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Author: Jos Igartua
Title: Integrating Multimedia Technology Into an Undergraduate History Curriculum: Pedagogical Considerations and Practical Examples
Publication info: Ann Arbor, MI: MPublishing, University of Michigan Library
November 1998

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Source: Integrating Multimedia Technology Into an Undergraduate History Curriculum: Pedagogical Considerations and Practical Examples
Jos Igartua

vol. 1, no. 2, November 1998
Article Type: Article
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Integrating Multimedia Technology Into an Undergraduate History Curriculum: Pedagogical Considerations and Practical Examples

José E. Igartua

Département d'histoire
Université du Québec à Montréal
C.P. 8888, succ. Centre-ville
Montréal (Québec) H3C 3P8

This article describes three pedagogical experiments with multimedia technology conducted in the History department at Université du Québec à Montréal in 1997-1998. It begins with a description of the institutional and departmental context of the experiments. Each experiment is then described in terms of its origins, its pedagogical objectives, its features, and its outcomes. The experiments include a self-learning tool for bibliographical work, Web site creation as an alternative to a term paper, and a course conducted wholly on the Internet. The paper concludes with a general assessment of the experiments and some recommendations for the successful implementation of multimedia technology into the History curriculum.

.01. Introduction

Universities everywhere in North America are being confronted with the explosive impact of multimedia technology upon the way teachers teach and students learn. The combination of multimedia (non-linear navigation among images, sound, and text) and networks embodied in the virtualities of the World Wide Web has stimulated the imaginations of teachers and university administrators. Access to richer pedagogical material and remote access by students are the two principal virtues ascribed to the Web. Some university administrators have waxed enthusiastic about the new technology, in the belief that it will radically transform the learning process, while other commentators have feared the commodification of university instruction and already speak of 'digital diploma mills.' [1]

History departments have to respond to the multimedia challenge. The Association for History and Computing has made it its task, over the last decade, to stimulate the development and the implementation of computer-based teaching tools for History. Well-designed multimedia packages, such as those developed by the Computers in Teaching Initiative Centre for History, Archaeology & Art History in the United Kingdom, the award-winning Valley of the Shadow Web site, or the promising Canada: Confederation to Present CD-ROM being developed at the University of Alberta, offer exciting pedagogical opportunities. The question of the integration of these new pedagogical tools into a general undergraduate History teaching, however, has received less attention than the new multimedia learning products themselves.

The aim of the present paper is to examine this question from the viewpoint of experience gained in the History department at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) and to offer some recommendations on the process of integration of multimedia technology into an undergraduate History curriculum. I first present the pedagogical context in which multimedia technology was introduced in our courses. I then outline three multimedia experiments in the teaching of history which we have conducted over the last year. In each case, the use of multimedia technology had specific pedagogical objectives geared to the nature of the course in which it was introduced. While we found clear pedagogical advantages to the use of multimedia technology in history teaching, we suggest that the introduction of the technology must be managed with prudence as well as enthusiasm. Pedagogy, rather than technology, must be the driving force.

.02. The pedagogical context

.03. Characteristics of the student clientele

Any pedagogical endeavor has to take into account the characteristics of the student clientele at which it is aimed. These determine what can be attempted and what is beyond reach. For instance, students living on campus are in a different situation from students who commute and who work for a good part of the week. UQAM has an urban campus located in downtown Montreal, with next to no student housing. Its clientele is composed for the most part of students from modest socioeconomic backgrounds. Most students work part-time to supplement their student loans. Thus time as well as financial resources are limited.

Scheduling learning activities is thus more difficult than on a live-in campus. In order to keep travel between home and campus to a minimum, lectures at UQAM are done in three-hour blocks once a week. Some students hardly have time outside of classes to do course work on campus. Contact with instructors usually takes place once a week, around lecture time; problems that arise during the week can only be addressed the following week.

Given these constraints, access to computers for class work becomes a paramount issue. One way to solve the issue would be to require that students purchase a specific computer platform as part of the admission requirements. A few institutions in Canada (Acadia University in Nova Scotia, the École des Hautes Études commerciales in Montreal) have taken this route. Portable computers are brought to class and plugged into the school network as part of classroom activity. While this solves access problems and ensures that students all have the same computing platform, it does not automatically provide for improved pedagogy. There are indications (from colleagues in these institutions) that faculty are sometimes insufficiently prepared for a sudden, wholesale introduction of computers as a regular part of classroom activity. As a result, students are left wondering whether the mandatory expense has sufficient pedagogical justification.

At UQAM, requiring students to purchase computers (equipment that will be obsolete within two years) is not an option, given the socioeconomic characteristics of our students. This is one reason why UQAM has numerous computer labs. The Social Science faculty, where the History department is located, has four computer rooms (2 equipped with PCs, 1 with Macintoshes, and one mixed room) used for teaching and for student work. Yet using the labs to complete assignments and practice computer skills is inconvenient for many students for the logistical reasons outlined above.

