Tape to Tablet: the Creation of a WWI app

Tape to Tablet: the Creation of a WWI app -

David Hodgson (right) with author, Carl Smith

In the 1980s David Hodgson (History,1989,Furness) aged just 18, recorded interviews with his grandfather Walter, a WWI veteran.

Inspired by his studies in History at Lancaster, David continued the project; often his questions were shaped by the knowledge he gained from his Lancaster lecturers. By the time he graduated, David had created an impressive audio memoir of Walter's life.

Walter Hodgson spent his childhood in Preston where he worked in Calvert's Mill; the introduction of conscription meant he was sent to the front line in 1917. Surviving the war, Walter went on to live a full life. In his eighties Walter was a regular visitor to Lancaster and is said to have been a popular figure amongst the students of Dalton block. David kept the recordings and collated Walter's records and paraphernalia, which he inherited after Walter's death in 1988. However, as technology developed the tapes became obsolete and the possibility of sharing Walter's experiences seemed to disappear. That changed last year when David brought his recordings to Pearson Publishing. Fascinated by the project, Pearson Publishing's editors saw the potential to rejuvenate the recordings by adapting them for digital publication. Working with teacher and author Carl Smith, they created an educational app crafted entirely around Walter's recollections. The app puts Walter's story into historical context: featuring read-along audio, animated video resources and digitised documents, it gives students a full picture of WWI. 

Now, 100 years after the war and 25 years after the interviews were recorded, students are able to hear Walter's moving story through their smartphones, tablets, and computers. It 'has been a hard life', wrote Walter, 'but if the present generation get some benefit from what we did, and endured, then I am happy to feel it was not in vain.'