Review by Polly Conway, Common Sense Education | Updated April 2013

Historypin

Crowdsourcing is key to making history accessible, approachable

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Character & SEL
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • Arts
  • Social Studies
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
8-12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (6 Reviews)
4

Take a look inside

5 images

Pros: Local and international history is accessible and enjoyable to uncover as well as add to.

Cons: The community needs more members to create a well-rounded view of world history.

Bottom Line: Historypin is an engaging tool to get kids interested in the history of their community and the world.

Historypin would work best in middle and high school classrooms, as older kids will be able to handle some of the darker parts of history and to reflect and gain insight on changes over time. For example, kids can look at photos of the Eiffel Tower over a period of 200 years or see one family's experience with nuclear war in Japan. Teachers can create a variety of assignments around Historypin: Have students explore their own family history and home or assign a location to explore, for example. Educators should definitely check out the Schools link, which takes you to recommended activities, downloadable worksheets, and more.

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Historypin is a map-based website that allows "people to come together, from across different generations, cultures and places, to share small glimpses of the past and to build up the huge story of human history." Users do this by "pinning" photos to a location on the map and attaching a note to describe what's in each image. Anyone can add to Historypin's map, from seasoned historians to average families, making it an epic, crowdsourced project that grows along with its community.

There are three main ways to use Historypin: Students can explore the map, pin their own content, or curate content found on the site. Kids interface with a world map that contains virtual pins from people all over the world; click on the pin and you'll be taken to a photo and a description of the site or event. It's possible to comment on each pin, asking questions or creating a discussion around the photo, making Historypin a social network as well as an archive.

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Historypin is a great idea that's executed just about perfectly. By allowing anyone to become a historian, it gathers democratized information about the past, sometimes from the very people who lived it. The part kids will like best? Sharing their own stuff. But through that, they'll begin to see how important history is, how cultures change over time, and what it means to maintain a legacy. Kids will be tickled to see old photos of their parents and grandparents. Historypin allows kids to visualize the shared history of their city, country, and world, as well as the individual experiences that shape our past.

It should be noted that site participation is a bit sluggish, which means there are some big geographic gaps that don't have much content yet. Hopefully as the project grows, more cultures will be represented.

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Overall Rating
4

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

Kids dig into their own histories to unearth information they find compelling. And they can add their own content, which should make them excited to become a part of history.

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

Explore an online map of the world featuring virtual pins dropped by an international community of users. Kids are exposed to a wide variety of cultures and experiences and can learn about themselves by adding their own content.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
5

An exhaustive FAQ section offers very clear direction and advice about how the site is best used. The intuitive layout is simple to navigate, and recommended ideas and activities are great for both classrooms and communities.


Common Sense Reviewer
Polly Conway Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

4
(See all 6 reviews) (6 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Christine F. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Van Wyck Junior High School
Wappingers Falls, NY
4
Unlimited Lesson Possibilities

I think I will best use this as a resource for students for their own writing or projects, or as a way to enrich a topic. I will probably not use it for students to add their own content, though there are relevant possibilities for them to do so in the projects section, such as Amazing Grandparents. I also liked the tour section that, in many cases has a historic photo layered over a modern day interactive street view (think Google Earth). Students can analyze what has changed and what has stayed the same. I am impressed that much of the content is provided by the dozens of museums, libraries, and archives that contribute to the site. The Collections section combines images around a particular theme, but I do wish you were to search by keyword. The site provides activity sheets and lesson ideas, and Activity Sheet 3 is a great starting point for students to become familiar with everything it has to offer, and how to go about exploring it.

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