La lettre Riabova

Winner of the Special Prize of the MEDEA Jury 2014

MEDEA Prize Winner 2014

The objective of this web documentary is to increase knowledge of Russian and Soviet society under Stalin by studying the letter of denunciation of Vera Riabova, an ordinary woman living at the time of the first five-year plans, collectivisation and urbanisation in the early thirties. It is made by Université de Bourgogne, France and represented at the awards by Francois-Xavier Nerard from Université de Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne.

The study of this document via a web documentary sheds light on the problems in the Soviet Union and explains the Soviet social and political structures and their impact on the economic, social and moral life of the Soviets in 1933.
Media coverage of the study of a document archive via the web documentary genre immerses us in this world making concrete a specific time in history.

The showcase video of La lettre Riabova including an interview with Deborah Arnold and François-Xavier Nérard.

This resource crosses two educational approaches. On the one hand, the web documentary is expositive. The student assimilates new knowledge by directing his attention to the content. The pedagogical aspects were created for this reason: voice-over on the letter, sound, photographs… On the other hand, this web documentary allows more interactivity and participation. The structure raises the curiosity of the student. By clicking on the interactive links, the student can search for information themselves.


What the judges said

"Regarding the didactical quality of the material, the learning objective (the functioning of the Stalinist system and the practice of denunciation) is clear and well addressed. There is enough interactive learning content (e.g. a good number of video documentaries) and the narrative will help the learner to keep focused. Some form of learning effectiveness assessment has been carried out by the Scientific Council of the Université Ouverte des Humanités (France), with good results. Regarding the context of the learning, it will most probably support learning very well for both classroom use and online (individual) use. The selection of the media as well as the design and the production quality are at the right level for the learning objective and for the target audience."

About La lettre Riabova

Screenshot of La lettre Riabova


This web documentary is designed for students of 3rd year Bachelor of History degree who need to increase their knowledge on the functioning of the Stalinist system in the 1930s and the practice of denunciation, beyond the Soviet specificities.

Screenshot of La lettre Riabova


The interactive format gives the student the opportunity to revisit issues that have sparked his or her interest according to their needs. This resource can be used as self-learning, a flipped classroom or in a distance education system. The web documentary comes with a pedagogic guide that contains these three teaching scenarios for the integration in a course or training.

In terms of updating, bibliographical references and subtitled videos are expected to be added to the resources soon.

About Deborah Arnold and François-Xavier Nérard

Deborah Arnold

Deborah Arnold

After studying French and linguistics at Aston University in Birmingham (UK), Deborah Arnold worked as an English trainer in Greece and then as Director of Studies for a language training institute in Dijon, France. Developing courses around computer-aided language learning, video and audio encouraged her to take a Masters in Media and Communication Studies at the University of Burgundy, including a term at the Institute of Education, University of London and a work placement at BBC Learning English.

From 2000 to 2011, she worked as a project manager at Vidéoscop - the audiovisual and multimedia production department of Université Nancy 2 - developing, coordinating and participating in transnational projects under the eLearning and Lifelong Learning programmes. Since January 2012, she has been working as Director of Learning Technology at the University of Burgundy, managing a small production team and contributing to the university's technology-enhanced learning strategy to encourage more widespread and better use of media and technology for teaching and learning.Deborah also teaches multimedia project management on the Euromédias Master at the University of Burgundy and the analysis of educational media on an online Master for Paris 3 Sorbonne Nouvelle. She is involved in several European networks and communities of practice in the fields of ICT and digital media for education (EDEN,DIVERSE, eLene) and has been running the French National Contact Point for the MEDEA Awards since 2009.

François-Xavier Nérard

François-Xavier Nérard

Francois-Xavier Nérard is an assistant professor at Paris 1 University and specialises in Soviet and twentieth-century European History. He worked on denunciations and complaints in Russia, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. He is also working on memory topics (memory of Stalin's mass graves) and his last project is about taste and consummation in USSR, and more precisely on collective catering and canteens during the Stalin's Industrial revolution.

During the MEDEA Awards Ceremony that took place during the Media & Learning Conference, “La lettre Riabova” was announced as the Winner of the Special Prize of the MEDEA Jury 2014, Deborah Arnold and François-Xavier Nérard received the MEDEA Medal.

Web Documentary