Currently I am doing an online course prepared by Monash University and placed online by FutureLearn. It is a five week course and through the One Hundred Stories project we look at aspects of the war through the stories of 100 participants. The stories are portrayed as silent presentations - a series of slide-shows of white text on black background - to tell each story. Fifty of the stories are currently online and another 50 will be added. A book containing more detailed versions of each story will be published later in the year.
Each week we look and discuss stories relating to a theme. Week one - Monuments and Mourning included how families grieved back home, particularly when a body was never recovered. Week two - Women and the War included those who performed unpaid work at home as well as the nurses who served overseas. Week three - The Other Anzac, looked at non-British soldiers who served with the Australian services, particularly indigenous soldiers. Week four - War Wounds, both physical and psychological. Week five - The Old Lie, the politics of war and how war divided society such as conscription debates, how the men were (or were not) helped to settle back into Australian life including soldier settlement schemes. As well as looking at individual stories there are videos where related topics are discussed and each week aspects of the theme may also be portrayed via a poem or piece of fiction, drama, art or music. A feature of the course is the forum where participants are encouraged to share their views. Often additional links or titles of appropriate books are provided via the forum.
So far this has been an interesting and often moving course. Looking closely at the experiences of individuals during the war, and in many cases the back story, brings home a greater understanding of how the war affected individuals, families and Australia.
Note: In November 2015 the book containing the full versions of the One Hundred Stories was published - World War I a history in 100 stories.