Nevertheless, ownership of computers among UQAM students is becoming more widespread. There are two reasons for this. The first is that more and more students realize that computers are an essential tool for school work and for any future white-collar work. The second is financial assistance. The Québec provincial government offers a loan guarantee program for students who have successfully completed a semester of university study; loans can be repaid after graduation. Thus, while students would balk at being required to purchase computers, more and more see the benefit of owning a computer. In the future, students will own multimedia machines, since almost all new machines now come with a CD-ROM, a sound card, speakers, and a modem.

For the moment, however, we must deal with the fact that students have limited access to computing resources, whether at home or at school. This restricts the range of computer-based instructional activities that can be implemented in a mandatory manner or that can rely upon an up-to-date, standardized computing platform.

.04. Place of multimedia experiments within department

.05. Faculty resources

The introduction of multimedia teaching tools also depends upon faculty members familiar with the use of computer applications for teaching and willing to include these tools as a regular part of their pedagogical practice. At present, this is the case for a minority of staff in our department, as I suspect is the case in most History departments in North America. This minority provides example and advice to colleagues intrigued by the pedagogical potential of multimedia tools.

Our institution encourages staff to develop its skills in this area by providing training workshops and modest financial help to integrate multimedia tools into teaching. Symbolic of the importance the administration attaches to this is its commitment to keep funding these activities in the face of substantial budget cutbacks which have led to larger class sizes, reduced library acquisition budgets, and a reduction of personnel among support staff.

The administration's enthusiasm for 'innovative' teaching practices which make use of multimedia technology is not universally shared among faculty. One reason is that we do not yet have any conclusive assessment of the pedagogical effectiveness of multimedia technology within our institution, nor any measure of its cost-effectiveness in terms of equipment and time invested. Nevertheless, there is willingness among some faculty to experiment with multimedia teaching tools in order to arrive at a more informed judgement of its pedagogical usefulness.

.06. Program objectives

.07. Place of these innovations within departmental priorities

The experiments described below have taken place while our undergraduate History program was being revised and restructured. In the course of this program revision, the systematic integration of multimedia technology into all undergraduate history courses was not envisioned. The department opted rather to mandate a committee to assess, in the light of the ongoing experiments, the place of the new technology within the range of departmental teaching practices, and to make recommendations for the integration of multimedia technology in our teaching according to suitable pedagogical objectives. This prudence was based on the recognition of the importance of the experiments we were conducting, but also on the knowledge that substantial resources would be required for a sustained introduction of computer-assisted teaching in our undergraduate program.

.08. Course objectives

Our multimedia experiments were designed to attain three different sets of pedagogical objectives. In the first instance, the objective was to make learning how to use bibliographical tools for historical research at once more systematic and less burdensome. To that end we created an online resource for a first-year course on historical method. It seeks to offer more information than would be useful in a paper format, while at the same time making it easier for students to access information is directly relevant to their pursuits.

The second experiment in multimedia technology was included in a course designed to train students to communicate history to a general public. The creation of Web sites by students has replaced the traditional term paper as the course's major assignment. It was intended to develop research skills, but also the analytical skills required to structure information and convey it clearly within the "space" of a Web site.

The third experiment was a History course delivered exclusively through multimedia channels. This was designed for students who, for various reasons, both personal and pedagogical, preferred this form of distance learning to the usual classroom-based course.

.09. An online teaching resource: The Histoire-Hypermédia project

The Histoire-Hypermédia project was set up in 1996 to produce online pedagogical resources to train History undergraduates in historical methods. The project team is made up of staff and research assistants from the History departments of Université Laval, Université de Montréal, and Université du Québec à Montréal, under my direction. During the first phase of the project, from 1996 to 1998, the team created a Web site that allows History students to learn how to conduct a bibliographical search in a systematic manner, using both traditional paper-based tools and electronic resources (online catalogues, CD-ROM bibliographies, Internet-based bibliographical databases). The Web site contains detailed analytical descriptions of 84 bibliographical tools (bibliographical guides, retrospective bibliographies, current bibliographies); access to these descriptions is provided by an alphabetical listing or by a 'compass' which directs students to relevant bibliographical tools for each broad historical period.

.10. Reasons for the project

The project arose from common concerns in the three participating History departments. The departments all require first-year students to take introductory courses in historical methods. These courses are designed to provide students with the methodological and technical skills they need in our undergraduate History programs. One of the essential methodological skills is the ability to carry out thorough bibliographical searches on a given topic and to find the relevant literature. While these skills have been taught for some time, the examples and the assignments used in teaching them depend upon the instructor's specific area of expertise. While we assumed that the skills developed in one area of history would be transferred to other areas, we offered little guidance on how to achieve this transfer of skills. The need for a more systematic approach was obvious.

