History Teaching

Beyond the textbook - Principles and values

Information and communication technologies

"The information and communication technologies are now an integral part of the socialisation process. There are, it is true, glaring disparities between different countries and different regions within these countries. These disparities are deplorable, and we must do our utmost to eliminate them because they block the citizens’ access to knowledge, information and media which would help them to participate even more actively and meaningfully in the life of their local, regional and national communities and contribute to harmonious interaction at the international level. However, despite the disparities it is apparent that an increasing number of people are now required to share their environment and interact with such technologies in their places of work and that many citizens have personally decided to incorporate certain technologies into their daily environment and their family and social lives.

In fact, the information and communication technologies are already an integral part of the day-to-day lives of many individuals, and with the increasing integration of these technologies into various social spheres and inter-personal communications all the indications are that this trend will continue. All these tendencies, and especially all the social milieus which are integrating the technologies, including families and pre-school child-care facilities, are such that the socialisation process necessarily includes the presence of and inputs from the information and communication technologies.

When a phenomenon becomes part of people’s socialisation process, it inevitably becomes an inescapable concern for a number of social institutions. In the case of information and communication technologies, this characteristic is even more accentuated because these technologies perform important tasks or functions that support a number of individuals in their manual work (robotisation, automation, automated regulation, and so forth) or intellectual activities (modelling, simulation, graphic representation, translation, word processing, text correction), because they increase not only the resources but also the speed of communication (e-mail, electronic conferencing, electronic theme discussions, etc.) and help change the relations among individuals (such as written interaction, remote interaction, impersonal interaction) and between individuals and information/knowledge (document consultation, database consultation, thematic searching, videography and so forth). Any given society can react to such socialising forces by trying to prevent or limit their incursion into various fields of activity or relations, or else it can, on the contrary, do its utmost to make the phenomenon increasingly available and useful. All the indications are that present-day societies have adopted the latter approach to the information and communication technologies."

(Extract of "The challenges of the information and communication technologies facing history teaching", 1999, publication in the framework of project "Learning and teaching about the history of Europe in the 20th century")