Information and communication technologies (ICTs) can be a greatly enriching resource in the teaching and learning of history. Among the ways in which it may be used are the following:
- data-handling programs can be used by children to record and analyse substantial records or bodies of information. For example, children might enter details of pupils whose names were entered in the school’s rolls over a period. They could then ask questions about the ages of pupils on enrolment, the occupations of their fathers and their ages on leaving the school. The answers to these questions might be presented in graphical format using the computer
- a number of simulation-style programs are available based on historical themes. Some, for example, allow the child to act as an archaeologist completing a ‘dig’ or as a Norman soldier attacking a castle. In each case the child has to use his/her knowledge of the period or situation to make judgements about his/her actions. These can be useful in encouraging the child to think about the constraints faced by people in these situations, but teachers should check the programs carefully for historical accuracy
- word-processing and drawing programs give the child another means of communicating his/her historical findings. By allowing redrafting, editing and correction to be completed so readily, computers can encourage the child who may not find conventional written work satisfactory. These programs also allow a document to be built up over a long period: for example, children might store timelines on computer disk and add to them as new units of work are completed
- information technology can greatly enrich the range of sources and information available to the child. Many CD-ROMs which include historical accounts, pictures, maps etc. are available
- using the internet can give children access to an even greater range of sources. Many galleries, museums and interpretative centres have web pages, and children can ‘visit’ their collections and sites via the computer
- the internet can also give children an added incentive for historical research. Some schools have established links with other schools and classes and have shared details of their projects and investigations via e-mail. For example, children engaged in a study of the Celts could share and compare evidence from a number of locations using this method.