All the possibilities

So, all these weeks I have been blogging about all these different ways to make history fun and more modern using digital means. Today I would like to look at a more serious approach. I want to get a spotlight on the different learning networks and different ways that you can use nowadays to learn about history online.

So, all these weeks I have been blogging about all these different ways to make history fun and more modern using digital means. Today I would like to look at a more serious approach. I want to get a spotlight on the different learning networks and different ways that you can use nowadays to learn about history online.

I think the most easy way (I think you will all agree) is Wikipedia. Some of you might think: “Really? Isn’t that a really bad idea?” The answer to that is yes. It is not the best idea to literally write your papers and using Wikipedia as a source. But… here is where it gets interesting. I use Wikipedia regularly to find subjects for big papers. This past semester I had a course on ancient Athenian citizenship and I had to write a paper of 6.000 words about it. I had a lot of trouble finding a research subject though. So what I did was go to the Wikipedia page about Athenian democracy (the English page because there is more information on there). There they had a little bit written about a phenomena that I immediately found interesting. But this is not the only reason Wikipedia can be useful. If you go to the bottom of the page you see the references that are mentioned in the page. And while teachers don’t condone the use of Wikipedia, those references are often legit sources that CAN be used for your paper. But for me Wikipedia is the best because I sometimes don’t understand the ‘legit’ sources and then I first read the Wikipedia page to get a bit of understanding before I get into the ‘real stuff’.

Another way to really find something out about history using the internet could be YouTube. Over the years there has been an explosion of informational videos about all kinds of things. Really popular at the moment have been the TED-Talks. These are given by legit professors. One of my own professors, Olaf Kaper, has given a TED-Talk about the disappearance of a 50.000 Egyptian army.

Fascinating stuff this!

But I suppose the best ways are MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses). These are free and open for everyone. In 2017 the University Leiden even wrote a piece about it on their website. Nineteen courses from the University Leiden were about to become available on Coursera (a great website). The awesome thing about these MOOCS are that they are given by real professors at real universities. The best thing is that they are free, but for money you could also get a certificate if you really followed the course and did the assignments.

The website mentioned before, Coursera, is a really good website if you are looking to do a really nice course. The subjects are all over the place, from the Ancient Greeks to Data Structures and Algorithms to learning Korean. This website offers it all.  I personally love the history courses because there are sometimes courses available that fascinate me tremendously (like Magic in the Middle Ages).

When people talk about university it sometimes looks as if they are describing a different kind of world. And I agree with that, university can sometimes function as a vacuum where all this exchanging of knowledge takes places behind closed doors. I think that by getting the information on the internet and available to everyone these doors are being opened a bit. With for instance Coursera everyone can learn from a real university professor. All you need is the internet. The internet, a place full of memes and cats, opens up the world bit by bit.


Show CommentsClose Comments

1 Comment

  • Francesca dlss
    Posted December 23, 2018 at 1:17 pm 0Likes

    I agree that TED talks and Coursera courses are two interesting options among all the possible ways to learn something about academic disciplines, such as history. I have used both and think that these two online platforms can reflect the digitalisation of knowledge, which is well visible and easily accessible to everyone, including students and teachers. They form a learning/sharing space where whoever can learn more and become part of.

Leave a comment