The Royal Historical Society launches its new online Teaching Portal today. Ken Fincham and Peter d’Sena, former and current RHS Vice Presidents for Education, who have led the portal’s working group, explain more:

The Royal Historical Society is well-known as an advocate for research, with its publications of monographs and critical editions of texts, its suite of book prizes, as well as its financial support for early career scholars.  In recent times, the Society has also become a champion of teaching and pedagogy: its Education Policy Committee was established in 2003, to promote history teaching in secondary schools and universities, and in 2018 the Society set up two teaching prizes to be awarded each year.

Now, in November 2020, we are launching the Teaching Portal, which sits in the “Historical Transactions’ blog on our website and is available without a paywall. The impulse behind this was not merely to demonstrate our commitment to teaching, but also to fill the gap left by the demise of discipline-specific support for History by the Higher Education Academy, and to encourage innovative and effective teaching practice at a time when teaching in HEIs has come under critical scrutiny from successive governments. Additionally, the portal will provide support in the face of unexpected challenges, such as adapting to digital learning in a pandemic.

The portal aims to be an important resource for teachers of history and a forum for debate and discussion about the pedagogy of our discipline.  The portal uses six broad categories to guide its users: ‘For Teachers’, ‘For Students’, ‘Innovative Modules’, ‘Transitions through HE’, ‘Careers’ and ‘Online Resources’.  The portal will be dynamic not static, and its scope international as we draw on the experience and insights of historians across the world.

The portal already contains a small number of posts and online resources in each of the six categories, with more to be added in the coming weeks. We are very grateful to the members of the working group, as well as Dr Eilish Gregory, for researching and preparing much of the material. We are looking to its users – not just Fellow and Members, but the wider historical community – to submit posts which break new ground or take a critical perspective to views already posted on the portal. We believe there are many different and rewarding ways to approach the teaching of history, and we invite alternative views on, say, diversifying the curriculum, blended learning or doctoral supervision. The portal will be managed by an editorial board, and very shortly there will be a call for applications to join the board, which we hope will possess a range of expertise – chronological, geographical, technological and philosophical – among its members.  We invite you to inspect the portal, and join the great debate!

Ken Fincham is Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Kent, and was RHS Vice President for Education from 2016-2020. Peter D’Sena is Associate Professor of Learning and Teaching in the Learning and Teaching Innovation Centre (LTIC), University of Hertfordshire, and a Senior Research Fellow, The Institute of Historical Research, University of London. He is currently RHS Vice President for Education, and will co-chair the Teaching Portal Editorial Board.

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