You be Britain and I'll be Germany...'Inter-school e-mailing in Year 9


By Maggie Wilson, Heather Scott, published 1st March 2003

E-mailing is fast becoming our preferred means of communication and for good reason. It is immediate: we can fire off a few lines and receive a reply within seconds. It is also flexible: unlike a telephone conversation, we do not have to reply there and then; we can go away and ponder, fitting in the response when it suits us. Given that students love it too, it seems sensible to exploit all the benefits. But we should remember the mantra of all history and ICT innovators: ICT is a great tool as long as the history comes first. Heather Scott and Maggie Wilson demonstrate this perfectly. They explain how they set up a project between their two schools which exploited the spontaneity of e-mailing in motivating their students. It also focused these Year 9 students, encouraging them to reach decisions after evidence has been weighed and discussed. As with most successful ICT activities, the benefits lie not in the mechanics of the technology but in the reflection, manipulation or discussion that the technology facilitates. In this case, success lay in class discussions which took place in advance of e-mail exchanges. In other words, this is a speaking and listening activity. We know we have got somewhere when students talk animatedly about history in our lessons; we know we have really cracked it when they are doing this with students they have never even met.

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