Resources and useful contents

Teaching strategies


Would you like to play in the orchestra?

Discover the attitude that Mussolini kept toward the press, starting from his speech to the newspapers editors on 10th October 1928.

World War I

It started on 28 July 1914 when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia but it quickly escalated into a European and then a global war. It was the first ‘total war’ of the industrial era, a phrase attributed to the German General, Erich Ludendorff. It lasted for more than four years. During that time around 9 million combatants died and 7 million civilians. In all, 65 million soldiers, sailors and airmen were mobilised during the course of the war – 42 million on the side of the Allies and nearly 23 million on the side of the Central Powers. Over half of them (57%) were killed, wounded, missing in action or were taken prisoner. Some countries were particularly badly hit. In Russia 76% of the fighting force were casualties of war. In France the figure was 73%. In Austria-Hungary the figure was an astonishing 90%. Even if we allow for the fact that some of the casualties were suffering from Spanish influenza – the epidemic which swept across Europe in 1918 – it is not difficult to see how World War 1 had such a devastating effect on post-war Europe and why people talked of a lost generation – a term which came to refer not only to the millions of dead and missing in action but also those who returned but were no longer able to cope with normal civilian life. By the end of the war the German Empire and the Russian Empire were considerably smaller and the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires had been dismantled. At the Paris Peace Conference the map of Europe was redrawn with several independent nations restored or created. US President Woodrow Wilson, optimistically described World War 1 as ”the war to end all wars” and the peace settlement at Versailles as designed “to make the world safe for democracy”. Sadly the optimism was misplaced. Marshall Foch, who had been the Allied Supreme Commander during the war, correctly predicted of the Treaty of Versailles, “This is not peace. It is an armistice for 20 years”. The seeds had been sown that led to the outbreak of World War 2 in 1939. But also the roots of current and recent conflicts in Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon and Libya can be traced back to many of the decisions made by the international powers in 1919-20.

Changing Europe

Welcome to this Historiana module about Europe and the European Union. It sets the European Union in its historical context and enables students to understand that Europe faces, and has always faced, dilemmas that require decisions. The people of the continent of Europe have tried various different ways of managing conflict across the centuries. They have formed alliances, signed treaties, sometimes tried to dominate each other, and more recently have formed supranational organisations where they have common interests. By considering the European Union as one of these methods to manage conflict in Europe, students can take a historical perspective on the contemporary world. This world was very much formed by the Europeans who emerged from violent conflict in the first half of the 20th century. The diverse life stories of a variety of Europeans have much to reveal about the hopes and fears of Europe’s people in the immediate post-war years. Some people decided that the way to avoid violent conflict in future was to develop a European Union. That Union tackles difficult dilemmas, such as how to keep the continent politically stable, how to manage food supplies and how to agree foreign policy needs. The decisions that have been made to find solutions to specific dilemmas often lead to the need for further decisions to deal with unexpected consequences, and of course European people are affected by world events and changes. By taking an evidence-based and problem-solving approach this module will enable students to engage with, and become more knowledgeable about, the European project.

Silencing Citizens through Censorship

When a state decides what people are allowed to see, read and know, we can speak of censorship. It is as old as the first civilizations. Censorship and propaganda have been used as tools for keeping people down across countries and regimes no matter which ideology the state was loyal to. Censorship and propaganda under dictatorial and totalitarian regimes can be studied in many historical contexts. Censorship has been applied in different ways depending on different national histories and propaganda by a given regime and circumstances. Striking examples can be found in Mussolini’s Italy between 1922-1943 on traditional family values, Hitler´s Germany between 1933-1945 on art, or Franco’s Spain from 1939-1975 on religious affairs. After the Second World War one can mention Hungary and its many writers in opposition, Yugoslavia where officially there was no censorship, and Poland which under Communist rule had a strong ideological censorship. Because censorship is so diverse, it is a complex topic. There are three strands of censorship. The first one is preventive censorship, keeping information from the people. It can be recognized in letters when words or parts are blacked out before the message is delivered. The second one is informative censorship. This provides an evidence base which is used to formulate social or cultural policy, or track down ‘subversives’. When a state developed a habit of espionage on its people, intelligence could use it to gauge the morality of the citizens, but also to track where they were and what they were up to. The third strand is productive censorship, expressed through propaganda, by which a specific image is constructed, a kind the untrained eye can’t see. For example it can produce good presentations of the leaders and the nation. In this function censorship goes hand in hand with propaganda. When we understand the three strands, we see that censorship not only occurred in non-democratic countries. In the twentieth century it became easier to spread information thanks to press, photography, film and internet. In today’s information society, the amount of information that travels freely across borders is difficult to control. Citizens may find ways to avoid being censored. This learning unit explores European history to help students understand how censorship worked, what the effect was on ordinary people and what this means for societies today in which free information and power continue to be entangled.

