DH Pedagogy

TimelineJS & the British Reformations

Students in a British history course recently completed an extensive timeline of the British Reformations in context. Professor Michelle Brock structured the project as an assignment that amounted to 15% of the course grade. The timeline also serves as a resource for students writing their final essays for the course. This approach to DH emphasizes that digital projects are not simply end products but also can inform written works.

Screenshot of British Reformations in Context timeline

TimelineJS was chosen by Brock as the appropriate tool for this project due to its visual capabilities. Prior to the beginning of the term, Brock consulted with the DHAT to plan how to instruct students on using this tool to contextualize the British Reformations. An essential feature was the tag functionality of TimelineJS to indicate whether an event occured in the English Reformation, Scottish Reformation, or the Continental European Reformation. Brock describes the goal of the assignment:

“The goal of this three-tiered timeline is to give student a visual overview of the trajectory of the European, English, and Scottish Reformations, and a more tangible representation of the relationship between the three. This should also provide a deeper understanding of the English and Scottish Reformations in their European contexts, as well as an illustration of their respective local and national dimensions. Students will then use this timeline to help write their final essay.”

Students worked in three groups of four to populate the spreadsheet that powers the timeline. Students were responsible for identifying and entering key events, documents, and people for their respective Reformation (a period spanning between 1450 – 1650). Each entry had to include a brief descriptive paragraph (80 – 120 words) explaining the significance of the topic. Students were encouraged to include images where appropriate. And, if applicable, students could include links to video on YouTube.

Each member of the group was expected to contribute 7 – 10 entries. Groups were expected to work collaboratively over the course of the semester. A librarian provided initial training to the class on January 19. The students completed their work on March 30. In addition, all the students had to turn in an individual timeline report that specified which entries they wrote and the list of sources used to write those entries.

The final timeline has 73 entries about the Reformations.

Interested in using TimelineJS in your couse? See our introduction to TimelineJS.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *