Friday, January 29, 2010

Another one for the history teachers and history geeks

The British Library has produced another interesting resource. This time it's an interactive timeline. It starts with the signing of the Magna Carta in the 1210s. I'm not sure why they haven't gone further back than that.

You have the option to select what sort of events you're interested in learning about. So, for example, you can look at the core, or central timeline. Or you can explore politics, power and rebellion; art and literature; sacred texts; everyday life or medicine, science and technology. The container for the timeline options is not full, so one assumes they plan to add more at some point.

Once you have selected your timeline, you can scroll left and right through the events listed, and select one of your choosing. In the medicine, science and technology timeline, for example, I chose an event dated c. 1300 called 'examining urine'. There is a brief blurb and an image. The blurb ends with the library's shelfmark, while the there is an option on the image to zoom in. There is also a link to a page about medieval times on the library's website.

One option I found very interesting was being able to draw comparisons between key events in two of the timelines. For example, I chose literature, art and entertainment, and compared it with medicine, science and technology. This is a great way to see how developments in one field influenced another. At the moment, I am playing with medicine, science and technology vs everyday life. Very interesting.

Best of all, you can create your own timeline. Unlike the historical objects database I posted about a few days ago, you can't add your own items to the list. But you can 'favourite' objects from any of the timelines to create a customised one of your own.

One small point worth mentioning, there are a few options to manage the display - 2D and 3D, a choice of four backgrounds, and the option to view full screen.

There is such a wealth of exciting material out there at the moment, that I can't decide whether it would make being a teacher more interesting or more frustrating. More interesting because it provides a wealth of support materials to bring into the classroom, or more frustrating because the national curriculum restricts the extent to which one can explore such resources with students.

I certainly intend to introduce my sons to the timeline, particularly the younger one who, as I have mentioned before, is about to start studying history with the disadvantage of no prior exposure to the subject (other than endless museum trips with his geeky parents, that is!).

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