Rewriting history by exam

As a product of the Quebec education system, it was always apparent that what we were being taught was designed to promote a very clear agenda.  Robert Wilkins, a retired high school history teacher, reports today in the Montreal Gazette how the provincially-mandated final  exam in history has evolved in the decades since separatism raised its ugly head: Yet far more captivating is the content, and how the subject matter evolved through the years. Its rapid change might also help one better appreciate the present polemics. On the June 1970 examination, for instance, the first 10 questions contained queries about … Continue reading Rewriting history by exam

ARGs and the Classicist: Roger Travis

Roger Travis is doing amazing things in his classics classes.  He creates immersive learning experiences, and often his tools are low-tech, or old-tech, like interactive fiction (which I think doesn’t get enough respect in terms of digital learning!) In Operation KTHMA, the course on Herodotus and Thucydides, my students stood trial for breaking and entering the home of Pericles’ rival Thucydides son of Melesias. In FABULA AMORIS ROMANI, my students had to sing for Augustus, first emperor of Rome. In these moments, fun is being had—I have video of some of these moments, and there are actual smiles on my … Continue reading ARGs and the Classicist: Roger Travis

The Plan to Demolish Colborne Street in Brantford Ontario

The city of Brantford is going to demolish this street. You’d think, with this kind of resource, someone in City Hall could have a bit of vision. Full story here. There is, of course, a facebook group to join to register your dismay. Canada is filled with enough ugly architecture already, and has a curious case of cultural amnesia; no need to add to it. Continue reading The Plan to Demolish Colborne Street in Brantford Ontario

The Mines of Gatineau Park

The Mines of Gatineau Park – (S. Graham – appeared in Gatineau Park Chronicle v2, 2009 v4-5) The same geology that makes Gatineau Park a stunning panorama, from the Eardley  Escarpment to the rolling landscape of the Meech Creek Valley, also made the area  attractive to miners in the 19th and early 20th centuries. There is a certain romance in mines named “Eva” or “Pink,” and their ruins and tailings can be spotted underneath the dense underbrush which has, for the most part, reclaimed them. The names recall some of the earliest landowners and entrepreneurs: Forsythe, Baldwin, Lawless, Pink, Morris, … Continue reading The Mines of Gatineau Park

Historiographical issues & computer games

I punched that title into Google to see what would come up. Thought I’d share the more interesting results (in no particular order): Art Thief: An Educational Computer Game Model for Art Historical Instruction Jonathan Kinkley Jonathan Kinkley (art historian), 1240 N. Wood Street, #2, Chicago, IL 60622, U.S.A. E-mail: PDF (2,244.539 KB) PDF Plus (322.008 KB) ABSTRACT Cognitive research has revealed learning techniques more effective than those utilized by the traditional art history lecture survey course. Informed by these insights, the author and fellow graduate researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago designed a “serious” computer game … Continue reading Historiographical issues & computer games

Niall Ferguson on Counterfactuals and Playing Games

An oldish article in Wired on Niall Ferguson: What if the great events in history had turned out differently? How would the world today be changed? Niall Ferguson wonders about this a lot. He’s a well-known economic historian at Harvard, and a champion of “counterfactual thinking,” or the re-imagining of major historical events, with the variables slightly tweaked. In a 1999 book Virtual Histories, Ferguson edited a collection of delightfully weird counterfactual hypotheses. One essay argued that if Mikhail Gorbachev had never existed, the USSR would still exist today. Another posited an alternative 18th century in which Britain allows its … Continue reading Niall Ferguson on Counterfactuals and Playing Games

The Game’s the Thing

I’m headed of to the Niagara peninsula next month, for Playing With Technology in History. Here’s what I thought I’d talk about : Shawn Graham, “Rolling your own: On Modding Commercial Games for Educational Goals” Making modifications to existing commercial games is a strong and vibrant sub-culture in modern video gaming. Many publishers now provide tools to make this easier, as part of their marketing strategy. In this paper, I look at the nature and quality of the discussions that occur on the fan mod sites as a form of participatory history. I also reflect on some of my own … Continue reading The Game’s the Thing

Virtual Worlds: and the most powerful graphics engine there is

Virtual worlds are not all about stunning immersive 3d graphics. No, to riff on the old Infocom advertisement, it’s your brain that matters most.  That’s right folks, the text adventure. Long time readers of this blog will know that I have experimented with this kind of immersive virtual world building for archaeological and historical purposes. But, with one thing and another, that all got put on a back shelf. Today, I discover via Jeremiah McCall’s Historical Simulations / Serious Games in the Classroom site Interactive Fiction (text adventure) games about Viking Sagas – part of Christopher Fee’s English 401 course … Continue reading Virtual Worlds: and the most powerful graphics engine there is

Playing History: Your Source for Historical Games

Just came across the ‘playing history‘ website which, interestingly, is powered by Omeka. There is a wealth of resources here. Many are actually based in Canada. The Montreal Museum of Archaeology is one prominent developer of historical games based on Montreal’s history. There are many ancient-themed games listed too. A search on ‘Rome’ provides: Death in Rome You have until dawn to gather evidence and catch a killer… Tags: ancient, European history, Rome, mystery Gladiator: Dressed to Kill Game Prepare a gladiator for battle in the arena of death… Tags: ancient, European history, Rome, gladiator, battle CDX Follow Adam Foster … Continue reading Playing History: Your Source for Historical Games