Just spent the last few days at the Midwest Educational Technology Conference in St. Charles, Missouri and, like most tech conferences, there were blogs, wikis, internet cafes, wires and pliers, Web 2.0, etc.

You know what I’m talking about. A lot of general ideas but few specifics about how to actually use some of this stuff in the classroom with kids who would rather be somewhere else.whlogo

But while I was there, I ran across something that I think I could use with kids pretty much anytime and actually have it make an impact. It’s called World History. It’s a site that is new enough that it is still in Invite Beta mode . . . so to use the site, you’ll need to get an invite email from them to create an account. As they slowly add users, they’ll sneak you in.

Trust me. It’s worth the wait. Simply go to World History and give them your email address. I got my invite within two days and have had just a day or so to play around but am already impressed.wh1

Basically, World History is an aggregator of historical data. The engine that drives the data collection is a Google Map and a timeline. Manipulating where you are on the map and sliding the timeline around, forces World History to develop a list of relevant people, events, places, even artifacts that are relevant to that specific place and time. You can also search using just a timeline for people and events.

wh2All searches lead you to a specific page that has even more related information. Sorta like Amazon’s “If you like this book, you might also enjoy this one” feature. All of these tools help create a very cool way of tying events, places and people together with cause and effect.

You can also create your own timelines, add stuff to your own database, search for timelines created by others and even do genealogy stuff.

wh3One of the coolest things that I would use as a history teacher is the Project feature.

A worldhistory.com project is the community created grouping of events, people, and timelines that represent a single idea or sets of ideas in history. We call it a research project because you can use the tools for each project to work together as a community to discuss the topic, assign tasks, and fill in the gaps in order to create a complete idea.

I can see teachers and kids using this part of World History as a very cool portfolio activity, for research or for groups of kids working together.

I like it!

History . . . welcome to the 21st century.