How does knowledge help us to use a source as evidence?

Applying knowledge to evaluate what a political cartoon can reveal about World War 1 in 1915

Managing conflict in Europe in times of Change: 1648 – 1945

What can we learn from a timeline about conflict management in Europe?

The challenge of European stability

How stable has Europe been 1945-today?

Rising from the Ruins: Rebuilding Europe after World War Two

How did the aftermath of World War Two lead to the founding of the European Union?

The role of postcards in World War 1

How far do postcards reveal what happened in World War 1?

Life in Europe 1945-1949

What was it like to live in postwar Europe?

Key Moments in the War

What happened in the First World War? Investigating the narrative of the First World War using a detailed timeline.

Underlying causes of World War One

Which was the most important underlying cause of World War One?

The war of words

How was propaganda used across the world in the First World War? Investigating similarities and differences in the uses of propaganda.

Key moments in the war

This learning activity helps students to investigate and evaluate narratives. Students are given four options to investigate the narrative of the First World War. The first involves simple questions, the second gets the students to streamline the war, the third gets them to summarise the war year by year and the fourth activity gets the students to graph the war. Teachers can choose to do use all or some of these materials, depending on the needs.

Silencing citizens through censorship

This unit help students understand how some of Europe’s totalitarian regimes in the twentieth century used censorship as a means of oppression, what the effect was on ordinary people, and what lessons can be drawn for societies today. The unit contains links to several transnational source collections, a multi-layered timeline and a series of learning activities, all related the totalitarian practice of silencing citizens though censorship.


Students search and find (historical) information
Using Archives: A Guide to Effective Research

This guide is designed to support people to do archival research. It explains how archives function, how to identify appropriate archives for your research, and how to access historical materials and research at an archive. Students using this guide will find a lot of practical information (such as how to request materials remotely or how to deal with copyright) that they can use when they are doing or planning their own archival research.

Why the world need WikiLeaks

In this TED talk Julian Assange, Founder of WikiLeaks, explains to TED’s Chris Anderson how the site (used to publish otherwise censored materials) operates, what it has accomplished – and what drives him. The video can be used to raise awareness of the limited information that is available to historians, and to trigger or facilitate dialogue, discussion, or debate about the moral issues related to access to information. The interview includes graphic footage of a recent US airstrike in Baghdad.

Listening to global voices

In this TED talk, the blogger and technologist Ethan Zuckerman talks about the biases that come with the use of new technologies, how these biases influence our world view, and what can be done to counter these biases when searching for information online. Students who see this talk will have a better understanding of the value and limitations of the information that they find, and get practice ideas on where to look for different perspectives.


Students evaluate and make judgements about (historical) information
Evaluating Information

The “Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning” manual by the Stanford History Education Group helps teachers develop and assess the civic online reasoning capacities of their students. The manual includes ready use to use exercises for students to help them analyse a home page, evaluate evidence, and assess of social media claims. Such skills are essential for students to have in today’s digital world.

Techniques of Propaganda

This 10-minute video “Propaganda Techniques” by Coronet Instructional Films shows methods of recognizing and evaluating propaganda and encourages the adoption of a judicious, critical attitude toward it. The fact that the video is made in 1949 will make students aware that propaganda is of all ages and the methods for recognizing and evaluation propaganda are still applicable.

How Do We Decide What to Believe?

In this blog post, Bob Bain, from the Big History Project, introduces four ways that people use to decide what to believe or not: Intuition (gut feeling), authority (relying credibility of source), logic (systematic reasoning) and evidence (verifiable information). The blog post provides a link to a video that explains these claim testers, and questions that can be used by teachers and students alike to question the validity claims. Ultimately, they will notice how the use of evidence and logical reasoning should be valued higher than authority.


