From the Picts to Parliament

30th October 2009 at 00:00
Find out who shaped Scotland with an online resource which will bring history lessons to life

A new online resource spanning 5,000 years of Scottish history will beam the nation's past into the classroom as never before.

Scotland's History Online is divided into 11 time periods ranging from early people to the 20th and 21st century.

It includes periods that schools have traditionally found difficult to tackle and have therefore neglected, such as the Scottish Enlightenment, Caledonians and Picts and the history of Gaeldom.

If the resource were a series of books, it would occupy a shelf three feet long, said Mark Oxbrow of Learning and Teaching Scotland, who produced all the resources.

As well as being less cumbersome than textbooks, the online resource is arguably also more successful at bringing Scottish history to life, with video-clips, photos, illustrations, interactive games, archive materials and virtual tours of places of interest, such as Skara Brae in Orkney.

"There is the opportunity to look at the Declaration of Arbroath in the kind of detail that would only otherwise be possible through a magnifying glass," said Mr Oxbrow. "As well as being able to zoom in and out, you can listen to someone reading it aloud."

Alison Sommerville, a history teacher at the Royal High in Edinburgh, who has just started a secondment with LTS to develop exemplars of how the resource is being used in the classroom, said: "The Picts was an area of history we had looked at developing, but resources were extremely difficult to find. Something like this would have been brilliant."

The history curriculum has been rewritten in a bid to give youngsters a clearer sense of their national identity.

Scotland's History Online will give teachers the support they need to deliver it, as well as being a useful tool for pupils and members of the public, says the Government.

Earlier this year, the Government was accused of attempting to indoctrinate pupils with a "narrow Nationalist" view of Scottish history when it introduced subsidised trips to Bannockburn and Culloden.

But at the launch of the resource at the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh, Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop insisted she was not dictating the content of the curriculum but giving teachers the tools to deliver "informed, exciting and varied Scottish history teaching".

Certainly the academics appeared to be on-side. Peter Hillis, professor of history education at Strathclyde University, said: "If you wanted to plan a history course from primary into secondary, you could do worse than look at the areas covered on this website. It is comprehensive in terms of the topics covered."


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