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#16 John Simkin

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Posted 02 April 2003 - 06:21 AM

Ben Walsh is involved with HistoryOnline. I will email him about the History Forum. He might even write about the History Forum in one of his articles.

Edited by John Simkin, 02 April 2003 - 06:22 AM.


#17 Danno44

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Posted 08 April 2003 - 04:33 PM

I think Dave has hit on an interesting point re the HA. The website in question, i found to be as dull as a 1960s History textbook. I would also suggest any material I have rec' from the HA has been similaly boring. The 'why take History' leaflets that they make would put students off rather encourage them to take history. I sometimes feel that we get a rather poor deal from our friends at the HA, espepcially when you look at some of the stuff produced by the Geog Ass. I would like to look to the HA to be taking a lead in bringing school History into the 21st century.....

What do other poeple think? :ill:
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#18 Guest_andy_walker_*

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Posted 08 April 2003 - 09:06 PM

Odd that it should be so disappointing. I have to say that I usually find Ben Walsh's stuff really good, Historyonline however is pants :sad:

#19 John Simkin

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Posted 09 April 2003 - 10:27 AM

I am a great fan of Ben Walsh’s work and I am sure he is not to blame for the content of History Online. He works as an adviser to the website. I know from my experience as working as an adviser to Learn that you do not always have much of an impact on what appears on the website.

#20 Ben Walsh

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Posted 06 May 2003 - 07:06 PM

I was prompted to have a look at the discussion which has been going on about the HA and History Online. I can see that HOL has been getting some stick and there is no doubt that it deserves at least some of it. Perhaps you would allow me to set out my position. I know you are supposed to keep discussion entries short but I am pleading exceptional circumstances here!

Can I start by saying I am definitely not having a pop at anyone! I felt that the comments in the forum were pretty fair actually, but inevitably they lacked an insider's perspective.

Let's get straight to the point. Lesley Walker, Alf Wilkinson and I have been trying for about two years to get them to take our names off the site, but they have still not done so. Alf and I started with HOL when it was a little kitchen table set up back in about 1997.

The idea was to be a big jumble of odd activities which came in from teachers whenever they had the time to knock them up. The other big aim was to reduce wasted surf time by producing web links with guidance so teachers would know whether it was worth checking out a site.

For several years it stayed true to that aim, and was gloriously undisciplined! At the time, big companies were coming up with online courses, whereas I felt that the need was for one off, imaginative ideas which did not necessarily need to be electronic, but often were. Thus, we got Stuart Fewster's revision games, Lesley Walker's materials on 19th century health and emigration, and quite a few other good materials lurking in there.

From about 2000 my own connection with HOL virtually disappeared as they were taken over by a big company (part of the dot com phenomenon). Alf was busy running the NOF Training - the HA training being one of the few programmes to get any praise. The company immediately branched into Maths Online, English Online etc etc which, in my personal opinion, excessively dissipated the energies and resources available to keep turning out quality content. When materials finally made it, there were often several years old. Quality control and the commissioning process suffered. More recently, there have been redundancies and job losses and restructuring - not something designed to promote creative work.

All of this brings me back to the fundamental point that it is well over 3 years since I have done anything for HOL and I am certainly not involved in what it does now. This is not to say that it is rubbish, but I leave others to decide on the extent to which it offers value for money.

On a final, related note, let me say a word about the HA. The HA connection with HOL was pretty thin from the start. The original idea was to the take some of the back catalogue of HA materials and turn them into A Level activities, but this did not often work out, except in the case of some materials on Vietnam and Stalin. I must stress that no HA money went into History Online - the income was in the opposite direction as HOL payment for materials owned by the HA or for work (often done voluntarily on behalf of the HA). On the wider question of what the HA provides, all of the contributors make sound and sensible points. The HA desperately wants to do more. It would love to do more of the things the GA does, but it has one quarter of the membership - chicken and egg. Also, I don't want to get into subject rivalries but I think the HA does things like Teaching History better than the GA - there really is no rival to TH in terms of intellectual and professional rigour. Perhaps the biggest area is INSET. The HA is struggling to hold successful INSET events, because not enough people come. It needs (a) more members, (b) more attenders © ABOVE ALL feedback from history teachers on what INSET programmes and arrangements WOULD get them to come.


Sorry this has turned into an epistle! I hope some of the points are of interest.

#21 Andrew Field

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Posted 06 May 2003 - 07:18 PM

May I welcome you to the forum - thanks for joining and posting.

