Thursday, March 20, 2008


I read this post on Classroom 2.0 and with permission from the author, I'm reposting here. This application looks like it has a lot of potential, I think I'm going to use it with our Titanic unit.

I'm excited to introduce to Classroom 2.0 our new software for creating rich, interactive (Flash, web-based) timelines. It's called Mnemograph. Briefly, with Mnemograph, one enters events (title, date, description) into a database which are displayed on a timeline "ruler" that can scroll and zoom. You can plan the semester ahead or create a history of ancient Egyptian civilization. Each event can have a description and can be linked to a web page or any other URI --- pdf, etc. Images can also be added to the timeline in a similar way as events, and dragged and dropped to position them.

This represents a real sea-change in "timelining". Other softwares out there (xTimeline, the Simile project at MIT, TimelineMaker) are either very restricted graphically, designed poorly, or are restricted to a local PC. We're planning to build a very powerful collaborative environment in which kids and history professionals alike can collaborate to create expansive, deep timelines. Eventually, a single "event" (say the life of Herman Melville) will be able to drill down into an entire biographical timeline. We're also building importing capability for RSS feeds, Dublin Core data, the Library of Congress's American Memory collection, Flickr, iCalendar (Google calendar, Mac iCal) formats, and so forth. One will be able to have two timelines open at once, and simply drag-and-drop an event from, say the LOC into one's own timeline about the Depression. Not quite there yet...

We're in a very early beta stage, so there's a lot to be worked out: I'm excited to get feedback from educators about how they would imagine using it -- especially on the collaborative level. Here are a few major questions:• How would collaboration best be structured? Are there models out there (, Facebook, xTimeline) you prefer when it comes to inviting others to, or requesting to collaborate?• What are best practices when it comes to creating a system (like this collaborative environment) in which kids are safe/secure?

  • To what degree can you imagine using a timeline for planning curricula, recording classroom events, and so forth?Way down the road (with some capital), we're planning
  • keep a robust version free for personal and educational use
  • create ways to display any time-related data: Line and bar graphs which can run alongside historical events
  • have live collaboration tools
  • link to more live, time-related or on-demand data
  • allow zooming out to the big bang, and zooming in to the minute• host all manner of files -- video, etc.
  • create versions for the medical, financial, legal, and scientific markets

Some links:
our home page
Wright Brothers sample timeline

I'm very pleased to have found this amazing community. Please contact me if you have questions or thoughts -- and especially problems -- and I'll try to be as responsive as I can:
Best, Michael Richardson
Boise, ID

Friday, March 7, 2008

Graphing Datasets

We are starting to look at the Titanic "by the numbers". After reading background information about the crew, students made graphs all of the different jobs the crew held. I had no idea when I made the assignment that there would be hundreds of different job descriptions. We used a Web 1.0 application Create a Graph (been around forever, but recently updated) to create our graphs.

The sixth graders then took a look at the passengers and charted their nationalities. The charts made it clear that most of the first class passengers were from America and most of the third class passesngers were not! You can see all our charts and graphs here.

Here is another site, CIESE, that has outstanding activities using "real" data.