Collaboration among the three History departments offered a way to achieve this more systematic approach. Pooling the collective knowledge and resources of three History departments provides significant advantages. We benefit from the pedagogical experience of colleagues in the three departments in teaching historical methods. The project has also drawn on the collective wisdom of the faculty in the three departments in selecting bibliographical tools to be included in the project. Financially, project costs are shared by the three institutions: for a minimal investment of $5,000 a year over two years, each department has access to a teaching tool which cost $30,000 to develop. The advantages of co-operation, from all standpoints, are clear.

Another major reason for the project was the lack of class time in introductory historical methods courses to offer adequate training in the use of the various bibliographical tools available in the major areas of History. By offering an online multimedia self-teaching tool for this purpose, we wanted to give students a permanent resource to which they could come back as often as they liked for bibliographical guidance.

Finally, the Histoire-Hypermédia tool has practical benefits for our libraries. It will help in reducing wear and tear on bibliographical works. Each year, hundreds of students ransack the reference section of our libraries in order to complete the bibliographical research assignments required in our methods and survey courses. Because of manpower shortages, reference works used by students often end in library sorting areas for days, sometimes weeks, before being put back on the shelves, thus being unavailable to other students. The physical handling of reference works will be reduced if students become familiar with the contents of bibliographical works and select those appropriate for a given research project before visiting the library.

.11. Pedagogical objectives for the project

From the outset, the project viewed technology as a means to attain clearly defined pedagogical objectives. The foremost objective was to develop in our students the ability to carry out systematic bibliographical searches. We spent a considerable amount of time working on an introductory text which explains the whys and wherefores of a systematic bibliographical search. The text includes examples from the major areas of history being taught in our institutions, definitions of bibliographical terms, and numerous research tips and warnings. A second introductory text explains the similarities and differences between bibliographical searches in paper-based reference works and searches of electronic materials.

We paid particular attention to the examples used to illustrate the process of systematic bibliographical searching. At each step of the search - from the choice of a general area to the framing of questions and the definition of special terms - specific topics in classical history, in medieval history, in modern (European) history and in contemporary history, as well as in Canadian history, are pursued systematically. [2]

The second major pedagogical objective of Histoire-Hypermédia was to provide guidance in selecting the appropriate bibliographical tools from the long list of available instruments. To that end, the description of each bibliographical tool begins with a summary which allows students to decide quickly whether a bibliography or bibliographical guide is relevant to the topic they are researching. This summary leads to a thorough description of the contents and structure of the bibliographical tool as well as to further remarks on use (See Appendix A)

The choice of multimedia environment followed from these objectives. The hierarchical, as opposed to linear, structure of a multimedia environment makes it possible to offer richer bibliographical information than a paper-based resource while avoiding information overload. Providing the same information in a print document would be cumbersome and the bulk of the document would discourage its use. In past years, students at Université Laval, for example, received an extensive printed list of bibliographical tools as part of their course material. Yet little formal guidance was provided on how to select the appropriate tools for a given research task. So students usually ignored the list of bibliographies and proceeded more or less haphazardly in their search for bibliographical references.

We chose a Web site as the cheapest, most standardized multimedia environment format available. No software licensing is required; information can be accessed from a variety of computing platforms, both on campus and off campus; and there are no distribution costs, as UQAM provides a server for the Web site free of charge.

The Histoire-Hypermédia environment stresses the need for a systematic approach to bibliographical searching. Bibliographical tools can be selected using a 'compass' which takes them directly to the instruments appropriate to a given historical period; bibliographies are further classified by type: guides, retrospective bibliographies, and current bibliographies. A click on the title of their choice brings up the summary description; scrolling down the page provides more detailed information, including links to scans of "front matter" and examples.

The Web site provides graphic materials which help make information about each bibliographical tool more visual: for instance, each description of a bibliographical tool opens with a color reproduction of its cover. Appropriate sections of the front matter of each bibliographical tool and some examples of contents are reproduced; students can thus become familiar with the appearance, contents, and structure of a bibliographical instrument without physically handling it.

This online resource might be of little interest to students if they were not required to use it for assignments in historical methods courses. We have designed exercises to test students' understanding of the different types of bibliographical tools and to gauge their ability to select bibliographies relevant to a given research topic. However, we have not yet included these exercises on the Web site because assignments in the historical methods courses vary in format from department to department and from instructor to instructor.

