Author(s): Liisa Ilomäki (1) & Jarkko Liedes (2)
Affiliation(s): University of Helsinki (1), Helsinki Media Arts Upper Secondary School (1)
Date of publication: October 5, 2015
The Educational Problem
For students, it is difficult in integrate the topic of human rights taught in history to other subjects in which human rights are also studied. In addition, students should learn collaborative practices while learning history.
This history case was part of a larger project of human rights in an upper secondary school. Several courses (representing various subjects) were integrated: History (this case), Social studies, English language, Geography, Religion (ethics), Media studies, and Philosophy. These courses were conducted at the same phase in April-May before the summer break, lasting seven weeks. During each course, the teaching of the topic and integration with other subjects was organised so that it matched with the aims of the course. At the beginning of the courses, almost all students followed an introductory lesson about human rights, which was given by an external expert from the United Nations association of Finland.
For the history project, the teacher had organised assignments for group works before the course started; the aim was to seek for answers to the question about how the human rights have come true during the various phases in history. Students used, altogether, three lessons (75 minutes each) for doing the group work. Groups used Google Sites as an environment into which they produced their work; each group had a virtual page for their use. The teacher had formed groups of 3 to 4 students. During the lessons, the teacher guided the groups both with the content and with the process of the group work (e.g. “someone takes the first initiative about how to start the work”).
Google Sites worked well as a collaborative tool, and the groups, in general, managed to complete their assignments. Students learned the idea of human rights better than during previous courses which were conducted without this kind of group work. However, the assignments were probably too large for the time given. The integration of subjects with other courses did not succeed well enough because all groups got their assignments ready only at the end of the course and there was not any more time for reflecting on and combining the results with the results of the other courses.