Digital History, Class Assignment #1

Students in my History 250: Digital History have begun to work on their first larger assignment that is due in a few weeks. I have asked them to create an autobiographical account of some aspect of their life, primarily using Timeline JS. Students will be expected to embed the timeline on their personal Google Site, as well as embed different types of media into the timeline, such as a Google Map.

In addition, the assignment’s second goal is to help students to think through how a digital narrative might differ from a more traditional written text-only narrative.

I have included a description of the assignment below. It certainly can be improved, but I am hopeful that this proves a useful, introductory type assignment in the class — allowing students to build off of the basic digital skills we have been practicing while thinking a little bit about how we tell a historical (defined here through chronological and contextual lenses) story.

Assignment Text:

History 250: Timeline JS Assignment

Introduction: For your first major assignment for this class, you are being asked to create a timeline of your life using Timeline JS. The assignment will ask you to wed some of the technical skills we have been practicing with some of the questions we have been asking about how one can tell a historical story.

Goal: To create at least a 40-slide timeline using Timeline JS, including both text and some type of graphic on each slide (including photos, video, a Google Map, and others of your choosing), that tells a historical story about some key aspect of your life. The timeline should be embedded onto your website.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. To demonstrate proficiency in creating basic online materials (Google Sheets, Google Maps, Timeline JS, and others) and in linking these materials together through HTML embed codes
  2. To tell a historical story of your life that demonstrates a basic understanding of what historical chronology or contextualization might be.

Explanation: You will be developing a timeline using the Beta 3.0 version of Timeline JS, just as we practiced using in class. The timeline should choose some important theme in your in life (since you certainly will not be able to narrate your entire life in 40 slides) that will allow you to demonstrate an understanding of both chronological thinking and contextualization. This means that it will probably be inappropriate to choose just a single event from your life, as it will be difficult to establish the way chronology is important to the story. However, it will be equally difficult to tell the whole story of your life, as you will also have no time to develop slides that highlight the significant context that gives an event its meaning.

You will be graded on both the technical and the historical aspects of this assignment.

  1. You are required to produce at least 40 slides to narrate your story.
  2. As we saw, Timeline JS links text together with images, videos, audio files, and other types of media. This allows you much more flexibility in thinking about how to narrate a story then just with text.
  3. As we saw, media that is to be included in Timeline needs a stable URL to link to. The easiest solution for images you plan to use (that are already not on the web) is to create a small photo archive in Flickr.
  4. You will need to include at least one clip from Youtube, one Map from Google maps related to the story, and images you own or can link to related to your life. You are also free to use sites such as Wikipedia to link a reader to in the material. Use the web to help you tell your story.
  5. The timeline should ultimately appear on the Google Sites we are experimenting with as your homepage. Please have the timeline embedded onto the page by Tuesday, September 29 at the start of class.

 

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