.12. Assessment

Because Histoire-Hypermédia only became operational in February 1998, in the middle of the Winter term, we were not able to integrate it systematically in the historical methods courses offered during that term. We obtained feedback from about a third of the 60 or so students registered in the UQAM courses, by means of a questionnaire form included in the site. With few exceptions, respondents were excited with this online learning resource. Some suggested enhancements to the graphical presentation of the site, which we had deliberately kept very plain. Students would also like to access bibliographical tools directly through the site, but of course this is only possible with online resources. Moreover, this is difficult to implement, since online resources have different interfaces (CD-ROMs on single machines or on networks, WWW access) in different libraries. Each interface requires its own description, and access mechanisms vary, and are likely to change over time.

The one complaint most often voiced by respondents to the questionnaire had to do with the fact that access to the site is restricted to users from the three universities. Copyright reasons have forced us to impose this restriction. Publishers have granted permission to reproduce material from their works without fees, under the condition that the material be only used for teaching purposes and only for our students. [3] At present, the only technical means available to meet this obligation is to control access to the site by IP address. Only addresses from the domains of the three participating universities are allowed to connect to the site.

This is not a very satisfactory solution, especially since one of the participating universities is phasing out its ISP function in favor of a commercial ISP. We are waiting for the implementation of a better technical solution. Access will be controlled by user ids and passwords issued to students, regardless of the origin of their Internet connection. Given the size of the combined student population in the three universities - over 100,000 -, implementing this technical solution is a substantial task, undertaken by the University's computing services.

Overall, we are very pleased with the Histoire-Hypermédia site. Colleagues who have looked at it are also enthusiastic. Phase II of the project, for which modest funding has been obtained, will add descriptions and assessments of historical dictionaries and encyclopædias. An extension of Phase I to bibliographies in Art History will also be undertaken in the coming year.

.13. Putting history on the Web as a term paper

Another opportunity to use multimedia technology in teaching presented itself in the Fall of 1997, within a semester course entitled The Historian and Documentary Resources in Archives and Museums which I was asked to teach. This was a new course in our undergraduate curriculum. It is part of a set of advanced, optional historical methods courses, usually taken in the students' final year. The aim of the course is to make students familiar with the variety and richness of sources available in archives and in museum holdings. [4]

The Montreal area is particularly well endowed with archives and museums suitable for this purpose. The colleague with whom I team-taught the course, Marcel Caya, is a former archivist and museum director with excellent connections to local institutions. He and I decided that one of the major objectives for this course would be to train students in the art of vulgarisation, the popularization of historical knowledge, as we believed this would become an important component of any job requiring an undergraduate History degree.

.14. Reasons for the project

The opening of a multimedia computer room within our Social Science Computing Laboratory, in September 1997, offered the opportunity to experiment with multimedia technology as a vehicle for vulgarisation. The room was equipped with Pentium II multimedia machines running Windows NT, scanners, a screen projector, Internet connections, color printers, and software to create multimedia and cartography applications. Thus, equipment was available to experiment with multimedia applications. We believed the acquisition of a basic competency in the creation of Web sites would give our students valuable experience with multimedia technology besides the intellectual skills they were to develop in the course. Students were enthusiastic when we presented them with the idea.

.15. Pedagogical objectives for the project

We decided from the outset that the best way to attain the general aims of enabling students to work with primary sources and artifacts was to make them actually use archival and museum materials in their course assignments. They needed to become acquainted with the workings of archival institutions, with the way in which archival material is organized and catalogued, with the principle of provenance, and with legislation governing copyright, privacy, and access to information. They would also learn how museum collections are constituted, how they are catalogued, and how museum curators use their collections to mount exhibitions and present artifacts to the public.

.16. Course organization

For the instructors, the course was an experiment in a non-traditional pedagogical approach. Lectures were conducted in the multimedia lab and lecture material as well as assignment specifications were placed on the course Web site. Students could access lecture outlines while we were lecturing, thus facilitating note-taking. Lecturing generally took place for about half the available class time. The other half was given over to hands-on experimentation. Students helped each other with design and technical problems, under the supervision and assistance of the instructors. Outside of class, a listserver and e-mail were used to answer specific queries and to draw students' attention to material posted on the course Web site. Besides class time, the multimedia lab was reserved for our students' use for two hours a week, during which I served as lab monitor.

The major assignment in the course was the production of Web sites on historical topics we suggested. The sites would showcase documents and artifacts and explain how these documents and artifacts help in understanding the chosen historical topic. Students had, as far as possible, to make use both of archival and of museum materials.

We wanted to equip students with two different sets of skills. The first set of skills was the ability to use the historical resources found in archives and museums. To acquire these skills, students were first given lectures and readings, and then taken on group visits to archives and museums, during which archivists and museum curators explained the nature of their work, described their major collections, and sketched the ways in which research was conducted within their institution.

