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4.

Survey on the use of ICT in History Education in Europe
By Herbert Crijns - EUROCLIO secretariat

Introduction

Prior to the EUROCLIO conference ‘History Teaching and Information Technology -
Will IT enhance History Teaching?’ held in Helsinki in March 1998, a questionnaire
was sent to all participants: representatives of European History Teachers
Associations and other Institutes and organisations connected with history education.
This questionnaire contained 13 questions about the use and potential use of
information technology in history education in every country. Questionnaires from 25
different countries were returned and the results provide an interesting overview of
the use of ICT in history education in Europe.

Many people found the questionnaire difficult to complete. In many countries
information was not available so the answers had to be estimated. Other questions
could only be answered from the (limited) experience of the person in question. This
analysis is, therefore, not a piece of scientific research on the state of ICT use in
history education in Europe. It is possible that some of the conclusions drawn in this
article are based on inadequate information. Notwithstanding these limitations, this
research provides us with very useful and interesting information about the use of
ICT in history education in Europe.

Hardware

In most European countries all schools are equipped with computers. Central and
eastern European countries the figures have less equipment. In Romania, only 10% of
the schools are equipped with computers. In Belarus and Croatia between 50 and 60%
of schools have computers. But these figures do not provide any information about
the classroom use of computers.

The provision of computers in History Departments varies widely. In countries like
Iceland, Estonia and England almost every history department has its own computers.
But in many European countries, for example, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland,
Malta and Russia this is not the case. And of course there are computers and
computers.

There are significant differences in the number of computers which have CD-ROM.
In countries like Slovenia, Belgium and Portugal all school computers have CD-
ROM. In countries like Poland, Belarus and England only a few (5-10%). Similar
differences occur with Internet connections. In some countries all schools are
connected to the Internet (Finland, Switzerland, Portugal, Iceland), in some countries
almost no school has (Croatia, Malta, Belarus, Latvia). Only in a few countries do
history teachers have computers in their history classrooms. More commonly, history
teachers can use special computer classrooms for separate lessons.

Access to computer hardware is the first requirement for the use of ICT in history
education. If there are no computers available for classroom use, nothing is possible.
In almost every country insufficient hardware is available. Only Norway, Iceland and
Switzerland say their hardware equipment is sufficient. For several other countries
hardware not the first priority. Their first need is often appropriate software.

In various countries special courses for initial and in-service teacher training are being developed. In many countries. There is no country in Europe where the majority of history teachers are able to use ICT in their lessons. in none of them it is generally and very frequently used. Malta. In those countries where schools are well provided with hardware and software. In Portugal there are plans. And there are other problems. Portugal. In Poland. Belgium and Portugal. In most countries developing ICT capability still depends on the individual initiative of teachers. Norway and Latvia. History-specific software is still being developed. there is no consistent long-term policy about this issue. or communicate with other people via the Internet. The range of titles is growing. the lack of skilled teachers is the bottle-neck. but its use is almost limited to western European countries. Latvia and Romania. such as Switzerland. Next to CD-ROM computers are used to gather information from. But in general history education is not a priority area for this. Most European governments consider computer education more and more important. Next to hardware and software. CD-ROM is the most widely used form of ICT in history education. but it will take time. production is often too expensive. have special websites for educational purposes. As a result in most European countries there are plans to train teachers. Teacher skills The use of ICT in education demands specialised skills from the teachers using it. But the costs of development are high and for small countries or countries with minority languages with small numbers of speakers. Examples of these countries are Switzerland. Even in what we could call ‘leading countries’. Teachers’ attitudes towards ICT In many countries teachers are on average a relatively old group. Although we can see that ICT is used in history education in several countries. Often it is the computer enthusiasts who do the pioneering work. Malta. Some countries. Denmark and Finland. like the United Kingdom. but they have not had any impact on the classroom as yet. There is widespread prejudice that young people are able to computers while some older people have . But this approach is only used in a few countries like Finland. the government is mainly focusing on providing the schools with hardware and little attention is being paid to training teachers to work with this hardware. Only recently has ICT capability been introduced into the compulsory curriculum for initial history teacher training in countries like Slovenia. skilled teachers are a major precondition for the use of ICT in history education.Software Effective use of computers in history education depends on appropriate software. Most available software is in English. such as the United Kingdom and Denmark. equip schools and produce teaching materials for ICT. ICT use is still in development and restricted to certain schools and certain teachers. Norway and Finland. History teachers who make use of computers during their lessons complain about the shortage and the high price of software. Belgium. mostly on CD-ROM. This will change. In Scotland it will be compulsory from next year.

Belgium. It is important that governments and educational authorities develop a stable and balanced policy in which hardware and software. Countries belonging to this group are. Here ICT is regularly used by a limited group of history teachers. the United Kingdom. In Malta the general attitude to using ICT in history education is negative. (Which can also be because it is a general prejudice!) Younger teachers were believed to be more interested and better skilled at using computers. for example. In many answers this prejudice was confirmed. like Belarus. They are all interested. However. followed by a lack of software. These are all central and eastern European countries.EUROCLIO secretariat . Conclusions The differences between the European countries are significant. the bottle-neck is good teacher-training in the use of ICT. They are more enthusiastic about using them in their lessons. even in countries which are more advanced. The main problem in Europe is still the lack of good hardware. Herbert Crijns . the Netherlands. France. But even these countries are still in a development phase. Romania. For the bulk of Europe this is still somewhat further away.strong resistance to them. Norway. Portugal. for example. In a few countries. as well as teacher training receive sufficient attention. Switzerland. There is a rather big middle group of countries which are in an initial phase of ICT of using in history education. A question on this issue was included in the questionnaire. Slovenia. Lithuania and Poland. some good software is available already and schools provide proper hardware. that are better equipped in this field. Estonia and Russia (Moscow region). As a final conclusion we can say that the use of ICT in history education is still in its earliest childhood and. A third group of countries has still a significant shortage of elementary hardware and as a result a complete lack of everything else in the field of ICT. in the case of both older and younger teachers. A few countries are clearly more advanced in the use of ICT in history education. Denmark and Finland. in Russia there is no difference in attitude observed between younger and older teachers. it will take several years before using ICT will be everyday classroom practice.