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Digital Narrative as an Educational Tool for Cultural Heritage Teaching

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Abstract

Our age is unquestionably characterized by the dominance of technology and digital media in all manifestations of human action. Inevitably, the debate over the use of these media becomes more intense in areas that are extremely important for the intellectual development of man, such as the field of culture and education. This reality leads educational systems to adapt curricula to new developments, so that digital media is now a key educational tool for many courses. Especially in the subject of history and especially of local history and folklore, digital storytelling can be the connecting link between the old and the new. This can be very helpful when the lesson plans are aimed at bringing students in touch with cultural heritage, both material and intangible. The present study aims to show that digital storytelling can be used creatively in teaching a local history and folklore course.

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Heritage, as an area of research and learning, often deals with difficult historical questions due to the strong emotions and political commitments that are often at stake. This chapter introduces the set-up of the volume. Its contributions are based on the revised and peer-reviewed papers of the international conference "Tangible Pasts? Questioning Heritage Education", held in Rotterdam, funded by Erasmus University Rotterdam and the Netherlands Organization of Scientific Research. Central issues of the chapters are: historical distance and multiperspectivity; heritage and historical consciousness; experiencing heritage and authenticity; teaching and learning about sensitive heritage.
Conference Paper
We present and discuss the results of a qualitative study aimed at identifying what role interactive digital technologies could play in facilitating the participation of communities at risk of exclusion (particularly migrants and refugees) in cultural and heritage-related activities. Culture and heritage are known to be key factors in fostering social inclusion, and this has the potential for contributing to both the wellbeing of these communities and to cultural institutions themselves. Through surveys and interviews with two cohorts of participants (cultural heritage professionals and community facilitators), we gathered insights about their perspectives on how ICT tools could support their work with and for communities, as well as the challenges they face. This work sheds light on the opportunities and barriers surrounding the use of digital technologies for participation in the cultural heritage sector, which is timely due to the increasing focus on grassroots and community-led heritage initiatives and to the growing body of work on participatory ICT in disciplines such as human-computer interaction and community informatics.
Article
Interactive digital storytelling is becoming a popular choice for information presentation in many fields. Its application spans from the media industry and business information visualization, through digital cultural heritage, serious games, education, to contemporary theater and visual arts. The benefits of this form of multimedia presentation in education are generally recognized, and several studies which explore and support the opinion have been conducted. In addition to discussing the benefits, we wanted to address the challenges of introducing interactive digital storytelling and serious games in the classroom. The challenge of the inherent ambiguity of edutainment, due to opposing features of education and entertainment, is augmented with different viewpoints of multidisciplinary team members. We specifically address the opposing views on artistic liberty, at one side, and technical constraints and historical facts, on the other. In this paper, we present the first findings related to these questions and hope to initiate further discussions in this area.
Article
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine issues associated with user engagement on social media with local history in the North East of Scotland and to focus on a case study of the Buckie and District Fishing Heritage Society, a small but very successful and professionally-run community-based local heritage organisation. Design/methodology/approach A qualitative approach using photo elicitation on social media was deployed in conjunction with analysis of the user interactions and the reach insights provided by Facebook to the page manager. Additionally, a focus group was used. Findings The research, although focussed on an individual case study, offers significant lessons which are more widely applicable in the local history and cultural heritage social media domain. Key aspects include user engagement and how digital storytelling can assist in the documentation of local communities ultimately contributing to local history research and the broader cultural memory. The significance of the image and the photo elicitation methodology is also explored. Social implications The research demonstrates new opportunities for engaging users and displaying historical content that can be successfully exploited by community heritage organisations. These are themes which will be developed within the paper. The research also demonstrates the value of photo elicitation in both historical and wider information science fields as a means of obtaining in-depth quality engagement and interaction with users and communities. Originality/value The research explored the underutilised method of photo elicitation in a local history context with a community possessed of a strong sense of local identity. In addition to exploring the benefits of this method, it presents transferable lessons for how small, community-based history and heritage organisation can engage effectively with their audience.
In recent years much has been written about the declining status of the humanities and the effect this has had on teaching and the curriculum. This article begins by examining some key defenses for teaching and studying the humanities that have been offered in the literature and points to their limitations. It is argued that in a policymaking environment dominated by economic thinking, the justifications for teaching the humanities that are based on identifying its intrinsic and social values are bound to have little appeal for policymakers. It is also maintained that the attempt to justify teaching the humanities based on their possible contribution to increasing production is unconvincing. The article then proposes a new defense for teaching the humanities that stems from recent developments in economic thinking and public policy-making. It is proposed that teaching the humanities can be defended on the basis of its potential contribution to altering consumption patterns and offering ways to convert wealth into happiness more effectively. The article does not suggest that the defense proposed here is the only or best way to defend the humanities, but rather that it can have an important instrumental value in persuading policymakers to invest more in teaching the humanities.
