Their timeline app is just the sort of thing I was hoping to find, to supplement my Medieval Times unit, since this a topic addressed in the Grade 4 Social Studies curriculum in Ontario.
I was looking for something highly visual, interactive, and not too Eurocentric that would engage my “students” while addressing at least some of the specific expectations in that curriculum unit.
“Wonders of Old; A Timeline Book of World History” is a joint venture between Knowledge Quest Inc. and iHome Educators Inc.
From 432 AD to the 1500s
Beginning in the 5th century with St Patrick’s introduction of Christianity to Ireland, this app spans 12 centuries, ending with the 1592 Japanese invasion of Korea. A spiral timeline visually suggests big picture continuity, and invites the user to click on a specific century. Medieval music plays gently in the background for a while, unless the ”pause music” button is pressed (I chose to enjoy my exploration while listening to the music).
Layers of Details
Upon touching a century, the user enters a sub-level of the timeline, an expanded version of events, which displays horizontally across the top of the screen. This “sub-timeline” includes an overview of significant events of that era by date, with clickable titles and -- in some cases -- a picture or two.
When the user touches one of the events, a screen pops up with fairly large text, describing the event in some more detail, and including a photo, map or other relevant graphic. I would say that the text itself is a bit wordy for the average 9-year-old, but it does provide some background knowledge for the teacher (or parent) who may not be familiar with every event.
Inclusive? Sort of...
I was pleased to see that world events from Asia were included in the timeline, though the inclusion of African history was fairly limited, and Aboriginal North and South American events seemed to be completely absent. Especially beginning with the 12th century, the timeline is fairly Eurocentric, focusing mainly on Christian history (although, in fairness, it does include significant events that do not always paint Christians in a positive light, for example, the 1189 Jewish massacre in York, England).
It’s hard, of course, to include everything in one app, and compared to other products I have seen, the makers of this timeline did a fairly decent job of being inclusive, I think.
An interesting project for those using this app in a classroom or home schooling situation might be to have students create a parallel timeline from the Muslim perspective, or record an oral narrative from the point of view of a First Nations person, telling the story of “what was happening with our people during that time”. At the very least, I would invite my own students to consider “what stories are included, and whose are missing?”
A Few Auditory and Practical Enhancements Would Make This Timeline Even Better
Including the option to hear relevant music (including period Arabic and Asian music) when clicking on specific events would enhance this app considerably.
A “search” feature would be a practical asset, so that users could find the historical context of a specific event.
Overall, A Visually Appealing and Useful App
“Wonders of Old; A Timeline Book of World History” provides an uncluttered, visually attractive screen that can easily act as a springboard for conversations about some of the things that were happening in different parts of the world during the Middle Ages. Users can use this app as a general overview of historical events, or click to quickly access more detail about specific events.
Although it is not as comprehensive and inclusive a timeline as I had hoped for, I would definitely use it starting point with my own kids when home-schooling next year.