Ideas to actively engage young people in heritage in an innovative and participatory way by using technology to bring heritage learning into the classroom.
Young people are the future custodians of our heritage. At the Irish Heritage Trust we are determined to engage young people with built heritage in participatory and innovative ways. The Fota and Strokestown Learning Zones are early efforts to achieve exactly this. Designed in 2010 and 2011 they seek to bring heritage research into schools through structured, web-based student enquiries that act as pre-visit activities for our houses. Students are challenged to investigate key events in the history of the houses and localities, such as the murder of Major Denis Mahon in Strokestown in 1847 or the impact of the Land Acts on the Fota Estate.
The Learning Zones are packed with primary and secondary resources. Students are guided to using these and other quality sources on the internet as part of their investigations. Some of these investigations are designed to be multi-disciplinary, such as ‘The Last September – Cork in September 1920’ where students are asked to act as a team of journalists, compiling a report on the news as it was reported in Cork in September 1920 for a modern audience. As such, they are asked to investigate the cultural context of Elizabeth Bowen’s novel ‘The Last September’, while researching the news as it was then and thinking about how to report it for people today.
All websites require occasional upgrades! The Learning Zones were designed before the advent of tablets and as such are not ‘responsive’. Since 2011 we have conducted more research on heritage and 21st century learning in collaboration with Bridge21. We hope to revise the Learning Zones in light of the findings of that research soon.