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Review by Leslie Crenna, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2013

Historypin

Innovative social tool encourages kids to connect the past and present

Common Sense says
Teachers say (4 Reviews)
$avg_user_learning_rating
Grades
6-12 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: This open-ended media-sharing tool has contributions from respected sources as well as individual users.

Cons: Some menu functions are confusing, and the Android version lacks much of the functionality of the website and iOS app.

Bottom Line: Historypin is a personal and unique way to bring kids closer to other time periods, cultures, and countries.

It's a pretty cool idea: Users can post and explain historic photos and associate them with a specific place so other users can experience an otherwise foreign land or culture. For classroom use, students could explore the collections to get ideas for research, world history, or world geography projects. Similarly, or perhaps even better, they can contribute their own photos and explanations. Given the diversity of American classrooms, students could even use the site to create a collaborative and classwide personal history.

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Editor's Note: Historypin has closed and is no longer available.

Historypin is an innovative way to explore and share historical photos from across the globe and through time. Kids can view the app and website without registering, but to post content, they'll need to register using a Google account and be 16 or get permission from a parent or guardian. Usernames display with pinned photos.

To search, students can define any range of dates between 1840 and today and browse collections like Protest, 1906 Earthquake and Fire, Facial Hair Through Time, and Seaside Collection. Registered users can post photos in a few easy steps and write a caption, give the background story, and give the exact date or a date range. You can also easily contribute by pulling from your device's gallery or taking a current photo, sometimes to create an "overlay" or a modern version of an historic photo taken from the same vantage point. Some locations are better represented than others, but nearly every region or country has something to look at -- even a couple of Korean War posts pinned to North Korea by an American. Some posts are in Russian, but most are in English. Many contributors are historical organizations such as the California State Library or family groups like Rowley Family History. Others are from Mirrorpix Archives. Classic iconic (copyrighted) images are not included.

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Teen users should also visit the Historypin website, which has an informative and extensive FAQ covering everything from the history of the service to how to use the site to copyright concerns. The website is also home to features that don't appear in the app -- especially the Android version. For example, users of the iOS app can access their own channels and search for others, although they'll need to go to the website to personalize theirs. The Android app makes no mention of channels at all. Still, even the bare-bones Android version offers a great experience. Users can easily zoom in or out and swipe around the world and tap on historic photos that have been associated with locations by users. Thematic photo collections set the tone and can be browsed as a slideshow. 

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
4

This site is great for history buffs, although it may not reel in kids who aren't already interested in history. Still, plenty of school projects could benefit from this interactive research supplement.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
4

Kids can delve fairly deeply into some topics, with visuals that help broaden their understanding of history. It's a very user-driven experience, as well as a social one.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
3

No tutorial is needed, but some menu functions are confusing. It would be nice to get more of the features from the website into the app, especially the Android version.


Teacher Reviews

2
(See all 4 reviews) (4 reviews)
Featured review by
Michael B. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Armada High School
Armada, MI
3
Awesome in concept, struggles in practice

I think this is a tool that can be useful, but it has to be a very specific task and plotted out until the site gets a bit more fluent and navigable. I will come back to this site, but I'm not sure how often yet, so it doesn't lend itself to daily/weekly lesson usage.

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