to ensure as many pupils as possible could take part.'

Most groups were organised on a mixed ability basis:

'The class was arranged in mixed ability topic groups. These

groups then worked at the computer together where children who

are more capable readers helped others.'

The CD ROMs provided a central but not the sole resource within the topic. Other resources encompassed video, newspapers, photographs, paintings and fiction. Class and school libraries provided books either for periods of silent reading in class time or home reading. Popular examples were books by Fidler (1984) and Updale (2004). Where the program supported topics such as the Victorians they were allocated two afternoons a week for one term.

Artefacts allowed pupils to handle real objects with some, notably, coins, lace, photographs and irons, begged or borrowed from home. These stimulated discussions over a purpose, method of working, the people who would have used specific implements and present day comparisons (Wallace 2003). In a similar vein, teachers and pupils supplemented the suggested activities within each CD ROM with rich tasks, especially those based on art work and field studies. One school used Doon the Watter to generate ideas and images for a display covering two sides of the classroom with life-sized drawings of children fishing off a pier fronting a seaside scene surrounded by drawings and photographs of people enjoying their holidays. Pupils designed and wrote imaginary postcards from holidaymakers, made up menus for the very elaborate dinners served to first class passengers and made holiday hats from papier-mâché. Many people in Victorian Glasgow bought two hats during the year, one for the New Year and another for the Glasgow Fair holiday. Barnhill supported similar activities, notably a hand sewn frieze depicting the Poorhouse. The programs therefore embed tasks which exploit both computer and non-computer based activities. One teacher summed up the benefits accruing from these types of activity such as the frieze:

'Apart from the computer the children have enjoyed the work

and the technology. They enjoyed working together in groups

and they enjoyed problem solving as to how to make the range

and make the frieze figures …. I think that tells us something as teachers since students are looking for challenges - looking for opportunities to use those skills and to work together. I think this is a very positive reaction from them.'

This evaluation of the supporting activities leads into the more detailed pupil and teacher evaluation of the CD ROMs.

6 Evaluations

Pupils' and teachers' evaluation of various aspects of each program was gauged through questionnaires, interviews, co-operative teaching with the author and class teachers combined with production of DVDs showing pupils working with the CD ROMs. This article analyses the results of pupil questionnaires completed by ninety two pupils aged 11 and 12 years and three teachers using Auld Reekie and Doon the Watter; fifty nine pupils aged 11 and 12 years and two teachers for Barnhill and twenty four pupils aged 16 and 17 and their teacher who used Changing Scottish Society. Questionnaires and selected follow up interviews covered several areas, but this article focuses on:

. Pupils

Changing Scotland proved less popular than other CD ROMs with thirty percent of pupils claiming not to have enjoyed the program. The most common reason related to taking 'time away from examination revision'. 'I have missed out' noted one pupil, 'on revision time due to this and find books easier to use'. These negative comments may have partly resulted from timing since pupils studied the topic at the end of the course. It will feature earlier in future courses further away from the looming presence of the examination. Positive comments unanimously made reference to variety and pace of learning:

'(the program) makes a change to the normal reading and

writing answers. Provides variety and you can do it at your

own pace'.

Of the ninety two pupils evaluating Auld Reekie, ninety three percent stated that they had enjoyed working with the CD ROM citing reasons such as it 'helped you learn', 'showed you about Glasgow and Edinburgh' and 'you could find information':

'it was fun and it showed what the Victorians in Glasgow and

Edinburgh lived like'.

Criticisms included the program being 'boring', 'having too much to read' and 'not being into that particular topic':

'I did not enjoy it (Doon the Watter) because it is not what I am

interested in stuff like the Clyde, paddle steamers and the olden times'.

Others were more equivocal:

'it was quite interesting finding out different things but other times

it could be quite boring'.

