AHA 2014: using digital tools in medieval Mediterranean history classrooms

This accompanies a conference talk given at the AHA 2014 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

Many of the resources listed here will move, or be taken down, as time passes. The most effective way to find online resources for undergraduate medieval classrooms is to do a Web search. A suggested starting search term is provided for each section below, unless otherwise noted.

In addition to the resources available below, the PPT from the session will be online by Jan 15. For those who were at the session, I’ve also posted a brief article that demonstrates other applied uses of of activity theory.

Spatial history and GIS tools

Search for “medieval history GIS”



Timeline tools

Search for “timeline tool”

Empty timeline tools

  • CHNM Timeline Tool. University-sponsored; free; not very pretty, but events are properly scaled in time and entry system is extremely functional and easy to use
  • Timeline JS. University-sponsored; free; pretty, but cannot handle large numbers of events
  • XTimeline. Free; pretty, and events are properly scaled in time; entry is functional and easy to use; HOWEVER, stability is a question
  • Dipity. Free; pretty, but does not display events well when timescale is longer than 25 years
  • Tiki-Toki. Free account limited to single timeline
  • Time Glider. Free account for undergraduates only
  • Capzles. Timeline is not to scale; oriented toward embedding videos and other multimedia
  • Read.Write.Think timeline tool. Entries order by input order, not by date order

Prefilled timelines

A Web search for “medieval timeline” brings mostly timelines that are oriented toward high-school or grade-school students. It’s therefore more useful to create timelines rather than depending on prefilled timelines. One exception is below.

Blog and exhibit-curation tools

Search for “free blog site” or “online exhibit tool”

Content management tools

These tools provide hosting options for online student blogs and exhibits in various forms

  • OMEKA. Specifically designed for historians. Includes metadata handlers and a suite of curation tools
  • Wordpress. Free, open-source blogging platform, with additional option to install full WordPress site on a personal Web site
  • Blogger. Google’s free blogging platform
  • Tumblr. A blogging platform oriented toward photos and multimedia, with a heavy social-media-network component
  • Medium. Like Tumblr, focused on the social-network component of blogging, but with more of an emphasis on writing and on crowd-sourced reading recommendations.
  • Pinterest. A social-media platform entirely focused on images with limited text

Blogs and exhibitions in history classrooms

Articles on blogs and exhibitions in History Classrooms

Medieval exhibits online

As with the pre-filled timeline tool, a Web search brings up sites geared for younger audiences. However, many museums have higher-quality curated medieval exhibits online. The latter type of exhibit is useful both as a resource for primary and secondary sources and as a guide for students who are curating their own exhibits as part of a classroom activity or course assignment.