Friday, August 17, 2007

Don't Know Much About History ...

Unfortunately, that statement could be used to describe many of our students - particularly technology students. Although I teach technology, I love history, especially the history of technology and I am always looking for ways to teach history to my students. I think history enriches a student's understanding and helps to contextualize the content. While the benefits of teaching history are clear, it's a challenge to do so - mainly because our technology programs and courses are already so jammed with content there is very little room for anything new or different.

I've been successful at using audio and video to supplement what I do in the classroom, but I am always looking for new ways to bring history into the classroom. There's an interesting new tool called Xtimeline that could help. Xtimeline allows you and your students to create, share and explore interactive timelines. I think you'll enjoy exploring the timelines - here are a few examples - just click on the images below to open the interactive timeline.

The first is a history of the internet, from 1958 (Who was President kids?) to the present. There a number of events - at least according to me - missing. But what a great opportunity to have your students fill in the holes and fact check the timeline.
The second example is a history of video games. Looks pretty thorough, but admittedly not my area of expertise.
Finally, the last example is actually from Karl Kapp's blog - Karl, a professor of instructional technology and an expert in gaming, might be able to help us evaluate the completeness and accuracy of the Gaming timeline . There a couple different ways to create your own timelines. The first is to create an excel spreadsheet (or even better Goggle Docs spreadsheet) and upload to the Xtimeline site. The template - shown below - is pretty straight forward. Students could spend the whole semester gather new events - as they learn/discover them - and populate the spreadsheet. Imagine students working on this individually, in groups, as an entire class or even working collaboratively with other students/classes anywhere in the world - a sort of "The World is Flat" project! Another way to create a timeline is to use an RSS feed. That's how I made the Karl Kapp timeline.


Karl Kapp said...

Hey Mike,
This is pretty cool, thanks for tracking the history of my site. I can see some interesting uses from an anthropology stand point.

Neat Stuff.


Anonymous said...

Interesting ideas. I'm planning on using xtimeline for a course I'm helping develop right now. I had no idea about creating a timeline from RSS, which is cool even if I don't know how I'd use it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mike,

Thanks for your support of xtimeline! We're really excited about the educational uses for xtimeline as well.

I want to also let you know that in the next week or so, we'll be rolling out a Groups feature. This is especially suitable for class projects that will include co-creation of one or more timelines and discussions among the group.

Let us know if you or your students have ideas on how we can make the site even better. We'd love to hear your feedback!

Founder, xtimeline
(lauren at xtimeline dot com)


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