Teachers, to some extent, mirrored the criticism of 'having too much to read', with one noting that pupils did not enjoy 'any page with too much script they were impatient to continue and reluctant to take the time to read it'. In designing and writing these programs, the authors tread a fine line between maintaining in as much as possible the integrity of sources, including challenging texts for more able pupils, providing for those requiring more support and including a hyperlinked glossary of words and phrases. The possibly imperfect solution has been to record an increasing number of sources in successive CD ROMs. Every extract from the farmer's journal in the latest program was recorded by an actor born in the same area as James Wilson, but with a toned down north east Scotland accent!

In Auld Reekie and Doon the Watter, the most commonly studied primary sources were film, photographs, census databases, drawings, maps and first hand accounts. A similar pattern emerged in the evaluation of Changing Scottish Society where seventy four percent of pupils rated the census database as the most useful source in studying the effects of urbanisation. Fifty six percent rated film, and forty nine percent the first hand accounts as the most useful sources. The reasons given for these ratings demonstrated that pupils understood the merits of primary sources. Film, 'almost takes me back in time so it made life at the time easier to imagine'; First hand accounts, 'well if you had to ask anyone about life in the past it would be the people living then'; Census databases, 'when I used Doon the Watter I used the database to find out where people lived and it told me what sort of people lived in different houses …'. This had a personal relevance for one pupil who 'went into the database to see who was living in my house at that time'.

Each CD ROM contains a wide variety of tasks alongside possible associated activities such as visiting part of the local area built by the Victorians. Within the programs, searching the database was attempted by every pupil while a related field study and compiling a wall display were the most common associated activities. Pupils rated highly the benefits of their wall displays: 'because a wall display shows you what it was like', and 'because (it) allowed us to put our work together'.

The CD ROMs require and aim to develop a wide variety of skills from using a database to writing answers to questions. Table 1 shows the number of pupils in three schools giving improvement in a particular skill the top two ratings.

Table 1 Skill Improvement


School, CD ROM, Number of Pupils

A. Doon the Watter N = 30

B. Auld Reekie

N = 32

C. Barnhill

N = 28

Searching a database




Using a computer




Working by myself




Using a map




Working as part of a group




Looking for in information




Writing answers to questions








These figures illustrate a consistent thread running between the primary sources, notably the census databases, the activities and pupils' perception of skill improvement.

Looking for information, searching the databases and working by myself/part of a group came under the umbrella of research and independent learning. This was highly valued by pupils:

'It (Auld Reekie) made me have good information for my research';

'It was more fun than sitting listening to the teacher telling us things,

we could find out what we wanted';

'I could look at what I wanted and it was easy to find'.

However, it is important to emphasise that since the CD ROMs were one, albeit the central resources, it is difficult to isolate ICT as the sole factor in relation to skills such as reading. A similar difficulty emerges when trying to gauge enhancements to knowledge. Nevertheless, only four pupils could correctly identify before working through Changing Scottish Society five ways in which industrialisation and urbanisation effected Scottish society. At the end of the unit every pupil could list five consequences and, while the CD ROM was not the only source, it was main provider of information. In a similar finding, pupils could list five key features of life in Victorian times after working through Auld Reekie, but claims which attribute this to ICT must be tentative as textbooks and other resources supplemented the CD ROM.

A separate section in the questionnaires on Barnhill evaluated the challenge to gauge the impact of this critical skills activity. Pupils worked either in pairs or groups of three with the nurse's uniform, suitcase, basket and desk the most commonly selected 'artefacts'. 'We chose these', recorded one pupil, 'so people could see that children were boarded out and that there was a school in Barnhill'. The increasingly ubiquitous powerpoint provided the means to give the presentations with pupils engaged in the following multifarious tasks:

. Teachers

The generally positive pupil comments were echoed by their teachers. On a scale from 1 (very enthusiastic) to 5 (did not enjoy) teachers gave the CD ROMs either 1 or 2 in terms of pupil enjoyment. This largely resulted from the sources within each program since pupils enjoyed 'using the database. Comparing then and now pictures (particularly Helensburgh) and watching films'. Another teacher noted that her pupils enjoyed 'the film extracts, pictures and songs based on Glasgow'. These primary sources 'helped pupils see how time effects change'. In another school, Doon the Watter showed 'the value of evidence in investigations' and 'selecting appropriate information'. However, the most common observation regarding skills concerned the database which 'increased keyboard skills' with pupils becoming 'more familiar with using a database/carrying out searches'. This was noted by every teacher except one since 'many pupils use computers at home and we have a structured computer program in school, therefore actual skills now learned were few, but it did reinforce existing skills'.

