Home Higher Education Annotated Timelines and the Biography of an Concept

Annotated Timelines and the Biography of an Concept

Annotated Timelines and the Biography of an Concept


Biography of an thought

The US is an individualistic society, one which teaches that you just alone can do something if you happen to work arduous sufficient. But, collectivist societies would disagree, believing as a substitute you can’t accomplish something by your self. These are two ends of a spectrum with various levels of understanding about human company and a spread of cultural beliefs about innovation in between.

What occurs if you happen to take a collectivist thought and implement it in an individualistic society?

Edward Clapp advocates that we have to shift the give attention to creativity from people to concepts. “For many years, creativity researchers have employed the biographical methodology because the means to inform the story of people who are sometimes heralded as genius for his or her feats of greatness” (Clapp, 2016, p. 91). By not specializing in the person, however relatively the evolution of concepts, it’s attainable to shift from the notion of particular person inventive genius to a reframing of creativity that resides with the collective as a distributive and participatory course of.

But, this challenges the individualistic notion that somebody must be acknowledged and celebrated for his or her achievements and accomplishments. “From a conventional perspective, the locus of creativity is believed to lie inside the particular person. From a extra systems-based perspective, the identical ideas grow to be socially rearranged and actually redistributed: people enact their company all through the inventive thought improvement course of, however nobody particular person or group has possession over anybody inventive thought” (Clapp, 2016, p. 92).

With this reframing and give attention to the biography of concepts relatively than the biography of people, it turns into attainable to reimagine the terrain of innovation. “Reframing creativity because the biography of an thought combines social science approaches to the case research and biographical strategies with narrative storytelling to element how inventive concepts emerge, with an emphasis positioned on the social elements and chain of occasions that results in invention and innovation” (Clapp, 2016, p. 93). Pedagogy that encourages the adoption of the biography of an thought is student-centered; contextual; participatory; interdisciplinary; inclusive, dialectical, and visible.

What would possibly the biography of an thought appear like within the classroom?

A technique school throughout disciplines can deploy this reframing of creativity and innovation is thru the technology of annotated timelines. Timelines discover  context at micro and macro ranges, assist assemble detailed arguments, and undertake dialectical views, illuminating concepts that each foster and problem creativity alongside the way in which. Timelines may cowl the span of an occasion, the conceptualization of an thought, or the event of a whole discipline of research.

Annotated timelines

Annotated timelines are a good way to consider charting the narrative of a course or exploring the evolution of a subject. College students can add textual content, audio, video, and different sources to a timeline, creating an interactive and multimedia studying expertise. Annotated timelines might help college students throughout disciplines reorganize subjects usually mentioned in isolation right into a complete understanding of how an accumulation of occasions, concepts, or subjects are interconnected in method that results in inventive innovation. 

Designing the construction and necessities for an annotated timeline task can take a myriad of codecs. As a greatest apply, I usually embrace three particular directions for every task that set expectations and supplies clarification for college kids. One, acknowledge the distributive and participatory nature inherent within the biography of an thought and talk the variety of entries every scholar should contribute all through the time period or throughout the venture. Two, guarantee college students embrace a paragraph about why the merchandise or entry is vital, during which college students must argue the way it contributed to the evolution of the concept. Three, let college students know they should embrace a hyperlink to a useful resource to be taught extra in regards to the entry or a graphic that gives extra context for the entry.

A timeline can take a wide range of varieties – textual, interactive, visible, or some mixture of all three. Most significantly, you don’t must be taught new software program for this task, however the software program or platform should foster an area for collaboration. School and college students who’re snug with spreadsheets may use Google Sheets to generate timelines that embrace hyperlinks to supply documentation. Sutori, Timeline JS, and TimeToast are on-line platforms for creating collaborative shows within the classroom and method studying via storytelling, together with options for creating responsive, interactive timelines. Courses centered on making their pondering seen can make the most of a wide range of visualization instruments in Google Drawings, Canva, or different on-line design platforms to create graphic timelines.

