MAKING HISTORY COURSES RELEVANT AND ATTRACTIVE TO ENGINEERING AND SCIENCE MAJORS BY BRINGING ARCHIVAL RESEARCH WITHIN THEIR REACH: THE PAPYRUS INITIATIVE
National and Capodistrian University of Athens (GREECE)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Conference name: 3rd International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 9-11 March, 2009
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:The benefits and limits of the introduction of computing and related technologies in the teaching of courses in technology and the natural and life sciences are being studied by scores of education specialists. However, apart from interactive multimedia story-telling software for younger ages, there is really little support for undergraduate history students, and, especially for those that take history courses in the context of a technology–oriented curriculum. When students of this specific category are asked to prepare essays, they usually limit themselves to secondary sources. Primary sources (e.g., archival texts) have been outside of their reach and ability to use.
On the other hand, more and more historical archives digitize their content and make it available through the web. Having primary sources available digitally and accessible through the web may amount into a very beneficial step for history researchers and students alike.
Papyrus, a European project that has started in March 2008, promises a set of tools to this end. Papyrus is a cross-discipline digital library that attempts to bring together primary and secondary sources through their appropriate domain ontologies. As a case study for Papyrus the domains of History of Technology and News Archives have been selected.
Elaborate domain ontologies, i.e. categorizations of important domain concepts as well as their interrelations have been developed and will be used to tag the primary and secondary material. This material is historical information as available in essays and the news items of News Archives. Appropriate browsing and querying tools are being created, to facilitate navigation within the two domains as well as easy information retrieval.
However, the important innovation of Papyrus with direct applications in education is the direct connections between the primary and secondary material, as expressed through the mappings between the history and news ontologies. The history ontology offers a modeling of important terms that takes into account the changes of concepts with the passage of time. As a result, on one hand, the student may review the history of the term. On the other hand, taking into account these connections between related terms, Papyrus may retrieve more relevant results from the news content at the same time diminishing the irrelevant ones. Papyrus may then present these results using innovative filtering and visualization techniques to allow interactive exploration of the available primary and secondary sources. It will also provide the option of saving the results of the search for the user to review off-line.
In the context of this paper, we will present our work, based on two case studies, which are designed to illustrate how a technology-science major can use Papyrus in order to produce an historically informed perspective on biomedical and environmental engineering.
Keywords: ontology, history, news, digital archives, information retrieval, education of history, history of.