Home Higher Education Annotated Timelines and the Biography of an Thought

Annotated Timelines and the Biography of an Thought

Annotated Timelines and the Biography of an Thought


Biography of an concept

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

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

Edward Clapp advocates that we have to shift the deal with creativity from people to concepts. “For many years, creativity researchers have employed the biographical technique 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 reasonably 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 throughout the particular person. From a extra systems-based perspective, the identical ideas change into socially rearranged and actually redistributed: people enact their company all through the inventive concept growth course of, however nobody particular person or group has possession over anybody inventive concept” (Clapp, 2016, p. 92).

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

What may the biography of an concept seem 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 best way. Timelines might cowl the span of an occasion, the conceptualization of an concept, or the event of a complete area of examine.

Annotated timelines

Annotated timelines are an effective 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 can assist 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 means that results in inventive innovation. 

Designing the construction and necessities for an annotated timeline task can take a myriad of codecs. As a finest apply, I typically 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 concept and talk the variety of entries every pupil should contribute all through the time period or at some point of the challenge. Two, guarantee college students embrace a paragraph about why the merchandise or entry is vital, through which college students have to argue the way it contributed to the evolution of the thought. Three, let college students know they should embrace a hyperlink to a useful resource to be taught extra concerning the entry or a graphic that gives extra context for the entry.

A timeline can take quite a lot of kinds – textual, interactive, visible, or some mixture of all three. Most significantly, you don’t have to 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 comfy with spreadsheets might 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 by means of storytelling, together with options for creating responsive, interactive timelines. Lessons centered on making their considering seen can make the most of quite a lot 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 by means of the event of an annotated timeline. Many educational disciplines are fraught with debates, so select a subject that elicits polarized views as evidenced within the literature or media. Assign pupil teams a selected perspective on a subject after which examine the timelines created by every group or create a grasp timeline to foster a extra nuanced and dialectical understanding of the thought.
  • 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 very interdisciplinary timeline of the biography of an concept.
  • College students can use a timeline to chart a examine 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 residence tradition as effectively. Utilizing a timeline to chart experiential studying emphasizes an inclusive and participatory method to the task.
  • Timelines can assist 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 house to problem polarized considering. On account 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 this moment, utilizing that data to create new applied sciences or progressive makes use of for present know-how.


Offering college students the house to mirror individually or in teams on the annotated timeline supplies alternatives for crucial considering.

  • Are there components of the timeline that shocked you?
  • Are there occasions shared that you simply don’t essentially see as impacting the subject?
  • What did you be taught from the timeline concerning the interdisciplinary nature of the subject?
  • Are there reoccurring themes within the timeline?
  • Are there elements of the subject excluded when examined because the biography of the thought?
  • What questions does the timeline elevate for you?
  • Are there factors on the timeline that mirror each contributions and challenges within the biography of the thought?
  • Are there different interpretations of occasions or factors on the timeline which are vital to contemplate?

In line with Mark Twain, “There is no such thing as a such factor as a brand new concept. It’s unattainable. We merely take a number of outdated concepts and put them right into a type of psychological kaleidoscope. We give them a flip they usually make new and curious mixtures. We carry on turning and making new mixtures indefinitely; however they’re the identical outdated items of coloured glass which have been in use by means of 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 enlargement of instructional terrains of chance. 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 Faculty 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, carried out workshops for school at home and worldwide organizations, and realized 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, Okay. 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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