At our workshop Developing Online Research Training and Course Delivery it was generally agreed that many historians were hesitant to use blogs and wikis although different age groups vary in this. The age cohort is worth bearing in mind when setting up a course – often a younger age group will be able to cope and understand new technologies better than older groups (although this is not always the case and must be approached cautiously). Whilst Google has transformed searching on the internet it is a paradigm for online teaching. People tend to think that they already know how to search when they actually don’t. Plus library catalogues are beginning to lose functionality to appear more available to the ‘Google-generation’.
The issue of ‘googleification’ in library catalogues has been discussed somewhat in-house. Established librarians and historians don’t generally like it (that at least seems to be the consensus). I find myself in agreement here. The loss of functionality seems to be a backward step especially if it is just to pander to those who want something familiar and are unwilling to learn. That said, there is a fine line here between unwillingness to learn and the necessity to learn. I recall a discussion held in another workshop that I attended at the IHR recently on digital editing projects. It is very easy for those of us who work in the realm of e-learning and digitalisation to just assume that everyone knows what we are talking about. We sometimes forget that we only learnt these things because it was part of our job to do so. It took time. The question, then, is how do we create training resources that students can understand and relate to whilst at the same time feed into that process some of the more complex digital knowledge that they may one day require? No easy task!