Guerrilla Internet Educators of History

History is present on internet not only through digital archives or websites of historical institutions. Common internet user talks about the past on discussion boards, in comments published on popular sites (like YouTube), while reading blogs or editing Wikipedia entries. This sphere of historical discussions usually (excluding maybe Wikipedia) is ignored by educators. There is no tools and no knowledge how to find, observe and moderate such activities – which can be recognized as a part of historical culture. Because of the growing impact of internet on social historical awareness and the potential range of such online distribution of history topics, that sphere may become one of the most important environment of historical education on internet.

Under the discussion about historical politics in Poland The KARTA Center has organized some time ago special panel. In his comment published later in the quarterly KARTA Tadeusz A. Olsza?ski, polish journalist, political scientist and translator of J.R.R. Tolkien essays and poems proposed that historical institutions and educators should be more engaged in the internet sphere. Wikipedia for him is an excelend tool for realizing educational projects. Professional educators working in the institutions could be taking part in the discussions about historical entries, inspiring new ones and engaging Wikipedians to collaborate with them on the next projects.

Such educators would have to be heavy internet users because of the indispensable competences – in the field of online navigation, use of internet tools and appropriate language (very important during online discussions). Wikipedia can be only one of many internet spheres where they could be working. Digg or YouTube comments system are also a virtual places where such historical work could be done. Educators also should be active on the popular discussion board and use Google tools to find most important historical talks on internet.

During the online debates they could post comments with appropriate historical facts and data, criticize mistakes and myths and suggest further readings (links, articles, books etc.). Of course they could also inspire new topics about history and in such way encourage to learn about the past.

The transparency of their work on the internet seems to be very important case. An anonymous comment published on discussion board has less importance that comment made by professional author authorised by official institution. There is of course also problem with the institution responsibility for statements published by its workers.

Such querrilla history educators could work with most important historical problems found on internet: Holocaust denial, popular historical myths etc. It would be an educational solution reached online spheres and activities ignored by other education projects (e.g. e-learning, school and academic websites etc.).

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