The struggle to keep history relevant for young people is an ongoing challenge for historians. The trick, according to one expert, is to embrace the technology that young people want to engage with.
Dan Snow spoke to The Guardian about the future of history and, in short, he put forward the view that mobile apps are better than books. Naturally, at the url=http://historylearning.com/]History Learning Site[/url], we implore history students to use modern, online tools rather than relying solely on books, which can become outdated. Snow is suggesting that things should be taken one step further.
He told the newspaper: “It’s true: an app is the entire text of a book with loads of stuff added into it: all the images, video, and geolocation. So clearly, an app is better than a book for history.”
Whether by app or by website, the underlying point is that the dissemination of information must keep pace with changes in the habits of the younger generations – catalogues of books are now expected to be made available in the palm of students' hands, with easy tools available for them to find the content that is relevant to them.
As a historian, author, TV broadcaster and co-founder of an app-making company, Snow is well placed to comment. That doesn’t mean his history peers approved of his viewpoint though.
Nevertheless, for both the teacher and the student, it is becoming increasingly important to embrace digital channels. Just because it is the academic discipline of studying the past does not mean the discipline itself must remain in the past; making knowledge easier to access, digest and share will only help further interest and understanding of a subject – historians must remain forward-thinking in their acknowledgement of that.