Wednesday, April 20, 2011


I recently had a project and remembered a website mentioned by a colleague, Dipity, that would let you create interactive time-lines with text, video, images, and share over social media, embed or collaborate. I see Dipity as a meshing of mind mapping, history, and Web 2.0. As I explored it more and more I began to consider its value in a course and became intrigued with it. When you initially enter the site you are hit with a time-line that is covering current events. Each day I visit it is different, but what a great tool to use for my upcoming mass media course. I can have students access the website, review the time-line, and analyze (based upon the principles from chapters discussing visual media, modern journalism, and video games and storytelling) how this tool conveys information, depicts its content, informs its viewers, and shapes the understanding of the world in which we live in. That's just one idea. With the way the site is designed there are time-lines covering a variety of topics. The way the site works is that some time-lines are public, some allow for comments, some allow for viewers to contribute, and some you can embed. The restrictions are important because if you ask students to use it you and them need to know the barriers that may and may not exist when producing a time-line. What about its features? Each time I play with it a learn a little more, which for means they've done a nice job of keeping how to use the site fresh and interesting. First off, you can upload images, type in text, and link or embed videos to your time-line. You cannot upload Word, PDF or PPT to your time-line to share, at least as far as I know. You set the date for each item which determines where it appears on the time-line. There is a +/- bar that allows you to zoom in and out, depending on how much or little you zoom in determines how long the time-line is. You can scroll the time-line by using the scroll bar at the bottom or using your mouse to grab and drag the time-line itself. Dipity defaults to a time-line view, but you can also view it as a flipbook or list. It will also map certain items depending on the wording or imagery used. For instance, I wrote a section about Edward Said and mentioned his roots in Palestine as a youth in 1947, so it mapped Palestine in 1947 and had the names of the cities in both English and Arabic, using Google maps. I thought that was a fantastic little idea. You are one click away from sharing your time-line on Twitter or Facebook, and to retrieve the embed code. If you have an account, and a time-line is public, you can choose to follow it so you are aware of any updates or changes made to it. For me this could be extremely useful. You could embed a time-line in your course and ask students to view it daily or weekly and respond to particular questions of how they interact with it, learn from it, use it, etc...I think it is one of those sites that offers rewards to the creative mind that can devise assignments and student activities to capture its use. I know I will promote it as a means to replace PPT as another format to present over a topic on.