I came across a very interesting study today about the use of digital timelines in the classroom. The report, “The Impact of Using Digital Timelines in the Social Studies Classroom,” was published in the Social Studies Research and Practice Journal. The study itself was focused on two U.S. History Grade 10 classes in a southwestern school in the U.S., with about 60 students total. Given the large number of educators and students who use xtimeline in their classrooms, we’ve already known anecdotally that digital timelines are a fun way to study history, map out a book, or learn about various people. I’m not in high school, and I still always learn a lot going through the timelines we have on xtimeline. That’s why the findings of this study didn’t surprise me:
“Most of the students participating in this digital timeline activity were more engaged and enjoyed studying history (Saye & Brush, 2002; Tally & Goldenberg, 2005; Van Scoter, 2004) more than during previous history units. Although it was not our intent to examine differences of students at the different class levels (advanced and non-advanced), results revealed that this project especially motivated the students in the non-advanced class and apparently provided confidence to them in terms of learning historical content as evidenced by student attempts to respond to essay questions on later tests.”
This also brings to mind an article in New York Times today about a librarian who’s integrating the latest web technology into her work with students. Amongst other things, she’s teaching them how to make Powerpoint presentations and online videos. Just goes to show that students today live and breathe technology, and in order to engage them, we have to keep up with the times and use tools that they find interesting and relevant.