It was very interesting to read your comments. This really does make sense of a lot of the confusion. Your name is still very clearly connected with the site, and I suspect would account for nearly 100% of the people signing up for it. When I started the SchoolHistory.co.uk site in June 2000 my aim was clear - to create a collection of useful weblinks to help me with my teaching. If others found it useful, then so be it. I never knew about History Online until later. The problem with a commercial venture is that it has to make money. I guess HOL has to produce content to justify the subscription fee. I am an NGfL reviewer, and despite having some doubts about the HistoryOnline site I did approve it for NGfL badging as I felt it did have materials of use for teachers. Again though, I'm not sure I would have been as keen to do this if it didn't have the well known history names associated with it.

The comments about the Historical Assocation are equally thought provoking. If there is anything this forum can do to specifically help I'm sure many of those who frequent the site will be more than happy.

Finally, don't be afraid of the long postings - John Simkin's certainly got you beaten so far. :lol:


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#22 Carole Faithorn

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Posted 06 May 2003 - 07:21 PM

Welcome to the Forum Ben. Perhaps you will be prompted by the liveliness of the Forum to participate in other threads too?

It has been good to have the 'insider view' of History Online. I last viewed the materials quite sometime ago and was impressed by some of what I saw there - the materials on Stalin for example and also a task on Nazi Propaganda I think was yours?

As for the HA. ... My school has not renewed its membership for quite a few years now so I am somewhat 'out of the loop', but the sort of Conferences I attended about 6/7 years ago in York and M/cr were wonderfully stimulating.

I am now right at the end of my own teaching career so I'll leave it to others to suggest what sort of INSET they would like to see the HA providing.

#23 Dafydd Humphreys

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Posted 06 May 2003 - 07:31 PM

Welcome, Ben. Not much to add on what I've already said about HO. I've never joined the HA although I'd like to - but it's very expensive.

I did get a cd-rom set by a certain Ben Walsh 'History Live' sent by the council (bit of a surprise that) which looks good from what the box says.
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#24 Ben Walsh

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Posted 07 May 2003 - 06:56 AM

Thanks for the comments everyone - I don't know how you manage to take part in so many discussions without getting confused. Is that what they call bandwidth?! I have been interested to look at the discussions and will try and chip in, but I am not too sure about my bandwidth!

Speaking of which, I forgot to mention a couple of other things about HOL. When it started an annual sub to HOL was a feeble £25 for HA members, with various discounts for schools in LEAs which bought packages of subs. At that time, teacher produced sites like those many of you have created did not exist, or were very rare.

Dafydd mentioned History Live. I hope you have some fun with it, however you decide to use it. You have received it because you are in a Regional Broadband Consortium which has bought a mass sub to HL. This was always the plan with this resource. Because ITN are not shy about charging for their copyright there was no way this could ever be an affordable resource for individual schools. What has been an eye opener for me is to see the amount of money that is out there behind the scenes in RBCs, CLCs etc. All too often these are run by good IT people who struggle to spend their cash because the quality of electronic resources out there is not great OR these people understandably do not have a handle on certain areas of the curriculum. I think the people who contribute to this forum could do their less teccy history colleagues a favour by informing and educating their IT colleagues. If you are are already spreading the word, forgive me!

#25 John Simkin

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Posted 07 May 2003 - 07:17 AM

Ben, welcome to the History Forum. It is good to see so many important figures in history teaching joining the group. I am sure it will be beneficially to both the producers and consumers of educational materials. Maybe we might even get people from the Department of Education to join. They could test out their educational ideas here before it becomes official policy. Consultation with teachers was something they believed in stronly when they were in opposition.

Ben asks for “feedback from history teachers on what INSET programmes and arrangements” they would like to see from the Historical Association? I have created a discussion on this at:

Historical Association and INSET

Edited by John Simkin, 07 May 2003 - 08:54 AM.


#26 Andrew Field

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Posted 07 May 2003 - 05:44 PM

Thanks for the comments everyone - I don't know how you manage to take part in so many discussions without getting confused. Is that what they call bandwidth?! I have been interested to look at the discussions and will try and chip in, but I am not too sure about my bandwidth!

If you do get overwhelmed, the best link to use is the 'View New Posts' link at the top right of your page. Clicking on this will give you a list of the new posts so you can get involved where you would like to.

I think the people who contribute to this forum could do their less teccy history colleagues a favour by informing and educating their IT colleagues. If you are are already spreading the word, forgive me!


This is a good point because there is a great deal of good practice in ICT, but its essential that those with responsiblity for ICT in schools understand the history requirements first and the ICT requirements second. This is beginning to happen is some places and the difference is amazing. You get effective history teaching through the use of ICT rather than the other way round.


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