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5.3 Data collection tools

One important aspect of learning history is to collect data. Data collection is the process of preparing and gathering data, and the intention is to obtain data to learn, make a decision, or to share the information with others (Wikipedia 1, 2012).

Collecting data can be done in several ways. The pupils can find information online, they can check local libraries, they can visit historical scenes and they can talk to local resources. In this section we will present some tools that may support this.


5.3.1 Google Search

Google Search is the most used web-search engine on the World Wide Web (Wikipedia 2, 2012). The search engine is highly efficient when it comes to collecting data,  and it has a very easy user interface, where you only have one text area where you can enter your search query (see picture). This is favorable when it comes to primary school pupils since there are no distractions on the web page. When doing a Google Search you can search for pretty much anything you like; persons, places, artifacts etc.
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5.3.1.1 How to use it

To use Google Search you need a web browser and an Internet connection. Then you simply go to www.google.com and enter your search query in the text box. Google Search will return several links to sites that have more information about what you requested; sorted from most to least relevant. The teacher might give the pupils specific phrases to search for, or let them try out different words themselves. Below is a tutorial for Google seacrh engine.


5.3.1.2 Value for history learning

When it comes to history learning, Google Search is an easy way to collect information. It serves as a great way to collect data in the starting phase, as it does not require a lot of resources. All you need is a computer and an Internet connection. Another point is that Google Search gives the pupils the feeling of being in the control of their own learning, something that is important (section 3.2.2). By going out on the World Wide Web, the pupils will have control over how much data they actually gather.

5.3.2 Wikipedia

Wikipedia is a free, online encyclopedia available in multiple languages. It now consists of over 23 million articles that have been collaboratively created by volunteers (Wikipedia 4, 2012). 

With its extensive number of articles, Wikipedia is a great way to collect information for pupils, especially when there are not so strict requirements for academic citations. The video below gives a quick introduction to what Wikipedia is and how it works.


5.3.2.1 How to use it
When using Wikipedia you have to go to www.wikipedia.org. Then you choose your language and enter what you are searching for. If Wikipedia have an article related to what you have searched for, you will be redirected to that article.

Another good aspect with Wikipedia articles it that most articles usually include links to other articles on Wikipedia. This means that it is easy to find more information about something if you did not understand it, or if you want more information.  



5.3.1.2 Value for history learning
Wikipedia is a great way to collect information. Compared with Google Search, Wikipedia has its strength in the fact that you are directed directly to an article, while with Google Search you are presented with several links, and you have to choose what information you want to look into. For example, if you search for “George Washington” you get straight to an article about him on Wikipedia, while in Google Search you are presented with several options This is positive related to what we said in the introduction to part 5; that the tools should not be too complicated, and should emphasize the learning aspect.


5.3.3 Camera

In this context we are talking about a camera in general. This can either be a camera embedded in a phone, or a stand-alone camera. We assume that the camera can take photos, as well as make video recordings.

Our intention is that the students can go on field trips as described in part 3.3, and by having a camera the pupils will be able to collect visual information that can be used for later work.  


5.3.3.1 How to use it
Describing how to use a camera is hard since there exists a wide variety of cameras and camera applications. In general, you either take a still photo or do video recording. The material can then be transferred to a computer where it can be used for different learning purposes. The cameras might for example be used to document field trips or record interviews.

5.3.3.2 Value for history learning
As pointed out in section 3.3, the majority of researchers and teaching personnel emphasize the importance of visual materials (Husbands et al, 2003), and a camera helps facilitate this. We also pointed out that collecting visual information is important when raising motivation (section 3.3). The use of a camera is crucial in achieving this.

Having the camera will also help us when using other tools, as mentioned in following sections.  


5.3.4 Recording Lite

Recording Lite is a free iPhone application that allows users to record audio and sounds. Similar applications exists for Android and other platforms. We will describe Recording Lite, and the teacher must research other tools for Android or other platforms if needed.

The application is intuitive and simple which means that the pupils does not need a lot of time getting to know it.

5.3.4.1 How to use it
When launching the application, the pupils have two choices:


  1. Make new recording which is done by pressing the red button, and
  2. View, and listen to previous recordings.

If the pupils are making a new recording, they can pause the recording at any time, and when they are done, the recording is automatically saved to the pupils’ list of recordings.

Saved recordings can be deleted, listened to and transferred to a computer.

5.3.4.2 Value for history learning
Recording Lite allows pupils to collect factual information in the field, which can be an important strategy for raising motivation (section 3.3). We picture pupils going out in field to interview local resources. Recording this will be valuable since the information can be replayed later in a  classroom setting or be used as a source of information. Having pupils interview different resources can also create a collaborative environment where the pupils listen to information that fellow pupils have collected.   


5.3.5 MyHeritage

MyHeritage is a free, online application tool that allows users to create a family tree. The application can be run through any web browser, and it is available in 38 languages. MyHeritage also includes a social factor which allows users share pictures, videos etc.

5.3.5.1 How to use it
To start creating a family tree, the user must go to www.myheritage.com. To start building the tree you must enter your own name as well as your mother’s and father’s name. Once you have done this you are inside the application, and you can now expand you family tree, add photos and share information. An easy tutorial for MyHeritage can be viewed below.



5.3.5.2 Value for history learning
Looking at the previous parts of our chapter, we can see that MyHeritage can be valuable for history learning in several ways:


  • As elaborated in section 3.2.2 pupils will become more motivated when they can connect with what they are learning. Making a family tree will help the pupils relate their family history with the local history.
  • Interactive activities are good (section 3.2.2), and creating the family tree can be solved interactively with parents and family.
  • Creating a family tree can also be a mystery solving activity, which will help develop analytical skills (section 3.3)

In section 3.3 we also mentioned specifically building a family tree as a way to raise motivation, and this tool will help teachers and pupils doing this.

 

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