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Report from the Last Day of the Colloque International at Laval

Posted by Kate Zankowicz
29 October 2012 - 9:33pm

Here's a run-down on what happened on the final day of the Colloque international des didactiques de l'histoire, de la geographie et de l'education a la citoyennete (The International Didactics of History, Geography and Citizenship Education Symposium).

 Cate Duquette’s talk at the round table underlined that there is a progression of historical consciousness, which makes assessment difficult. Stephane Levesque’s talk at the roundtable, on the use of the past for future teachers, found that at the University of Ottawa, teachers-in- training ranked historical thinking highly in their rationales of why they teach history. In contrast, students surveyed from Quebec universities saw identity formation as one of the most important rationales. Other interesting findings were the preference for lectures as delivery formats, the rank of textbooks and archives as reliable sources, while the internet was not considered reliable.

The panel on After the Textbook: New Challenges of Implementing Web 2.0 Learning Materials in History Classrooms took place in the afternoon.

Duquette’s talk on learning historical thinking studied 148 students, 15-17 years of age and their use of 50 websites from governmental and museum websites and the education material that they offered freely to teachers. Of the 42 museum websites 52% did not have educational activities online, and the activities that were online did not include ways to analyze historical sources.

Levesque presented on the use of cutting edge technology (eye scans) in order to better understand photograph interpretation and historical literacy.

Rose Fine-Meyer spoke about how the shift to e-textbooks and publisher-driven online supplementary materials may result in history curriculum on master narratives ("more of the same"), despite local historical communities finding space online as well. It may narrow teacher research and expose children to advertizing and marketing.

Marie-Claude Larouche presented about  the challenges of integrating technology into museum education (ways to avoid the ‘heads-down syndrome’ in museums) and talked about her work with the McCord Museum in Montreal to engage students in exhibits using Apps and Facebook.

Linda Levstik ended the evening with closing remarks about the Living Archaeology weekend, a program in Kentucky for students in grade 5 who work with archaeologists in the field. She found that students could change their minds about pre-conceived notions about people in the past, in particular the idea that people in the past were less intelligent. Through a hands-on program that focused on “Native American” tools and ways of life, students gained an appreciation of how people in the past lived. Levstik was able to see a shift in the way students could value, appreciate and better understand the lives of people in the past through hands-on activities. She found that the learning experience can change students' beliefs about history.

Bravo to the organizers, speakers, translators and everyone else involved in making the last three days so successful. Ideas were shared, future papers discussed and this was a extremely valuable way for grad students to meet important scholars in the history education field.


Kate Zankowicz

Rose Fine-Meyer