History Virtual Academies (TLC 2010)
Author: arthur chapman
Type: conference presentation
The History Virtual Academies (HVA) project was supported by the Subject Centre for History, Classics and Archaeology through a Teaching Development Grant in 2007/2009. The project aimed to do a number of things simultaneously – to forge links between academic historians in universities and students in sixth forms, to provide an engaging and challenging historical learning experience for sixth formers that would give them insights into history in higher education and also to explore a key issue raised in literature on school to university transition, namely differences between school and college pupils’ and university teachers’ understandings of historical interpretation. The HVA was an online discussion forum that involved sixth form students and academic historians and that focused on problems of historical interpretation. To date, there have been two iterations of the HVA, both small scale, lasting for 4-5 weeks and involving two academic historians and one history education academic: the 2007/8 HVA involved 15 students in two institutions and the 2008/9 HVA involved 73 students in three institutions.
This presentation will outline the thinking behind the design of the two iterations of the HVA and assess the effectiveness of the HVA in achieving its aims. The presentation will reflect on task and discussion board design issues in the light of the two HVA iterations and will explore a number of other features of the discussions, including the broader insights that the two HVA discussion board data sets can give us into the nature and complexity of student thinking about questions of historical interpretation and also about the impact of discussion board teaching interventions in moving students’ thinking on. The presentation will also outline the planned future development of the HVA project and ways in which work of this nature could be expanded and developed more generally.