Common Sense Review
Updated December 2013

Political Time Machine

Presidential video collection offers little more
Common Sense Rating 2
  • View videos from way back in history.
  • Learn how politics has changed over time.
  • Access campaign ads from recent presidents.
  • Discover how candidates have evolved over time.
Pros
Wide selection of videos organized by presidents' names and years.
Cons
Videos organized only by name and year, not asset type or title.
Bottom Line
Easy-to-use app makes available videos of presidential speeches and other historic events, but offers little else.
Stacy Zeiger
Common Sense Reviewer
Homeschooling parent/instructor
Common Sense Rating 2
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 2

Appeals to auditory and visual learners and allows students to experience history firsthand. Doesn't offer a way for learners to interact with videos or provide incentives for watching them.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 2

Contains a wealth of primary source videos, searchable by both president and year, but nothing more.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 1

The disabled developer's site results in the lack of a privacy policy, no help files, and no additional support.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

Teachers who have set up professional accounts may opt to share specific videos with students. This works especially well in a flipped classroom where teachers want students to access the videos at home before completing an activity in class. Teachers who have the ability to connect their devices to a larger screen may also find use for Political Time Machine in the classroom, sharing videos with students as they talk about important events in history or learn about historical figures. For example, instead of simply telling students Obama was part of the Harvard Law Review, they can show students a video in which Obama shares his thoughts on his election with the Review.

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What's It Like?

Political Time Machine lets users select a president and a year, and then provides an historical video based on those parameters. Select Nixon in 1952 and watch him give his infamous "Checkers" speech, or opt for something more current, such as Obama's reelection campaign kickoff. While many videos focus on formal speeches and interviews, others offer more candid views of the presidents, such as President George W. Bush scoring a touchdown during a pickup football game. For more current presidents, students and teachers will also find a large selection of campaign ads. Unfortunately, content is only searchable by president and year, not by type or title. So those looking for a particular speech or campaign ad may have difficulty finding it if they don't know the year. Even if they do know the year, there's no guarantee a specific video will be included.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Multiple sources provide access to presidential videos, and Political Time Machine doesn't bring anything new to the table. It does, however, make the videos immediately accessible on a variety of devices and organize them in a way that makes them easier to access. Beyond that, it's hard to imagine students being particularly interested in the videos or using the Facebook and Twitter buttons to share specific videos with friends. If students earned points, answered questions, or completed a short game after viewing each video, they might be motivated to explore more videos.

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See how teachers are using Political Time Machine