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Promoting the Digital Literacy of Historians at the University of Wolverhampton (TLC 2010)

Author: Richard Hawkins

Type: Conference Presentation


This paper reports the results of a History Subject Centre funded project on the integration of Nineteenth Century British Library Newspapers Online into our Level 2 history module, Victorian Britain, using the ‘Bloody Sunday’ Trafalgar Square Riot of 1887 as a case study. As a 2004 EU report by Jose Manuel Pérez Tornero on Understanding Digital Literacy observed, digital literacy requires both the traditional skills required for reading and writing as well as new technological literacy skills. Furthermore as a research note written by a 15 year old intern for Morgan Stanley’s European Media Analysts in July 2009 suggested, teenagers today do not regularly read newspapers because most “cannot be bothered to read pages and pages of text.” So in this project we do not assume that our students will be familiar with using newspapers to gather information. Hence for this project we provided a lecture and workshop on using newspapers as a primary source.

Although most of our students have been using ICT for many years we also did not assume that they are able to make effective use of a search engine to collect material to prepare an essay. So as part of this project, using our Bloody Sunday case study, we showed our students how to make the most effective use of this digital resource. In addition to covering the generic issues involving the use of search engines we also showed how it was necessary to take into account that Victorians sometimes used different terminology compared to modern-day English, for example ‘reformatories’ as opposed to ‘youth detention centres’. One of the two essays for the module was partly based on the use of this digital resource and the paper will reflect on the relative success or failure of the students in their use of this resource.

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(Powerpoint Presentation) Presentation