The Knightlab at Northwestern University wants to help users tell better stories with the development of StoryMapJS, a free digital tool that "highlight[s] the locations of a series of events" with accompanying web resources.
This digital tool is of particular use for teachers who want to help their students better understand a narrative by having them actually create it.
Stories are told traditionally with text—but are given dimension with the addition of images, videos, tweets, Wikipedia pages, and more while being connected to an actual map.
The set-up provides teachers of all backgrounds an opportunity to introduce digital storytelling into the classroom while helping students bolster multimedia skills.
"A social studies teacher could follow military campaigns, elections, or social movements. Science teachers could track the spread of a disease or the history of a medical or technological development. Fine Arts educators might trace an artistic movement or the biography of a famous artist," suggests Michael Kuenien for Education Matters.
To get started, big names in news like The Washington Post have already contributed examples to get an idea for how the story maps work.
The Washington Post’s example provides an interactive look at the timeline of how the Islamic State has gained control over key cities in Iraq and Syria using its own reports from the past year.
According to Kuenien, educators also have the option to use the more challenging approach of StoryMapJS’s gigapixel option.
The gigapixel option, Kuenien says, "allows users to focus on one uploaded image rather than move through a narrative map. Educators might explain parts of a painting or photo, analyze a political cartoon or campaign poster."
Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor