About “City and the Past in Digital” for schools

It has been four months already that the Center for Urban History, jointly with a group of Kyiv based researchers, are developing an educational; online platform "City of the 20th century through the prism of digital era."

Under the project, the team is developing three pilot blocks that include research work, collection and digitalization of materials, production of visual and text narratives, as well as developments for methods guides for their implementation into the educational process.

In this series of publications, we are covering the course of the project, the inner workings of individual blocks, and share our opinions and challenges.

Find more details about the development of the block intended to work with teachers and formal educational institutions - "City and Personal Experiences of War"

About the overall idea of the block for schools and teachers

The design of the block is an attempt to find the adapted vocabulary, form, approaches, and tools enabling the spread of materials and topics that the Center for Urban History develops for and with teachers and schools. In a broader sense, the block of educational platform shall become a forum for a dialogue between researchers, educators, and pupils focusing on the content and the tools.

Theme-wise, the focus will be on the story about places, streets, and routes, as a possibility to spot in the urban space the conflicting history of the 20th century. In terms of methods, the project is an opportunity to engage teachers and pupils to different forms of digital tools. The approach also allows to test the capacity of digital tools in formal education to research and visualize narratives about the history of the city.

The block is developed by a large group of experts (teachers, methods developers, education practitioners, researchers) who design, test, and develop different scenarios for educational products (lessons, general education class, specialized courses) through the use of materials and topics developed by the Lviv Interactive project.

Why teachers? 

The strategy of educational programs of the Center for Urban History have an important focus to design expert environment among educators. Teachers are key broadcasters of experiences, skills, and knowledge for children. They can help rethink the heritage and implement new approaches to interpret and use it. Over a long time, we have been cooperating with teachers in different formats, either long or short. The platform can be an invitation to co-create a permanent space for a dialogue between researchers and educators.


Why digital?

Digital education is successfully gaining study platforms in European universities. Interdisciplinary centers on digital history or humanities, virtual laboratories become the new educational branches who promote conventional faculties with their focus on one subject. Digital format of materials can provide accessibility and an opportunity to scale up, while tools and interactive forms can help better motivation of a teacher and a pupil.

Why these stories and topics?

It is becoming relevant to search not only for new methods, training approaches and strategies, but also new stories. They allow to see the past of the city through the prism of individual experiences. Most developments focus on how to deal with contested, controversial, and conflicting topics of the shared historical heritage. How can teachers and pupils together reflect on moral issues and challenges, and also on what the responsible attitude to the past is. The developed materials imply different scenarios to discuss the topics, both during formal school classes, and non-formal practical tasks as part of school or extra-mural education.

On competences 

According to recommendations of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, school curriculum shall form a set of competences for teachers and pupils. When developing the content, methodology, and tools for educational block, we took into account such general and expert skills and competences as informational digital (helps mastering new information technologies, the ability to select, analyze, evaluate information, systematize it, use information sources for one’s own learning and growth), historical (chronological, spatial, linguistic, axiological). In addition to professional competences, we also included and took into account the development of key and general competences such as the learning ability, general cultural (communicative) competence, social and work competence, informational competence.

Research

When shaping the topics, their essence, structure of materials, the interface and the content, we believe it important to listen to expert opinions. Before and during the development of materials, we conducted focus groups of online questionnaire with educational actors.

Structure and navigation, tag cross system, search by key terms

When the team was developing structure and design of the platform, there was a temptation to “pack in” the materials into dozens of categories, filters, and group them by topics/approaches/audiences/school activities. The list could be extended and expanded, but we only stopped at easy-to-use and a good search engine.

Navigator. At the start of development, it was important for the team to understand the efficiency ratio of the future materials. Can the materials be interesting, where are they applicable, how can they be implemented into current curriculum, strategies, and plans? This is where the idea of a navigator was born. It was about the possibility to implement materials into existing school curriculum and syllabi. It is a sort of a large table of data, the list of topics and stories published on the webpage of the Lviv Interactive project. Each of them will have the recommendations and comments attached, with references to curricula, courses, and syllabi to implement a variant of curricula, topics, or sections of disciplines.

Search of materials and key terms. To navigate the resource materials, we developed the cross system of tags to help locate the required information: by topics, by timeline and periods, by stories and events, by general topics, by titles from syllabi, by approaches, by competences, by subjects, by areas. We hope teachers will find it easy to navigate the materials they might need for teaching, depending on the request and their need.

Types and forms of the published materials. Theready scenarios of the year, webinars, study videos, materials data basis, references, articles and readers, methodological recommendations, tools, games and gamified products, reviews and translated articles, bets practices and experiences.

The project is part of the educational online platform "City and the Past in Digital." Educational platform will offer to University lecturers and school teachers some practical recommendations and materials to teach the 20th century history and culture through the prism of local stories and micro-histories, some approaches to design new topics within the available curricula, tools to develop practical skills for digital tools. The online resource will include approaches of formal and non-formal education based on outcomes of the Lviv Interactive project.

The project is implemented with support of the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation.

Material – by Khrystyna Boyko, coordinator of the block "City and Personal Experiences of War."