After this exposure to the 'behind the scenes' workings of archives and museums, students had to identify the institutions likely to hold materials related to their topic, become familiar with the various research tools available (catalogues, finding aids, etc.), and choose institutions and collections relevant to their topic. Students then had to select documents and artifacts to include in their Web site and to outline the 'thesis' which their site was to convey through these artifacts. Arriving at a statement of purpose for the Web sites was sometimes difficult for students more used to summarizing other people's viewpoints in essays than coming up with viewpoints of their own, but most students were excited - if a little apprehensive - at the prospect of putting their creation on the Internet for all the world to see.

Students discovered that their selection of material was often contingent upon obtaining reproduction rights. While this was relatively straightforward in the case of archival material, it was much more difficult with museums, which were understandably reluctant to see some of their assets disseminated on the Web outside of their institutional control. Students were already aware of copyright issues from course lectures on Canadian copyright, privacy, and access to information laws, and on Quebec legislation governing archives. In negotiating reproduction rights from museums and other institutions, students learned that determination, resourcefulness, and persuasion are necessary components of the historian's toolbox!

The second set of skills involved training in the art of Web site design. This was conducted in parallel with the methodological research training. The first step was to make students aware of the qualities a good Web site should have, as well as to expose them to a variety of Web styles. For their first assignment, students had to find interesting museum and archives sites on the Web and assess them for form as well as for content. For this assignment we provided a questionnaire (See Appendix B) .

We kept instruction on how to design Web sites very basic. A simple, common template was proposed, to insure that all sites would contain essential information: statement of purpose, menu, e-mail address of creator, date of last update, annotated bibliography, and links back to the site's home page on each page. We also wanted to keep site structures as simple as possible in order to reduce the need for elaborate navigation aids.

We stressed the importance of planning a site structure according to the message one wanted the site to convey. Like any work of historical popularization, a Web site had to grab the attention of its visitors, tell them what the site was about, and provide a quick indication of its structure. Materials from archives or museums had to support the site's principal argument without overshadowing it. The rhetoric of Web site design was compared to that of traditional essay writing.

Students were then taught how to produce simple HTML pages. We countered their fear of technical hurdles by showing them that they could create Web pages with a word processor. (We used Word for Office 97). We showed them how to insert visual material such as photographs or reproductions from newspapers on microfilm. Photographs were taken from the archives and museums collections or shot with a digital camera. Some students, already familiar with Web creation, included QuickTime VR panoramic shots, film, or audio clips.

Students quickly learned how to use Photoshop 4.0 to scan images and edit them. Surprisingly little formal instruction was necessary, though a fair amount of hands-on demonstration and assistance had to be provided. During the lab periods when I assisted students with the technical aspects of their assignments, I could observe that they enjoyed exploring the features of Photoshop. They discovered that cropping and digital manipulating of images has a lot in common with selecting written documents and extracting citations from them: it is a form of argument in support of a thesis.

The greatest technical hurdle students faced was uploading HTML pages and image and sound files to Web servers. Creating the appropriate directories on the university Unix server and using FTP to upload files to it required understanding the workings of Unix directory and file systems, something not immediately obvious to most students. (New FTP software now makes this a lot easier.)

Students produced sites on a wide variety of topics. [5] These ranged from the symbolic meaning of military uniforms, the evolution of beer advertising, and wartime propaganda films, to the vie mondaine of Montreal's bourgeois women. Each site had its own flavor. Students put a lot of effort into having presentable sites; some even asked their parents to proof-read their work! As a keepsake from the course, a CD-ROM containing the students' Web sites was produced by the instructor and a student with strong technical expertise.

The final assignment was an oral presentation by each student of his or her Web site. The oral presentation had to include a self-assessment of the student's learning experience. Most were very excited by what they had learned about archives and museums and about their own creative abilities but found the course demanding of their time. At the end of the course, a final exam required students to reflect critically on the role of archives and museums in the historian's work.

.17. Assessment

The formal student assessment of the course confirmed the students' interest in the course matter and in the pedagogical formula used, but pointed to the need to improve instruction in the technical aspects of Web design. This was not unexpected, since lab equipment, the design of Web sites, and the requisite software were all new to the instructors as well as the students when the course began! Another measure of the course's success was that interest in museums and archives was sustained into the next semester for about half the students, [6] who enrolled in a practical course on exhibition design.

.18. Teaching entirely by electronic means

Our department's most ambitious experiment was a course taught entirely on the Web. Over the last ten years, my colleague Michel Guay had developed considerable technical skills in producing multimedia material for his survey courses on ancient Egypt. He was approached by our administration to design a History course to be given entirely through multimedia channels. After nearly a year's preparatory work, a course on Pharaonic Egypt was offered in the Fall of 1997 (it is being offered a second time in the Fall 1998 term). [7]

.19. Reasons for the project

The goal of the project was to gain experience in the design and teaching of courses exclusively through multimedia channels and in testing students' reaction to this mode of instructional delivery. The multimedia channels consisted of a Web site containing various documentary resources, live broadcast radio lectures (made available on the Web site afterwards), a discussion list, e-mail, and reading materials.

