'Google Hangout' with Orlando Figes!

'ActiveHistory Hangouts': A new intitiative to connect university historians with school historians

In June 2014, the world-renowned historian Professor Orlando Figes generously agreed to participate in a live video link-up experiment with IB Historians at the International School of Toulouse to answer questions about the Russian Revolutions of 1917. Over the course of 45 minutes he answered a wide range of questions that the class had formulated in advance following an in-depth study of Russian history c.1894-1917.

This initiative followed an email discussion I had with Professor Figes about the best way of enabling professional historians to share their enthusiasm and expertise with students in schools who are about to apply to university.

We used Google Hangouts to conduct the Q&A session. As a first attempt the experience was enjoyed by all concerned, although there are aspects which we will improve the next time we host a similar event (e.g. ensuring a strong and stable internet connection, and having the camera focused on the whole class rather than individual questioners to create more of a 'seminar' feel).

Are you a teacher interested in conducting your own video seminar with Professor Figes?

Professor Figes plans to offer opportunities to other schools to conduct similar link-ups on issues relating to Russian history in the near future. You can contact Professor Figes to express your interest through his feedback form on his new ‘students resource’ website:

Are you a Historian interested in conducting an 'ActiveHistory Hangout' with prospective university students?

I am very keen to develop a series of these conversations with other historians to enable them to share their expertise and enthusiasm not just with my own students but also (through the video clips that result that can be shared on the web in whichever form you wish) with a wider audience of potential young historians on the verge of university. If you are interested in taking part please contact me on the ActiveHistory website feedback form or on Twitter.

Russel Tarr (@russeltarr and @activehistory on Twitter)

Sample Video Clips

What follows are brief edits from the 45-minute session that took place, providing an impression of how the event unfolded.
These clips will also be available, along with other clips from talks given by Professor Figes, at

At what point did the fall of the Tsarist Regime become inevitable?

Professor Figes' answers to the following questions are also available to
ActiveHistory subscribers

How did you get interested in Russian history in particular?

What is your assessment of Alexander Kerensky's handling of the situation in 1917?

Why did other countries not experience communist revolutions in the aftermath of World War One?

What do you enjoy most about being a professional historian?

With many thanks again to Professor Orlando Figes from myself and the IB Historians at the International School of Toulouse. A fantastic experience, appreciated by all concerned!



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ActiveHistory is the work of full-time history teacher Russel Tarr

1998-2022 Russel Tarr, Limited (Reg. 6111680)

High Park Lodge, Edstaston Wem, Shropshire, England, SY4 5RD. Telephone/Fax: 01939 233909

All rights reserved


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