The CD ROMs influenced the teacher's role by supporting independent enquiry based learning. According to a teacher, 'one of the most important parts was the experience of teacher and pupil learning together about the topic. Pupils polished their research skills'. Auld Reekie brought 'a new dimension to research which the children had not experienced in school before. They found it enjoyable and interesting. This enhanced their enthusiasm for the topic'. In a similar manner, Doon the Watter 'increased research skills, organisational skills and presentational skills' while 'a group of children, when set a task, could work well together with the minimum of teacher input'. Teachers did not view this as in any way detracting from their role. Their role changed but not to the detriment of teaching and learning. Nonetheless, independent learning had its limits and teachers required carefully to monitor pupils' work. One teacher noted: 'sometimes they need help in actually coming to some conclusions with the information that is on the computer. They make assumptions very quickly, have reasons for things happening which might not be the correct ones so just leading them through that a bit more carefully'.

These comments were repeated in another school: 'the accuracy of the content in some cases highlighted a need for research to be more thorough and more closely monitored by the teacher to achieve a greater understanding of the period'. This supplemented the more traditional roles from preparation through to reporting on pupil attainment.

Teachers were unanimous in saying that they would use the CD ROM in future years, but with modifications:

'In using (Barnhill) again I would narrow the topic area to be

covered, perhaps focus on life in Barnhill and link to Boarding

Out as this was particularly relevant to the age group using it

and the area of the school to Luss. This would hopefully lead

to a greater knowledge of the period and lifestyle'.

This evaluation typified most comments and it may be the case that the CD ROMs are too ambitious in the areas covered although they were intended as a menu from which teachers could chose relevant parts. Other negative comments related to technical problems running the program on a network and the inability to save notes. The networking problem stemmed from the installer with the program which pointed 'running the program' to the CD ROM but then was re-coded to point it to the network drive. In Changing Scottish Society notes are saved to a separate folder on the user's hard drive created when installing the program. Overall, however, the generally supportive evaluations encouraged the research and production of subsequent programs.

9 Conclusions

The research, design, development and evaluation of the CD ROMs took place against the backdrop of subjects being criticised for being territorial spaces, 'limiting our access to broader meanings' (Beane 1991) and claims that they hinder pupils developing the skills needed for the twenty first century (Bosher and Hazlewood 2005). This study suggests that these criticisms are not necessarily the inevitable consequences of studying a subject such as history especially when it draws on and develops a wide variety of skills, particularly in the new technologies, to enhance its relevance. This is no radical departure in that the effective teaching and learning of history has always done more than develop subject knowledge. A history essay draws on many skills from analysis to synthesis.

Evaluation of the CD ROMs suggests some pointers to the future. It would have been theoretically possible to present pupils with the individual examples of the sources contained in each program. While it is important that pupils handle artefacts and sources such as the census in the 'raw', multimedia provides a more manageable and sophisticated format. It would take a considerable length of time to search through enumerators' returns looking for everyone born in Ireland, whereas a database performs the task in seconds. Moreover, the multimedia format motivated pupils to learn and related to 'their' world. As one teacher noted:

'I would always choose to work on a computer based topic because

of the wealth of information, pictures etc all contained on a CD ROM.