.20. Pedagogical objectives for the project

The course aimed at creating a highly structured, resource-rich learning environment for students who could not attend regular university courses or preferred not to do so. It sought to make full use of the time students are expected to spend on a three-credit semester course. [8] Students would determine their own pace within the fifteen weeks of the regular semester. They would be responsible for their own learning; the course materials provided all the required resources. The course can be considered a variant of the distance learning approach. The major innovation was the provision of on-demand audio and visual materials through the Web, as well as asynchronous access to the instructor via e-mail and a discussion list.

.21. Structure of the course

The course was divided into 9 general modules or segments. Each segment included 5 themes, and each theme was comprised of 4 sections. Each of the 180 sections was meant to represent 30 minutes' work on the students' part. Included in this was lecture material provided in the form of 45 hours of audio recordings of interviews between a radio host and the course lecturer. The remaining 45 hours were allotted for offline student work. Two textbooks were required reading. Students had to write 9 short papers (3-4 pages), one for each segment of the course. Papers had to be submitted electronically, and grades were sent back the same way. A discussion list gave students the opportunity to put general questions, whether of a technical or of a substantive nature, to the whole group.

The site also provided a wide variety of documentary resources. These included a glossary, chronologies, bibliographies, and excerpts from written documents. But the Web format also made it possible to offer pictures, computer-generated images and maps, 3-D animations, and links to other Web sites of interest. Within each section, course material offered appropriate hyperlinks to these resources. Online quizzes allowed students to check on their mastery of the factual knowledge required in the course.

.22. First uses

Enrolment in the course (around 50 students at the beginning of the Fall 1997 term, 31 who completed the course) was roughly the same as the regular version of the course offered during the same term. Thus the course did not attract the masses that the administration had hoped for, in spite of the fact that the course gained exposure on Canada's national French-language radio network, which broadcast the 'lecture' part of the course. For the instructor, course preparation required systematic, elaborate planning, with precise pedagogical objectives for each segment of the course. Interaction with students through e-mail also demanded much time.

For the Fall 1998 term, the course is offered on a CD-ROM. This medium makes it possible to provide a greater range of documentary resources without the technical impediments of Web delivery (long download times for audio or graphic files). The CD-ROM links to the course Web site for freshly updated material.

.23. Assessment

This course has provided the university with some favorable media attention and given it some valuable insight into the resources required to mount such courses. But it is difficult at this time to judge whether it has reached the clientele it was aiming for and whether it has achieved its pedagogical objectives to the students' satisfaction, for we do not yet have a systematic assessment of the course from the students. The instructor relates that most students were enthusiastic about the format, as is to be expected of 'early adopters' of any given technology. But it appears obvious that this type of course is only suited to a fraction of the student population and that it cannot replace traditional forms of course delivery. From a pedagogical standpoint, it has the virtue of requiring the instructor to do meticulous planning and tracking of the student's progress. The other side of the coin is that such courses are also faced with technical difficulties that are often outside the control of either instructor or students: networks go down, Internet links disappear or move, students' machines break down, etc.

Did the course reach its intended target, namely students who otherwise could not attend classes or who prefer to be free of the time constraints of the classroom? The course drew about a quarter of its enrolment from outside regular university programs. A third of the other students were from other programs than History, and a little over a third were enrolled in the History program. Registration for the Fall 1998 offering of the course stands at 87; almost three quarters of students come from other programs than History, but only four are from outside the university. The course appears to be drawing to History a wider constituency than the traditional format. Conversely, it has drawn a smaller proportion of its enrollment from History majors, which is a concern for the department. Whatever the shifts in clientele, it is clear that this teaching formula has yet to gain 'mass appeal.'

How the Internet version of the course will fit within the regular History undergraduate curriculum remains to be seen. The department's position is that the course cannot be given exclusively on the Web as part of its regular course offerings. Its normal rotation on our calendar is every two years, and the experiment has allowed us to offer it more frequently because of financial support from the administration. Yet the course has also involved extra costs for the department and it is unknown how long it can bear these costs when enrolments remain small compared to the traditional format of the course. These issues need to be addressed in the coming year.

.24. The place of multimedia technology in the history curriculum: assessment and recommendations

As with any pedagogical innovation, the integration of multimedia technology into an undergraduate History curriculum requires a suitable mixture of enthusiasm and prudence. Enthusiasm is necessary to generate support and student acceptance. Prudence is required to ensure that the introduction of multimedia technology answers specific and explicit pedagogical needs and that the resources required for a successful implementation are available.

