Historiana – Your Portal to the Past

Winner of the Special Prize for European Collaboration in the creation of Educational Media 2012

MEDEA Awards Special Prize Winner 2012

This educational website on global history, heritage and citizenship education was created in 2011 by EUROCLIO, the European Association of History Educators. Historiana is aimed primarily at students (from age 14) and their history teachers in Europe and beyond, but it is also being used for English language learning and cross-curricular lessons with other subjects (such as Geography).

The website consists of digitised source material from museums, archives and other heritage institutes, making history and heritage tangible. The material is designed to stimulate critical thinking as visitors can compare historical developments across time and place, and find connections, differences and similarities helping them recognise how the same events and developments may be interpreted in different ways, reflecting different perspectives. For example, by showing the connection between national histories from a global perspective, and content that is inclusive for all people, regardless of their cultural, religious or ethnic background, Historiana is highly suitable as a resource to support teaching in a multicultural environment.

The showcase video of Historiana including an interview with Geert Kessels

Teachers can find relevant online educational material by theme, period and location. Each theme (and subtheme) links the material to curricula and has its own learning objectives. Alternative themes and topics such as Human Rights, Migration and the Environment, are integrated alongside traditional ones such as the World Wars and the Industrial Revolution.

A unique feature of the Historiana website is the possibility to compare and contrast historical case studies that focus on causes and contributing factors, identify significant events and their main consequences, highlight how people experienced these events, and help us to make historical connections and understand the bigger picture.

What the judges said

“Historiana is an educational website that offers young people free access to quality education materials on history and heritage from a global perspective. The quality of the content provided is very good, the learning objectives are clear and properly addressed.” “It is easy to use and has structured guidance questions that work as a table of contents for every subject.” “An interesting initiative, it is aesthetically well designed and user friendly, and presents a holistic critical perspective about historical facts and social consequences.”

About the creation of Historiana – Your Portal to the Past

Screenshot of Historiana

Screenshot of Historiana

Steven Stegers (senior manager of EUROCLIO), who submitted the entry, on the background of Historiana – Your Portal to the Past: “The study of history enables students to acquire a consciousness of the past and an awareness of how historical interests, perception and categories change with time. We believe history teaching in schools should promote the development of critical thinking, enquiry-based work, skills-based learning using primary sources and multi-perspectivity. Skills-oriented learning, rather than fact-focused teaching, asks for new tools which enable students to read between the lines, to analyse and make cross-references between different narratives and sources and put them in a wider picture. Historiana helps students to appreciate the cultural, ethnic and religious diversity of the world they live in, and think critically about their own views, values, identities and their role in society.

Screenshot of Historiana

Screenshot of Historiana

At the moment our team is developing a Teaching and Learning ideas section which will be integrated into the whole website through exercises, video tutorials, lesson plans, activities and tips & tricks. Over time the website will contain all kinds of historical sources including extracts from important documents, photographs, cartoons, maps and audiovisual material, and will include timelines, interactive learning activities, source galleries and modules on a wide range of historical events and developments which have been organised around broad historical themes. In January 2013, a new project will start to see in which eLearning elements for the teaching of history through Historiana will be used.

Screenshot of Historiana

Screenshot of Historiana

Historiana tries to integrate a global perspective, but most materials focus on Europe because the initiative came from EUROCLIO – the European Association of History Education, and many contributors chose to develop material on the histories that they are most familiar with. We warmly invite voluntary contributors (who also be familiar with other regions) to develop material with the help from our editing team, and additional material is also being developed by EUROCLIO projects in the Balkans (History that Connects), the Black Sea Region (Sharing History, Cultural Dialogues) and North Africa and the Middle East (Mediterranean Dialogues).

In 2011, Historiana won the World Aware Education Award by the North South Center of the Council of Europe.”

About Geert Kessels

Geert Kessels

Geert Kessels

Geert Kessels received his BA in History from the Radboud University Nijmegen and his MA Phil at the University of Amsterdam. At EUROCLIO he is responsible for the development of the Historiana programme.

Geert represented this entry at the MEDEA Awards 2012 Ceremony and talked about it in further detail during a presentation at the Media & Learning Conference 2012 Brussels. During the MEDEA Awards Ceremony, that took place during this conference, Historiana was announced the Winner of the Special Prize for European Collaboration in the creation of Educational Media 2012 and received a MEDEA Medal as well as an Acer Tablet and a Camtasia & SnagIt software bundle.

Project website