Last year, I asked my students to come up with new and interesting ways of presenting content. Not only was I fulfilling the state standards for teaching but also engaging students in new and interesting Web 2.0 tools. Killing two birds with one stone. As my students and I researched interesting and engaging ways to present a timeline, I came across Dipity, an interactive timeline creator. Now I am killing three birds with one stone.
Dipity came out of a private beta to a full launch a few years ago (2008). Dipity is a site that makes it simple for students to create and share interactive timelines about any subject or topic. It allows students to embed You Tube videos, Twitter, RSS feeds, Blogger, Flickr, Picasa, Facebook and more right into their timelines. Dipity makes timelines relevant and fun for students and best of all, students are creating timelines in “their language” of Digital Native. The original thought behind Dipity, a timeline-based lifestreaming aggregator, is that users could manage a variety of new social features and have in turn, turned Dipity into a viable alternative to FriendFeed and other lifestreaming services, as well as a replacement for standard RSS readers.
Dipity revolves around powerful interactive timelines which intuitively display content like blog posts, YouTube videos, and Flickr photos in small hovering rectangles that can be expanded. The site is very well designed, and while the timelines seem to lag occasionally when they refresh, they’re fun to play around with (and if you don’t like the timelines, there are a few alternative views like a Flipbook, List View, and a Map viewing feature for pictures or posts with Geotagging enabled).
The service itself should be familiar to anyone who has used FriendFeed, SocialThing!, or any number of similar sites. Users are asked to input their account credentials from services that include Flickr, Picassa, and Twitter, which are used to populate the timeline. Beyond these, Dipity allows users to automatically monitor keywords across services like Digg and YouTube (you can have new Obama videos automatically appear in your timeline), and RSS feeds. This is a great social feeds management tool but even further it can be used to create timelines across the curriculum, not just for social networking.
Dipity is the perfect tool for creating a timeline for any subject in your classroom. Students can bring history to life by embedding relevant You Tube video into their timelines. Timelines can be created by students individually or as a class and posted on a class website as a study resource. I started with a timeline of the days leading up to the fall of the Alamo (very relevant and timely content for my students right now).
Students can click on any of the above events to read the description, make a comment, share the event or explore the links associated with the event. Below, you can see where I have added an image, a link to a website, and a video on YouTube.
Personally, I am ecstatic about the integration of this incredible Web 2.0 tool into classrooms everywhere. Timelines on Dipity are dynamic in that they can be used for a plethora of ventures and are always changing. Even if I don’t include a feed from a blog or social networking feed, the timeline is still interactive in that users can leave comments on every single event and react to other comments made on the events. I hope that you will consider taking advantage of this fabulous Web 2.0 tool in your classroom. You could start with something as easy as having students document their day on Dipity. Come on! Just Dipity DO it!
UPDATE: Great blog post on Custom Timeline Creators! Check it out here!