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Featured Collection

D-Lib Magazine
April 2003

Volume 9 Number 4

ISSN 1082-9873

The Learning Curve

Votes For Women

Votes for Women. Courtesy of The National Archives, London (COPY 1/494). Used with permission.

The Learning Curve is a new way to study history in the classroom or at home in a way that is stimulating, challenging, flexible — and above all, fun. From the Domesday Book to Wilfred Owen's service record; from Suffragette pamphlets to Guy Fawkes' confession, the Learning Curve takes the vast expanse of material held at the United Kingdom National Archive and turns it into an adventure through history.

Although textbooks often include source material, it tends to be abridged, simplified or translated into modern day English. The Learning Curve presents the original document, with a wealth of supporting information, so users can develop their detective skills, and experience the delights — not to mention the frustrations — of being a professional historian.

By harnessing the potential of new technology, the Learning Curve gives you inspiring glimpses into people's lives and world events. At the same time, the enquiry-led approach ensures that their journey will be a structured one.

As described on the Learning Curve home page, "There are three different types of resource. Each has a distinct approach to suit different styles of learning: In-depth topic investigations (Exhibitions); Interactive investigations (Focus on); and Lesson-sized activities (Snapshots)."

Medieval cartoon

A Medieval Cartoon circa 1233. Courtesy of the Natural Archives, London, (E 401/1565). Used with permission.

At this time, there are eight Learning Curve exhibitions covering history topics such as "Britain 1906-18", "Cold War", "Victorian Britain: Fair or Foul", and others. Arranged as online galleries, each exhibition is designed to provide in-depth information using primary materials addressing an overall question.

Political cartoon about the census

Political cartoon from a London newspaper regarding the census. Courtesy of The National Archives, London (ZPER 34/8), Illustrated London News. Used with permission.




"Focus On" emphasizes interactive resources "designed to develop the skills that pupils need to examine a variety of historical sources." For example, a current "Focus On" session helps students learn how to read documents in the way a historian would in order to discover their full meaning. Included are quizzes, puzzles and other types of participatory activities.

For lesson-sized Learning Curve educational features and activities, the section entitled "Snapshots" is organized to list each lesson by topic and grade level. "Snapshots" for all lessons can be displayed, or by clicking on the appropriate grade level (or key stage), the list can be re-ordered to show only the resources for the desired key stage.

The Learning Curve was used in November 1998 by the Prime Minister to launch the National Grid for Learning (NGfL) and has been growing ever since. New content is continually being added to the site so please come back and visit.

The Learning Curve web site is located at <>.

Thomas O'Leary
Head of Education and Interpretation
Public Record Office, The National Archives

(On April 17, 2003 a typgraphical error was corrected and the caption
for the political cartoon was corrected to show the item number as ZPER 34/8.)

Copyright© 2003 Corporation for National Research Initiatives

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DOI: 10.1045/april2003-featured.collection