Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bringing History to Life

Everyone has a story to tell.  Our students need to tell their stories.  Every time I teach a storytelling class, particularly when I play The Apple Tree Game (students tell a short story, others try to guess if it's real or not; As I climbed the apple tree, all the apples fell on me, apple pudding, apple pie, is this story a truth or a lie?--courtesy of storyteller Doug Lipman), I am astounded by the range of experiences these young people have encountered.

Keeping this in mind I tend to be drawn to websites offering some form of digital storytelling.  Ever since I read Kelly Tenkley's post on iLearn Technology October 23, 2012 describing myHistro, I have wanted to try the site.  Creating visual histories using maps and timelines offers countless possibilities in the classroom as well as for personal documentation.

Use of this application is free.  Users can sign in with their Facebook, Geni, Foursquare or Linkedin accounts or register with a first and last name, email address and password.  You must be thirteen years old or above to use this site.

Other features of the site are:
  • can include photographs, videos and narrative
  • unlimited space, unlimited photographs and as many histories as you like
  • easy to create, add and edit
  • drag and drop tool for placing a single event in more than one story
  • three viewing options
  • simple organizational tools
  • import information from other sites
  • six languages represented
  • can embed in website or blog
  • collaboration tools
  • stories can be public or private

Upon logging in the first time you have several options.  You can toggle between the pages labeled Home, Me, Friends and Explore. On the home page you can access your Dashboard (first page), Profile, Events, Stories, Collections, Gallery, Smart-add for creating events from photos and quick add of event.  The me page is a simple list of your events and stories.  Friends is self-explanatory; they may be added from Facebook.  You can search for people or stories, popular tags and popular stories on the explore page.

Your profile page gives you access to your events and stories as well as updating profile information (photograph, as much personal as you want to include) and password change. The events and stories pages are lists of each of those items.  On the collections page are groups of stories with the same tag.  All your created stories are grouped in the gallery page.

Before beginning I scanned through the help section to get a feel for how to use this application.  I decided to create a story revolving around the historical fiction title The Water Seeker by Kimberly Willis Holt.  The story chronicles the life of Amos Kincaid, a dowser's son from 1833 to 1859 complete with a trip on the Oregon Trail.  

To begin I selected the Events page and clicked on the green Create new event button.  A new window pops up as an overlay on the page.  It asks you to name the event, give a specific date (year, month, day)(an end date can also be selected), add a narrative in bold, italics, underline, inserting a link or bulleted list, add a picture and search for a place on the map.  

After the event is created that window is closed taking you back to the original page.  When you mouse over the created events you have the option to edit, view or delete them.  Above your listed events you can search for other events or filter them by various categories.

To create a story go to that page.  When you initially register a story with your name is automatically created.  I changed my title to The Water Seeker adding a short description and image.  At this point you can add collaborators, tags, select a privacy option and comment features.  To add events to your story go to number 2.

You simply drag events from the list on the left to the story space on the right.  At this point generating a new event is also available.  You can search for events, jump to a specific date, or list your events by date or when they were created.  Mousing over individual events allows the user to edit, view or move them to the story.

When the events are added to the story they become darker and clearer on the right while appearing more faded on the left.  Click the green Save story button when you are done.  The next page is the viewing page for your story.

You can zoom in and out, play the story, see a thumbnail map of the entire storyline, view a larger map front and center which highlights single events, edit, delete or add another event to your completed story, post the story on Facebook, export it, view your tags, view a story summary and copy the embed code.  A story summary looks like this image.  When you are playing through the events in your story and wish to make use of hyperlinks, you must click on the read more button to make them active.

Your story can be shared on more than 330 social networks, emailed or printed.  There are two available embed codes; one as shown below and one where the story plays automatically.  Here is the short story I generated at this site.

While this web 2.0 application focuses on history, it could also be used to plan events in the future; similar to Tripline (reviewed here).  To tell you the truth, after I had this post finished, I could hardly get to sleep thinking about all the different stories which could be created using this website (there is an app for your iPhone also).  myHistro will definitely find a place in my virtual toolbox.

Historical events were located from the website HistoryOrb.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds incredibly cool! Excited to try it (while admittedly fearing the time suck.)