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maandag 26 november 2007

Creating a European History Textbook Repository

The CITER project “Creating a European History Textbook Repository” is an eContentplus project funded by the European Commission. "The objective of this project is the creation of a digital European history textbook base by integration of already existing material with the publishers in the respective countries. The integration is achieved by introducing language independent metadata schemata based on space (locations), time (dates), and thematic categories.The specific metadata corpuses defined in this project will be a European thematic ontology for history concepts [and] a multilingual location corpus." "Overall, this project aims at increasing the use of electronic textbooks in a modern classroom scenario. The re-use of content will be increased by using language independent browsing in combination with quality machine translation providing access to foreign language content. Specifically designed educational evaluation scenarios will be used to access the usability in a classroom context, i.e., obtaining a multiperspective view of history but also as a research means for new textbooks." The project will be co-ordinated by the Research Academic Computer Technology Institute, located in Greece.

By adding multilingual metadata through ontologies, CITER will try to integrate history textbook resources with the aim of compiling a European text base and providing language-independent access. Teachers across Europe will have access to the history textbook content based on spatial, temporal and thematic metadata through a web-portal. The repository will provide support to the study of cross-cutting themes in history "by a multiperspective and a comparative approach to the discovery and interpretation of historical facts."

In this way it can become the basis for historical information for students. It will contain the facts and analysis of European history as it is widely accepted by scholars. Besides being an interactive tool that may make the experience of learning more interesting, it will also provide different angles to certain events. The Treaty of Versailles, for instance, did not have the same repercussions for France as for Germany. Both points of view can be presented within the repository.

Adding a multilingual historical metadata can prove to be a problem. Simply translating words is sometimes not enough. Certain events have a different wording in different languages sometimes. E.g. the uprising of the creoles and slaves against the Spanish in Cuba during the second half of the nineteenth century, where the Americans were involved in as well, is called the Spanish (-Cuban) -American War by the US. In Cuba it's named the War of Independance. Once these kinds of obstacles have been tackled, I think it might become a very interesting tool to work with.

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