A number of pattern annotated timeline assignments observe.

  • College students can discover opposing views on a subject via the event of an annotated timeline. Many tutorial disciplines are fraught with debates, so select a subject that elicits polarized views as evidenced within the literature or media. Assign scholar teams a selected perspective on a subject after which evaluate the timelines created by every group or create a grasp timeline to foster a extra nuanced and dialectical understanding of the concept.
  • College students can analysis one facet of the subject and submit a particular variety of gadgets to the timeline over the course of the semester. If a category is exploring solar energy or refugee training, college students can analysis these subjects from financial, social, cultural, political, or id views. Structuring the task on this method fosters a really interdisciplinary timeline of the biography of an thought.
  • College students can use a timeline to chart a research overseas expertise to share their evolving views on a subject all through their time overseas, utilizing their experiences to innovate inventive options for social injustices or issues encountered which are a part of the material of their house tradition as nicely. Utilizing a timeline to chart experiential studying emphasizes an inclusive and participatory method to the task.
  • Timelines might help college students analyze the methods varied media sources cowl a present occasion or set of occasions from a number of views, illuminating dialectical constructs and offering the area to problem polarized pondering. Because of a nuanced understanding of the subject, college students can acknowledge shifting contexts and facilitate a dialogue or design a workshop to convey people with varied views collectively to be taught from one another.
  • College students can discover digital images by producing a timeline of the technological developments that served as a basis for digital imagery right now, utilizing that info to create new applied sciences or progressive makes use of for present expertise.


Offering college students the area to mirror individually or in teams on the annotated timeline supplies alternatives for vital pondering.

  • Are there parts of the timeline that stunned you?
  • Are there occasions shared that you just don’t essentially see as impacting the subject?
  • What did you be taught from the timeline in regards to the interdisciplinary nature of the subject?
  • Are there reoccurring themes within the timeline?
  • Are there points of the subject excluded when examined because the biography of the concept?
  • What questions does the timeline increase for you?
  • Are there factors on the timeline that mirror each contributions and challenges within the biography of the concept?
  • Are there different interpretations of occasions or factors on the timeline which are vital to think about?

Based on Mark Twain, “There isn’t a such factor as a brand new thought. It’s inconceivable. We merely take quite a lot of previous concepts and put them right into a kind of psychological kaleidoscope. We give them a flip they usually make new and curious combos. We carry on turning and making new combos indefinitely; however they’re the identical previous items of coloured glass which were in use via all of the ages.” A few of us might agree with Mark Twain, whereas others of us might not. Nonetheless, reimagining the concept that ingenuity, creativity, and innovation are remoted occasions born solely out of inventive genius permits for the growth of academic terrains of risk. The interconnected nature of societies, cultures, and establishments supplies the chance for a reframing of creativity, and annotated timelines are a pedagogical method that can be utilized throughout disciplines to discover the biography of concepts.

Terra Gargano is a college within the College of Worldwide Service at American College in Washington, DC. All through her 25-year profession in worldwide greater training, she has managed dozens of institutional collaborations worldwide, performed workshops for school at home and worldwide organizations, and discovered alongside her college students. She was chosen as a School Fellow with the Heart for Educating Analysis and Studying, the place she developed and offered seminars to foster pedagogical creativity and has received quite a few college awards for her innovation in instructing.


Clapp, E. P. (2016). Participatory Creativity: Introducing Entry and Fairness to the Inventive Classroom. United Kingdom: Taylor & Francis.

Clapp, E. (September 11, 2015). Creativity as a Participatory Course of. Ted Discuss. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cc68stI8Y60

Phillips, Ok. W. (October 1, 2014). How Variety Makes Us Smarter. Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-diversity-makes-us-smarter/

Picard, D. & Bruff, D. (2016) Digital Timelines. Vanderbilt College Heart for Educating. https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/digital-timelines/

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