Video Time Machine

20 Jul

Living in a media drive age, it would make sense that we, as educators, have access to videos and clips that feature some of the great moments in our history: movies, music, tv, news, sports, games and ads.  To truly understand history in any context is to know what is going on in that time period. There are many ways to set the scene, YouTube is one, though researching all of that video footage takes time; the Library of Congress has some great videos to download via iTunes if you have the time; or how about the vidoes and DVD’s which are delivered with our textbooks (in my case, laser discs and reel to reel – totally up to date on technology here).  Even better, how about a device that let’s kids research or identify the videos that best describe the time period? Enger Video Time Machine, a new app available for the iPhone and iPad that carefully selects videos that best represent the time period they were made. As the site claims, “You can watch over 10,000 handpicked videos from 1860-2011.”

When I first heard of this app, I became excited, an all inclusive app that finds video from a specific year for me. When I started to use the app, I became more excited as the resources here are invaluable as an educator. For example, I am currently watching an animation on the sinking of the Lusitania made in 1918. Certainly a propaganda film, but still a great example of film and animation in the early days of theater. This could easily be used in History, English, Film Studies, Film Production, Cultural Studies, Art & Animation … wherever you may want it to go. I could see using some of this as background research for The Great Gatsby as understanding WWI is the precursor to understanding the Roaring 20’s. Even better, could kids make the connection that the sinking of the Lusitania is like that of the attack on 9/11?  Again, things that make the kids think are always good.

My biggest appreciation of the Video Time Machine app is that it gives me, the teacher, options. I can let my kids loose to see what they find and then have them share – narrowing down my videos to four or five out of 160 in a particular year. I can choose a specific video to watch, guiding my students to the topic and asking them to write about, make a connection, or find a similar film on their own. Even better, I get it all for just .99 cents. No companion pieces to the literature, so major additional research on my own time, just an app on my learning device. Additionally, I can share the videos via Twitter and Facebook. So, with all of my students on Twitter following my class feed (SoethEngClass) I can share the videos that way and see how many watch the videos prior to class; or, how many watch them again once we leave class. Learning is about interacting, and what better way for kids to take the video with them to interact with on their iPhone, iPod, other smartphone or home computer. Now I just extended the learning beyond my classroom at no extra cost to the student.

As a newer program, they are still growing, so the 10,000 videos will definitely increase. Right now, 1860 has one video, the first sound recording. However, if I look up the year I was born, 1978, there are 165 videos, big difference.  All I can say in hang in, I’m sure more will be added, and in any context, this is till a great resource.

On a side note, Video Time Machine wants to know how you are using the app, if you create a video you can submit it to them to post on their site. This app is also good for grandparents, check out this video with “Mimi,” a user submitted video where one person looks at the year she was born, 1931.

A big thanks to Bill Engelhardt who brought this app to my attention. It is well worth the .99 cent price tag.

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One Response to “Video Time Machine”

  1. Matt July 21, 2011 at 4:02 am #

    I designed and programmed this app. My partners and I are very thankful and happy that you are utilizing it in an educational setting. Rock on!

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