A significant benefit of the process of integrating multimedia technology into the History curriculum is that it will trigger a review of existing pedagogical objectives and practices.At the program level, making training in multimedia technology a general objective of an undergraduate History program should be considered, in order to equip students with the technical skills required in today's labor markets. At the course level, defining a clear pedagogical objective for the use of technology is essential and this objective has to be congruent with the overall objectives of the course. These in turn will help in determining the appropriate multimedia content to include in the course.

The experience gained over the last year with multimedia technology has made us aware of the need to include basic training in the use of electronic resources for historical research in our first-year methods course. This is being done in the Fall 1998 semester. Use of the Histoire-Hypermédia tool is integrated into these courses.

The inclusion of multimedia literacy in upper level courses should gradually become a 'natural' part of assignments. Most students quickly learn the rudiments of Web navigation and many, if not most, have done so prior to university. This will increasingly be the case. Most students will soon be more technologically fluent than most of their instructors. What History faculty can offer students as part of an undergraduate education is training in how to use electronic resources, and the Web in particular, for scholarly purposes. Our department is proceeding in that direction. We are making use of the Web as an efficient, quick, and cheap method of dissemination for course materials. The Web has also been used as a means of turning individual student work into a common class resource. [9] Students can readily see how the Web opens up new communications channels between faculty and students and among students.

Turning students from consumers to producers on the Web can yield clear pedagogical benefits as long as students are not overwhelmed by technical hurdles. Students can compare their work with that of others and more easily recognize their own strengths and weaknesses. Students will be also very much aware that their productions have a potential world-wide audience and that their work will be judged not only by their instructor, but by anyone who happens onto their site. This is a strong motivator to produce the best possible work.

It is also important that the introduction of multimedia technology in a given History curriculum proceed gradually. Experience is best gained in cumulative short steps, particularly if resources are hard to come by. Another reason is that technology changes rapidly and technological choices made at the outset of a long-term project may not be optimal once the project is nearing completion. And projects always do take longer than estimated! So it is important to keep the focus on content. The experience we gained with the Histoire-Hypermédia project is instructive in this regard. We worked first on content and waited until content was almost complete before committing to a delivery platform. This proved wise, since when the project began, WWW browsers had limited navigational capabilities and we had envisioned using a proprietary - and expensive - hypermedia environment. We changed our minds when WWW browsers improved.

It is also crucial to choose as simple a multimedia environment as is compatible with course objectives. Students and staff often lack the resources to keep their computing platforms up to date with the latest technological advances. Fancy animation, video, and sound usually require computing and network facilities that are beyond these users' resources. There is no point creating these types of multimedia documents if few people can access them!

In conclusion, it is worth stressing once more that any multimedia implementation in the History curriculum must focus on pedagogical objectives and on the contents required to achieve those objectives. This is what we as historians are best suited to define, however great our technical skills and fondness for technology may be. Let us remember that content has a much longer half-life than any given technology, and that the efforts expended in making sure of its quality will bring longer-term benefits than efforts expended at mastering technology.

.26. Notes

This is a revised and updated version of a paper presented at the 13th International Conference of the Association for History and Computing, Toledo, July 20-23, 1998. The conference papers were published on CD-ROM: F. J. Aranda Pérez, F. Fernández Izquierdo, P. Sanz Camañes, ed., La Historia en une nueva frontera/History in a new frontier. XIII International Conference of the Association for History and Computing, Toledo, 20-23 July 1998. Toledo [Spain]: Asociación Historia e informática/Ediciones de la Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha/Digibis, 1998.

1. See David F. Noble's alarming description of the coming of digital diploma mills at A better multimedia rendering of the article is available at

2. We have an example in American history ready for inclusion and intend to include one in Latin American history as well; this will cover the major fields taught in our departments.

3. Only one publisher out of about seventy has refused us permission. The publisher is the Presses universitaires de France, which argued that copyright legislation regarding the Internet is "uncertain."

4. Here is the official course description: /HI1>

5. See the list of sites prepared for the course at Some of the sites were removed by students for copyright reasons or because they felt their site was not presentable enough.

6. The course began with 31 students and ended with 26.

7. The address for the current version is Since most of the material for this year's course is on a CD-ROM, one should consult last year's version of the course, where all the multimedia material is on the Web, to obtain a better idea of course structure and contents. The address is

8. For each of the 45 hours of class time, students are expected to do two hours' work, for a total of 135 hours.

9. I have taught a Canadian History course to education majors in which one of the assignments was a critical assessment of audiovisual or computer resources for teaching Canadian History at the high school level. Students were required to fill a common template, available on the course Web site, and to submit it either by e-mail or on a disk. I then put all the assessments on the course Web site ( as a resource for current and future students.

