16th April 1999 at 01:00
Castles and computers may seem unlikely bedfellows, but information and communications technology (ICT) has much to offer. "History is about enquiring, evaluating and validating information, and ICT can help in this process," says Ben Walsh, a history teacher and consultant, adding that schools do not need the latest and fastest computers when using ICT.

Walsh says that any teacher planning to use ICT needs to define what you want to achieve in terms of teaching and learning and then see how ICT can contribute to this. "You don't necessarily need to use specialist geography ICT resources. For example a word processor is a useful writing tool and it often includes features that can be used for handling information. You can scan and filter large documents using a word search, and you can create sorting activities which ask pupils to re-arrange a set of jumbled-up sentences." Isobel Jenkins, IT lecturer at Leeds University, adds that programs such as databases and spreadsheets are also good for handling historical data. The Internet has many useful sites, such as the public record office (www.pro.gov.uk), which offer many resources for the historian.

ICT also gives students a chance to publish their findings to an international audience. "They can use a digital camera as part of a local history study to collect images. History is about gathering information, and having the opportunity to publish it on a public medium is more motivating than simply asking students to write an essay," says Jenkins.


1 The Virtual Teachers Centre www.vtc.ngfl.gov.ukresourcecitshistory 2 History Online - www.historyonline.co.uk 3 The Teem (Teachers Evaluating Educational Multimedia) www.teem.org.uk 4 Sources in History CD-Rom series (pound;49-pound;99 from the British Library, tel: 01462 672555) 5 The Troubled Century Case Studies CD-Rom (pound;34 from Granada Learning, tel: 01264 342992) 6 History using IT, a pupil's entitlement - send SAE to Becta, Milburn Hill Road, Science Park, Coventry CV4 7JJ 7 November 1998's Teaching History covers history and ICT. Call the Historical Association: 0171 735 3901 8 This Week in History CD-Rom (pound;40 from Sherston Software, tel: 01666 843 200) www.sherston.com 9 Encarta CD-Rom encyclopedia (pound;42.50 from Microsoft tel: 0345 002 000) www.microsoft.comuk 10 Useful material is available on the Spartacus Educational website www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk

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