I've written quite a bit about using digital tools to enhance student reports, projects and publications. While an exciting visual element is always important, I especially like it when digital tools help a student tell the story more effectively.
Knightlab is Northwestern University's community of designers, students, and teachers who collaborate finding new, dynamic ways to tell stories. Though meant for journalists, Knightlab's tools are exceptionally useful in the classroom.
The Juxtapose tool creates compare and contrast images with a slider feature. Soundcite embeds audio into text. Storymap creates a power visual story and my favorite, Timeline creates impressive looking interactive time lines.
|Juxtapose, Soundcite, StoryMap and Timeline comprise Knightlab's main tools|
Here's an example of StoryMap, my favorite of these four tools. Students can use Storymap to create their own story or to show understanding of a book they've read or historical era they've studied. Here's a sample storyMap made about Game of Thrones. It's stunning.
Soundcite is another nice tool. Imagine teaching a music class and being able to do this:
" The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army is a relatively new song but this riff is so memorable and immediate that it became an instant classic. It is hard to find anybody who hasn’t heard this famous melody, who has been translated into so many things, from dance floor anthem to football stadium chants."
However, as nice as the feature is, it seems much easier to just link to the audio. So I'm not convinced there is a significant value-add, at least not comparable to the other three tools. That said, I still like it.
Timeline is becoming a standard tool in the news industry. You can use the exact same tool in your classroom that prominent news outlets use in their electronic publications. Below is an example from Time Magazine about the life of Nelson Mandela. Any history teacher should see immediate use for this tool. I also like that it leverages Google Spreadsheets to make the timelines. This means that Timeline is a collaborative tool. An entire class can build one timeline using a shared spreadsheet. Here's a look.
The final tool, Juxtapose, has a wow factor. I have a colleague who teaches an architecture history class. This would be a useful tool for him. Here's a decent one I made of Philadelphia's Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. It would be better if I found images that were taken from the exact same spot.
I am very excited to try these tools, particularly TimeLine and StoryMap with my students.