José E. Igartua

Département d'histoire
Université du Québec à Montréal
C.P. 8888, succ. Centre-ville
Montréal (Québec) H3C 3P8

Bibliography of European Economic and Social History

Type de bibliographie Bibliographie rétrospective
Dates de parution des documents recensés Jusqu'à 1989 environ pour la seconde édition
Période historique 1700-1939
Aire géographique à l'exclusion des îles Britanniques
Thèmes Histoire économique et sociale; démographie historique
Indications d'usage
  • Cet outil s'adresse en priorité aux étudiants et aux enseignants (anglophones) plutôt qu'aux chercheurs chevronnés.
  • Pour la Grande-Bretagne, on consultera: Bibliography of British Economic and Social History (Manchester, 1984).
  • Limité à la production de langue anglaise.



Titre formel Bibliography of European Economic and Social History
Auteur(s) ALDCROFT, Derek H. et Richard RODGER
Adresse bibliographique
  • 1ère éd.: Manchester, Manchester University Press
  • 2e éd.: Manchester / New York, Manchester University Press
Type de bibliographie Bibliographie rétrospective
Dates de parution 1984 et 1993
Fréquence de parution Deux éditions


Cote de l'UQAM Z7165 E88 A4
Inventaire de l'UQAM Un exemplaire de la première édition (1984)
Cote de l'Université Laval Z7165 E89 A357
Inventaire de l'Université Laval Un exemplaire de chaque édition
Cote de l'Université de Montréal [REF] Z7165 E95 A42
Inventaire de l'Université de Montréal Un exemplaire de chaque édition


Thèmes Histoire économique et sociale; comprend aussi des travaux de démographie historique et, pour certains pays, d'histoire de l'éducation, des sciences et des techniques.
Thèmes exclus  
Aire géographique Europe (y compris la Turquie, l'Islande, la Russie et les États baltes); la Grande-Bretagne et l'Irlande sont toutefois exclues (voir ).
Période 1700-1939 pour l'essentiel (voir 1ère ou 2e éd., p. ix); quelques-unes des publications recensées débordent de ce cadre.
Type de documents recensés Ouvrages de synthèse; monographies; articles de périodiques; ouvrages collectifs (mélanges, actes, etc.); éditions de sources; bibliographies; quelques publications officielles (ex.: statistiques émanant d'un gouvernement, d'un organisme ou d'une association).
Documents exclus  
Lieux de parution des documents recensés Surtout dans l'aire anglo-saxonne
Dates de parution des documents recensés Du XIXe siècle jusqu'à 1982 (1ère éd.) ou jusqu'à 1989 environ (2e éd.)
Langue des documents Anglais exclusivement


Résumés Non
Autres précisions Les titres jugés trop vagues sont brièvement explicités.
Liste des publications dépouillées Non
Mode d'emploi Erreur! Signet non défini.», pp. ix-x de chaque édition)
Schéma des notices Non
Abréviations Non
Autre Non


Mode de classement principal

  • La première section («Europe») regroupe les travaux de portée plus générale
  • Pour le reste: classement par régions (ex.: Europe méridionale)
  • Sous-classement Erreur! Signet non défini. (ex.: Espagne)
  • Subdivision en rubriques thématiques, dont les titres sont relativement uniformes d'un pays à l'autre
  • Dans chaque rubrique, les notices sont classées par auteurs et par directeurs


  • Cet outil s'adresse en priorité aux étudiants et aux enseignants (anglophones) plutôt qu'aux chercheurs chevronnés.
  • La première édition comporte un peu plus de 6000 notices; la seconde, environ 9000. Dans cette dernière, les travaux jugés dépassés ou peu pertinents ont été remplacés par de plus récents (voir 2e éd., p. x).
  • L'histoire économique et sociale de la Grande-Bretagne a été délibérément exclue par les auteurs, pour ne pas faire double emploi avec la Bibliography of British Economic and Social History (Manchester, 1984) de W. H. Chaloner et R. C. Richardson.
  • En général, on donne la référence de la première édition d'un ouvrage, sauf lorsque les éditions subséquentes ont entraîné une révision substantielle de son contenu (voir p. ix de chaque édition).
  • Attention: les travaux couvrant deux pays différents sont indiqués dans les sections correspondant à chacun de ces pays, alors que les travaux couvrant plus de deux pays sont rassemblés dans les sections générales (ex.: un ouvrage portant à la fois sur la France, la Belgique et l'Allemagne sera répertorié dans la section «Europe») (voir pp. ix-x de chaque édition).

HIS4017-30 L'historien et les ressources documentaires des archives et des musées (A97)

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JEI 97-09-19 22:04