Saturday 17 November 2018
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Luxembourg - 10 days ago

Launch of “Ranke.2” – a teaching platform on digital sources criticism

The digital environment and new technologies have changed the way sources – whether they serve teaching, learning or research purposes – are created, processed and absorbed. This has consequences for how we can apply source criticism, for the evaluation of the validity, relevance and weight of the sources. Students, despite being digital natives (or perhaps because so), as well as lecturers and researchers need to acquire new skills. A starting point is to understand the technical and mathematical basics of digital phenomena. They must be encouraged to reflect constantly on what the origin is of what they view on their screen. Dr. Stefania Scagliola, lead researcher for this project, explains: “A digital text, image or recording may appear to be similar to its analogue version, but it is actually a collection of digits arranged in a particular order that offers a representation of the original, without its material characteristics. Both the informational as the artefactual properties of the analogue source have changed.” This led the C²DH (Centre for Contemporary and Digital History) to start working on an open source teaching platform in 2014. The result, ranke2.uni.lu, is a colorful and playful toolbox, which offers lessons on digital source criticism with different levels of complexity and time required. Depending on which module a lecturer selects - “Small”, “Medium” or “Large” - , the time effort varies from 15 minutes up to 90 minutes or an entire day. Lessons include an animation, a quiz and a number of assignments that can be completed in an answer template. In the future, “Large” modules will allow the digital-savvy lecturers to embark on a project with students. The platform is entirely open access in English, French or German. “We are very much aware about how the skill of being critical about web content is a crucial asset for teaching in secondary schools,” Dr. Scagliola continues. “We are open to initiatives to use our platform for other audiences then students in their bachelor year.” The name Ranke.2 is a wink to Leopold von Ranke, the German 19th century historian who is generally presented as the father of source criticism.

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