It also increases pupils' IT skills and equips them for the world in

which they live'

However, it is important that multimedia moves beyond providing a repository for primary and secondary sources. The potential is realised when it draws on enquiry methods learning utilising investigations, critical skills and authentic learning, History with the puzzle and the intellectual satisfaction of 'finding out'. Doon the Watter helped one pupil learn about the past 'because of the good research and the database … I looked at how people spent their time on holiday. I looked at how people got entertainment like from bands at the band stand. I used the pictures and video to gather information on how people got there and what they did there'. Here lies a powerful justification for teaching history, not that it changes society, but as Lee (1992) argued, 'it changes pupils; it changes what they see in the world, and how they see it…. To say that someone has learnt history is to say something very wide ranging about the way he or she is likely to make sense of the world'.

In each program the design of tasks exploited the potential of technology, but the process also worked in reverse with the technology opening up new and more sophisticated lines of enquiry. Multimedia drew the pupils in to explore, enquire and investigate. Authentic learning/critical skills enhanced these processes fulfilling its potential to present 'real life' challenges. Moreover, historical knowledge anchored authentic learning in a context providing pupils with a scaffold on which to develop further knowledge and a wide range of skills. This avoided the potential pitfall in critical skills of decontextualising the tasks. History, therefore, provides an ideal mode for developing pupils' skills of enquiry through the use of ICT and of ICT in terms of information literacy, a crucial skill in today's world (Moore 2000).

The authors would not claim that their arguments negate alternative ways to organise either subjects or authentic learning. With appropriate support in the form of resources and training, subjects provide a flexible platform to develop the skills required for the twenty first century. In his final comment on Auld Reekie, one pupil noted that he wanted to give the program 9 out of 10. The developers of multimedia need no more encouragement.

10 References

Alleman, J. and Brophy, J. (1993). Is Curriculum Integration a Boon or a Threat to Social Studies? Social Education 57 (6), 287-291.

Bailin, S., Case, R., Coombs, J. and Daniels, L. (1999). Common Misconceptions of Critical Thinking: Journal of Curriculum Studies 1999 (31), 269-283.

Beane, J. (1991). The Middle School. The Natural Home of Integrated Curriculum, Educational Leadership, 49 (2), 9-13.

Beeton, I. (1907). Everyday Cookery, Ward Lock: London.

Bosher, M., and Hazlewood P. (Eds.) (2005) Nurturing Independent Thinkers, Network Educational Press: Stafford.

Boyd, B. (1997). The Statutory Years of Secondary Education: Change and Progress in Clark, M.M. and Munn, P. (Eds.) Education in Scotland Policy and Practice from Pre-School to Secondary, Routledge: London, 52-68.

Conlon, T. (1999). Critical Thinking Required or Seven Deadly Sins of Information Technology, Scottish Affairs, 28, 117-146.

Cuban, L. (2001). Oversold and Underused, Computers in the Classroom, Harvard University Press: Cambridge: Mass.

Curriculum for Excellence (2006). About a Curriculum for Excellence. Accessed online on 19 September 2006 at

Department of Education and the Arts (2006). The New Basics Project, Queensland, Australia. Accessed online 22 August 2006 at:

Department of Education and the Arts (2004). Rich Tasks. Accessed online on 22 August 2006 at

Fairley, J. (1967). Activity Methods in History, Nelson: London.

Fairley, J. (1970). Patch History and Creativity, Longman: London.

Fidler, K. (1984). The Desperate Journey, Canongate: Edinburgh.

Hazelwood, P. (2005). The Challenge for Education in the Twenty First Century, in Bosher, M. and Hazelwood, P. (Eds.) Nurturing Independent Thinkers, Network Educational Press: Stafford, 10-12.

Hazlewood, P. (2006). Curriculum for the New Century, RSA Journal, Feb. 2006, 20-21.

Haydn, T. (1996) Thinking, Computers and History, History Computer Review, 12(2), 13 - 23.

Herrington, J., Reeves, T., Oliver, R. and Woo, Y. (2004). Designing Authentic Activities in Web-Based Courses, Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 16 (1), 3-29.

