Student-produced timelines for example, allow students to gain a more holistic view of a time period as they see how events in different regions or time periods all relate to each other in “the big picture.” There are great timeline-related resources out there; sites like such as Timelines.tv offer pre-made timelines for students to peruse or download. The site has six timelines of important eras in U.S. and European history; each timeline has text and photos, as well as short videos about people and events in the era.

In terms of producing timelines, TimeLineMaker, created by Teachnology.com is perfect for simple timelines (up to nine events) whereas sites like Capzles, Dipity, TimeGlider, TimeRime, TimeToast and Preceden are worth exploring for more advanced timelines.  

Many of the popular apps and sites that allow students to create multi-media presentations are ideal for history/social studies. Creating online presentations are easy with PowerPoint or Keynote, but Prezi is revolutionizing the on-line presentation with its easy-to-use non-linear format.  

Effective Digital Tools to Design History/Social Studies Classrooms of the Future

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Ahead is similar to Prezi, allowing users to upload high-resolution images, videos, and even files from Adobe products and Microsoft Office directly into their interactive presentation. Other on-line presentation apps of note are  Haiku Deck, Narrable and Idea Flight. Narrated slide shows and screencasts allow students to present material in a multi-media format.

Some of the best apps are SonicPics and Storyrobe. Also worth a look are Educreations which allows students to turn their iPad into a whiteboard to make a presentation and ReplayMe which makes it easy to record writing and voice and convert it into a YouTube video.

Explain Everything is another design tool based on the interactive whiteboard of the iPad; this app makes it easy to animate, narrate and annotate explanations and presentations. Voice Thread is a popular and easy-to-use tool wherein students can lay audio over documents, diagrams or even videos. These are great for group presentations or off-line class discussions as students can each weigh in on the topic in an asynchronous manner.

Glogster EDU is a popular site that allows students to create digital posters with a mixture of text, images, movies, sounds, voice recordings or hyperlinks to other resources, etc. These posters or “glogs” can then be shared via social media or  embedded in a student digital portfolio or classroom blog. Maptia is a fun idea, as it allows students to create slideshows that combine photos and text that can then be pinned on a world map.

Creating e-books is another great way for students to apply their history/social studies knowledge into a learning product. BookCreator, Story Creator and  Book Writer sync well with iPads. Storybird is a worthy option due to their easy-to-use template for kids of all ages.

Kids love making films to show what they have learned, so be sure to check out some of the most popular  movie-making apps/programs such as iMovie, Camtasia, Animoto Video Creator, Book Creator for iPad, eBook Magic. In addition, WeVideo is a new easy-to-use film-creation tool that is getting great reviews as well.

A new video-creation tool getting a lot of positive press lately is SooMeta. This platform allows students to mix videos with still images, text, music, weblinks and more. The presentation resembles a video slideshow and can be done in a simple manner or a more stylized remix form. This site is also a great way for teachers to flip their web content into video lessons. Beyond these tools, there are several non-conventional presentation tools like ScreenChomp wherein students present their ideas by sketching on a doodling board, narrate it, record it and share it.

Shadow Puppet and Skitch are also worth checking out.

Hopefully it is obvious by now just how many innovative digital resources are out there for history/social studies teachers. Recent breakthroughs in communication, computing power and globalization have presented teachers with a unique opportunity to use new forms of learning and new access to knowledge in order to create a truly transformative learning experience.

Hopefully, by utilizing some of the ideas and tools, teachers will be able to create meaningful lessons that not only present history and social studies in an engaging manner, but allows students to deliver their ideas in innovative ways and develop their own global citizenship in the process.

BIO: Adam Carter is en educator that seeks innovative ways of instilling Global Citizenship in students. His non-profit Cause & Affect Foundation has been assisting on children-related projects around the world for years. He created the Academic Social Action Collective to assist schools develop their social action programs and global citizenship efforts.

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Effective Digital Tools to Design History/Social Studies Classrooms of the Future

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