Article
The problem of this study deals with the indifference of the Grade 8 learners of the Elim Primary School towards school History, and its relevance to their everyday lives. The following research question was formulated: What can the Social Sciences teachers at the Elim Primary School do differently to make the subject more relevant and interesting to the Grade 8 learners? It was concluded that the learners had to be more actively involved in the local history of their region. To this end, a series of four local history lessons with as topic Heritage - The village of Elim: past and present was designed and implemented. The lessons were mainly for enrichment purposes, linked to Heritage Day of 24 September, and to create interest in and enjoyment of the study of history. The research design was a qualitative single case study of the Elim Primary School's visit to a local heritage site, the Elim Moravian Mission Town. It was a detailed explanatory narrative of the mechanics of a local history teaching strategy - two classroom lessons and two fieldtrips to the heritage site concluded by a feedback, reflection and assessment session in the classroom. The hands-on personal experience of the Grade 8 Social Sciences learners as young historians was illustrated by means of seven images which included images of the material sources and relics and the learners doing history as young historians. The case study resulted in step-by-step guidelines for the preparation and implementation of a local history teaching strategy. The historical imagination of the learners was also operationalised.
Book
While the importance of storytelling can hardly be overestimated, the impact of digitalization on this role is more ambivalent. In this second book-lenght publication of the program Media and Education in the Digital Age - MEDA, the authors take a critical stance towards the alleged emancipative affordances of digital storytelling in education. The collection is inspired by the effort of making professional educators aware of the risks of the digital turn in educational storytelling but also of the opportunities and the conditions for critical engagements. Based on their research and field experience, fifteen scholars discuss in nine chapters these risks and opportunities, providing ideas, evidence, references and inspiration to educators and researchers.
Article
History learning is many times considered dull and demotivating by young students. Probably this is due because the learning process is disconnected from these students' reality and experience. One possible way to overcome this state of matters is to use technology like mobile devices with georeferencing software and local history and heritage sources in a collaborative experimental approach to learning historical concepts of the traditional curriculum. This paper describes a study that has been done with a classroom of 7th graders in the scope of the History discipline and that combines the mentioned ingredients to foster history learning and interest.
Article
Context No Child Left Behind is only the most recent manifestation of a longstanding American impulse to reform schools through accountability systems created from afar. While research has explored the causes and consequences of No Child Left Behind, this study puts the modern accountability movement in longer historical perspective, seeking to identify broader underlying patterns that shape this approach to reform. Purpose and Research Design The study explores the question of the short and longer-term causes of the movement to “rationalize” schools by comparing three major movements demanding accountability in American education across the 20th century: the efficiency reforms of the Progressive Era; the now almost forgotten movement toward accountability in the late 1960s and early 1970s; and the modern standards and accountability movement, culminating in No Child Left Behind. This paper considers the three movements as cases of school “rationalization” in the Weberian sense, in that each sought to reduce variation and discretion across schools in favor of increasingly formal systems of standardized top-down control. Findings This impulse to rationalize schools cannot be explained by interest group or partisan explanations since the reformers defy easy ideological categorization.. Instead, the reforms can be understood as a penetration of “technocratic logic” into the educational sphere. In each movement, this process exhibited a similar pattern: (1) the identification of a crisis of quality which destabilized the existing educational status quo; (2) the elevation of a technocratic logic, backed by the knowledge base of a high-high status epistemic community; (3) the rallying of ideologically diverse powerful actors external to the schools behind a commensurating logic that promised control over and improvement of an unwieldy school system; and (4) the inability of education to resist this technocratic logic (and often to be co-opted by it) due to teaching's historical institutionalization as a feminized, weak, bureau-cratically-administered field lacking its own set of widely respected countervailing professional standards. Conclusions/Implications This history suggests that unless teachers are able to develop and organize a stronger field, they will remain at the whim of external actors. It also suggests that top-down accountability-centered approaches are limited if the goal is to consistently produce teaching that can help students engage in higher level academic work. Rather than continuing to pursue these rationalizing strategies, this analysis and emerging international evidence suggest that a more promising approach would be to work towards professionalizing the educational field.
Article
The purpose of this study was to explore the impact of Digital storytelling (DST) on the academic achievement, critical thinking, and learning motivation of senior high school students learning English as a foreign language. The one-year study adopted a pretest and posttest quasi-experimental design involving 110 10th grade students in two English classes. The independent variable was information technology-integrated instruction (ITII) on two different levels – lecture-type ITII (comparison group) and DST (experimental group). Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected, including English achievement and critical thinking scores, questionnaire responses for learning motivation, as well as recordings of student and teacher interviews for evaluating the effectiveness of DST in learning. Descriptive analysis, analysis of covariance (ANCOVA), multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA), and qualitative content analysis was used for evaluating the obtained data. Our findings indicate that DST participants performed significantly better than lecture-type ITII participants in terms of English achievement, critical thinking, and learning motivation. Interview results highlight the important educational value of DST, as both the instructor and students reported that DST increased students' understanding of course content, willingness to explore, and ability to think critically, factors which are important in preparing students for an ever-changing 21st century.