YouTube at A level – the Case of Perkin Warbeck
This idea comes from David Waters who teaches in Hertfordshire and particularly from Nick Russell, one of David’s AS History students.
Unfortunately, the video has now been removed from YouTube - but this activity remains in the website as it may give you ideas. (I'll also be reviewing the use of multimedia in the near(ish) future - it's another task on the 'to-do' list!!)
David had set what he describes as:
‘Pretty standard student presentations on Henry VII and government really. Usual drill: they are given a section, nobility, finance etc they need to produce a handout and a presentation focusing on: what Henry did, whether it changed during his reign and whether it contributed to stability or not. Nick was given the topic of Pretenders. Most students do powerpoint presentations, some do plays. Nick decided to produce this amazing video.’
At the risk of spoiling it for you, Nick’s film portrays the career of Perkin Warbeck against the simple device of an outline map on a whiteboard. With the aid of some splendid character-acting and a marker pen we follow Warbeck round Europe – and what comes across very clearly within the four minute film is:
- the sequence of events
- how often and how far Warbeck travelled
- some sense of the frustrations, of how promised help never grew into anything substantial.
Having watched Nick’s film several possibilities occur that may be worth thinking about with your own A level classes:
Using the film to develop understanding of Henry and Warbeck
1. When would you show this to your students – before or after they have studied Warbeck? It might well make a useful introduction with students jotting down what they are learning about the ‘big picture’ of Warbeck’s career rather than the detailed country by country story? Then ask ‘what questions do you ant to ask about Warbeck?’ – setting up students’ research into his career.
2. Link the film to a task asking students to create a ‘Living graph’, focussing on Warbeck’s experiences from the viewpoint of either Warbeck or Henry– the vertical axis could be one of
a) Warbeck optimistic; Warbeck despairing
b) Henry really anxious; Henry triumphant
Alternatively set both tasks, for half the class each.
Using the technique with your own students
Show the film to your own students and challenge them to do better, either on this topic or another. Most importantly get them to analyse what works well here:
- the map providing a concrete centrepiece to the story telling
- the sense of story, of one central character moving around Europe and the development of frustration
- the choice of music
Having watched the film I sent Nick some questions via David and here are his answers:
Q. What did you feel you’d learned from this – did the putting together of the film deepen your understanding of:
1. the sequence of events?
The chronology of Warbeck’s adventures was fully reinforced in my mind through the use of the map in particular
2. Attitudes to PW among rulers?
The idea of certain monarchs finding in Warbeck an ally to use against Henry VII was greatly enhanced through the production of this video.
3. Why PW failed?
Through this very visual approach, I found it far easier to see the abundance of reasons for Warbeck’s failure to present a realistic challenge to Henry’s reign.
Q. What about others taking part? Did they feel it helped them?
Unfortunately - none of them actually take History A-level! Though they all felt they’d learnt a lot for a lunchtime.
Q. How much time did it take? Too much or easy to build in amongst other work??
The filming only took an hour during lunch, and was relatively easy in most respects. The editing of the final material took a similar amount of time and so the entire process, including research, took no longer than it would have taken to put together a run of the mill powerpoint presentation.
Q. What advice would you give to students in other schools doing something like this?
To ensure they have done the relevant research in advance to getting the camera out – otherwise the plot becomes a bit patchy. I also recommend they have a vague understanding of how to use an editing software package before embarking on the project, to prevent everything falling apart in the latter stages of completion