Hutchinson, J. (2005). Learning about the Civil War Through Soldiers Letters, Social Education, 69 (6), 318-322.

Learning and Teaching Scotland (2000). 5 - 14 National Guidelines, Environmental Studies, Society; Science and Technology, Dundee.

Lebow, D. and Wager, W. (1994). Authentic Activity or a Model for Appropriate Learning Activity: Implications for Emerging Instructional Technologies, Canadian Journal of Educational Communication. 20 (3), 231-244.

Lee, P. (1991). Historical Knowledge in the National Curriculum in Aldrich, R. (Ed.) History in the National Curriculum, Kogan Page: London, 39-63.

Lee,P. (1992). History in School: Aims, Purposes and Approaches. A Reply to John White', in Lee, P., Slater, J., Walsh, P. and White, J., The Aims of School History: The National Curriculum and Beyond, Tufnell Press: London, 23-24.

Mitchell, A. (1993). The People of Calton Hill, Mercat Press: Edinburgh.

Moore, R. (2000). Using the Internet to Teach About Interpretations in History,

Teaching History, 101, 35-40

Munro, N. (2003). Radical New Look for the Curriculum, Times Education Supplement Scotland, 3 October, 1.

Oppenheimer, T. (1997). The Computer Delusion. The Atlantic Monthly. Accessed online on 21 February 2001 at

Potter, L.A. (2004). On the Other Side, Social Education, 68 (6), 376-380.

Potter, L.A. (2005). Teaching Civics with Primary Documents, Social Education, 69 (7), 358-367.

Poulson, M. (2001). Paradigm Lost? Subject Knowledge, Primary Teachers and Education Policy. British Journal of Educational Studies, 49, 1, 40-55.

Price, M. (1968). History in Danger. Teaching History, 53, 342-7.

Queensland State Education (2004). The New Basics Project, Brisbane.

Rawling, E. (2000). The Policies and Practicalities of Curriculum Change 1991 - 2000: Issues Arising from a Study of School Geography in England, British Journal of Educational Studies 49, 2, 137-158.

Reeves, T.C., Herrington, J. and Oliver, R. (2002). Authentic Activities and Online Learning in Goody, A., Herrington, J. and Northcote, M. (Eds.) Quality Conversations, Proceedings of the Annual International Conference of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australia. The Higher Education Research and Development Society: Perth, 562-567.

Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (2006). Resources Directory. Accessed online on 9 August 2006 available at

The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (2006) Opening Minds The New Curriculum, Accessed online on 17 February 2006 at

Schick, J.B.M. (1996). Multi-Media: What, Why and Why Not? in Lehrers, J.P., Martin, M., and Hendrickx, F. (1996) (Eds.). Information Technology for History Education, University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg, 235-251.

Schick, J.B.M. (2000). Taxonomy of Interactivity, History Computer Review, 16 (1), 15-28.

Scottish Executive Education Department (2004). A Curriculum for Excellence, Accessed online on 14 September 2004 at

Scottish Qualifications Authority (1999). History: Advanced Higher Course, Edinburgh.

Scottish Qualifications Authority (1997). Standard Grade Arrangements for History, Edinburgh.

Seixas, P. (1998). Student Teachers Thinking Historically, Theory and Research in Social Education, 26 (3), 310-341.

Selwyn, N. (1999). Why the Computer is not Dominating Schools: A Failure of Policy or a Failure of Practice? Cambridge Journal of Education; 29 (1), 77-91.

University of Strathclyde and Northern College of Education (2000). The Impact of Information and Communication Initiatives in Scottish Schools: Glasgow, Scotland.

Updale, E. (2004). Montmorency, Scholastic Point: London.

Wallace, B. (2003). Using History to Develop Thinking Skills. David Fulton: London.

Wild, M. (1989). History and the New Technologies in Schools: Problems, Possibilities and the Way Forward in Denley, P., Fogelvik, S. and Harvey, C. (Eds) (1989) History and Computing II. Manchester University Press: Manchester, 20-34.