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      Digital learning in European history education: Political visions, the logics of schools and teaching practices

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          Abstract

          The advancement of digital technology has raised hopes of radical improvements in education, such as a new culture of learning. History educators have underlined that the use of digital media could help students to develop a constructivist understanding of history while at the same time rendering history more vivid, relevant and exciting. The last twenty years have shown, however, that even though digital media are increasingly being used in schools, there have been no significant changes in European education systems. This paper helps explain the gap between expectations and reality by exploring how contemporary education policies and curricula in the EU and at the national level frame digital learning in schools and history education. It shows that the ambitious vision of digital learning included in EU policies is closely related to the EU's knowledge economy goals, to which national governments, however, do not fully subscribe. These national policies emphasize the wider role of education in society, which includes strengthening social cohesion and incorporating humane, democratic and civic values. They also take into account the relative autonomy of schools, whose own institutional logics eventually decide how ideas take shape in everyday teaching practice. The relative autonomy of schools is reflected by history curricula that do not include substantial requirements, but only a few optional suggestions concerning the use of digital media. Practitioners' experiences and empirical research indicate that the suggested uses can be part of effective student-centred teaching approaches, but demand considerable investments of time, resources, efforts and creativity. The discussion of these examples also illustrates that the economistic EU vision of digital learning is not a suitable framework for the key concerns of history education. A revised vision of digital learning could and should, therefore, include other important education aims, such as democratic values, social cohesion and active citizenship.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          75011015
          History Education Research Journal
          UCL IOE Press
          1472-9474
          1472-9466
          01 April 2020
          : 17
          : 1
          : 4-21
          Article
          1472-9474(20200401)17:1L.4;1- s2.phd /ioep/herj/2020/00000017/00000001/art00002
          10.18546/HERJ.17.1.02
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          History Education Research Journal
          Volume 17, Issue 1

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