Wednesday, 13 September 2017
Year 13 students studying History at A Level had the opportunity to discuss the use of digital media in this subject with Catriona Oliphant, Director of Chrome Radio, and Caitlin Kennedy. Chrome Radio recently produced ‘Enter the Peace Broker’, a docudrama podcast series which vividly brings the US entry to the First World War to life using first-hand accounts, and this formed the focus for two workshops.
First Catriona explained how Chrome Radio wanted to bring this moment in history to life by letting key characters tell the story in their own words. She emphasised that they had to be faithful to the sources and also talked about the idea behind creating a docudrama: to help people understand a complex moment in history while also provoking new interest and encouraging listeners to find out more.
In addition, she summarised how they chose the timeline for the dramatisation, and the importance of selecting both the right moments to focus on and the right pieces of evidence to tell the story. Evaluating and choosing historical evidence to use in coursework is a key part of the History A Level, so hearing about Catriona’s approach to the same issues they faced in their school work was particularly valuable to the students.
Catriona was also interested to hear the girls’ views on how ‘Enter the Peace Broker’ and similar dramatization might be used in schools. She discussed with the Sixth Form girls how the docudrama could be adapted for use in the classroom and what features they would find useful in a companion app, such as interactive timelines or further reading.
The talk and subsequent conversation gave the Sixth Form girls an insight into how history is currently being used on digital platforms. Hearing about Catriona and Caitlin’s careers also revealed the wide variety of career opportunities available to those who study or have an interest in history. Catriona talked to the girls about studying Classics and Modern Languages and becoming a lawyer before returning to her interest in history, and especially how the past can help people to understand the present; she now uses her communication skills on a broader canvas to share history with a wider audience. Caitlin’s summary of her work since graduating from her History degree, including working with the Council of Europe and how her subject-specific skills helped her to engage with that role, was also particularly eye-opening and interesting.
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