Contropedia is an initiative to analyse and visualise controversies within Wikipedia articles. The rationale for this is that the edits of these articles tend to represent conflicts which often reflect larger societal debates, and therefore a good point of enquiry. A demo of the tool, showing the edits of global warming page on Wikipedia, is available. Studying this page will help students better understand how contested some information that is currently visible on Wikipedia can be, and stimulate them to also use the edit history in their research.

Reading like a historian

This series of lessons, produced by the Stanford History Education Group, are designed to support students to develop their historical thinking skills and learn to “read like a historian”. They are divided in United States History and World History, and organised in units such as American Imperialism and Cold War. The lesson plans and original documents can be downloaded after creating a free account.

How the news distorts our worldview

In this short TED talk, Alisa Miller (Head of Public Radio International) argues that, though we want to know more about the world than ever — the media is actually showing us less. Using statistics and graphs, she reveals how biased information in the news and on the web is towards national news. Students who watch this video, will better understand the value and limitation of the news as a source of information.

The power of cartoons

In this TED Talk, Patrick Chappatte (a cartoonist who has been published in major international newspapers) talks about power of cartoons. He shares how his work as cartoonist in Hanoi captured the interest of the Vietnamese police, reflects on the 2005 Danish Cartoon controversy, and reflects on the potential for cartoons to be used for good and for bad. Students watching this video will deepen their understanding of how and why cartoons are created and the potential they have to shape public opinion.

Students develop and present (historical) information
Writing basic news and news leads

This webpage, which is part of the book Reporting for the Media (10th edition), by the Oxford University Press, contains several useful information, including students exercises, to learn the basics of news reporting.  Many of the topics that are addressed – Selecting and reporting the news, Ethics, Basic News Leads, Quotation and Attribution – are also applicable for anyone who wants to present historical information. In this sense journalism and historians are twin disciplines.

Tiki-Toki – Online timeline maker

Tiki-Toki Online Timeline Maker helps students to present historical information in the form of interactive multi-stranded timelines. Multi-stranded timelines are a good tool to visualise historical developments that are happening in parallel, making it possible – for example – to present local and global history side by side. The application is easy to use, both for students and teachers, and with a free account it is possible to create one timeline.

3D Gallery Builder

3D Gallery Builder allows students to design their own virtual exhibition. In order for students to create their own exhibition they need to select sources, decided on titles, and make descriptions of the whole exhibition and each selected source. The final products is a 3D animation where visitors can see the visit the exhibition and see all the sources and the exhibition. Having developed such a product is motivating for students, and the skills they learn in developing the exhibition are essential for anyone who wants to present (historical) information.

Newspaper Designer Online

Newspaper Designer enables users to create the front pages of a newspaper based on one of several templates. In order for students to create a front page they have to think about the placement of the different news items, the selection and availability of images, as well as to think about the relative importance given to the different news items, decide what to include and what to leave out, and decide how to deal with the limited amount of words that can be used for titles. All essential skills for anyone who needs or wants to present information.

Storyboard Creator

Storyboard Creator enables users to create an online storyboard by choosing from a set of scenes, characters and text fields that can be dragged and dropped on a canvas. With this tool, students can create a story that looks good, with relatively little effort. In the context of history education, it should be clear to students that the exercise is not about story telling but about presenting history.

Women Should represent women

This TED by Talk Megan Kamerick (Journalist and Independent Producer) shows how news media underrepresent women as reporters and news sources, telling, because of that, an incomplete story. This video helps to make students aware of this bias against women in the presentation of the news and can be a good prompt to make students reflect about the way they present their own stories, and to whom they give a face and a voice.

Let’s try emotional correctness

This TED Talk by Sally Kohn (a political commentator and columnist in the USA and author of The Opposite to Hate) questions what appropriate ways of expressing yourself are. She argues that politicians need to transcend their political differences and really listen to each other, and be emotionally correct rather than politically correct. This talk can be used for students to critically reflect on the way they present their own information. What is the right tone? How will it impact on others?

Does the media have a “duty of care”?

This TED Talk by David Puttnam (an award winning producer of independent films, now committed to working on education and media) questions whether media has a moral imperative to create informed citizens, to support democracy? This talk can be used to make students reflect on the purpose of the information that they share and present and the responsibilities that they may have as producers of information.